Back to School Edition
I remember a HUMONGOUS problem I had the first 2 years of teaching. Students were NOT motivated to come to class. They did NOT care, at all.
So, I developed a conferencing and goal-setting system I could use at the beginning of the school-year, the middle, and the very end of the school year. And IT WORKED!
Who do you Conference and Goal-Set With?
Any student or students, needs goal or a way to sustain interest and motivation throughout the school year.
I designed this specifically for English Language Teachers working with groups of ELL (ESL) students taking the WIDA Language Proficiency test. HOWEVER, it is super easy to change it to fit ANY content area, academic or social goal, or rubric.
What Makes it Beneficial?
- Easy-to-understand VISUAL
- COMMUNICATION TOOL between you, the student, and the parent
- EASY to use
- IMPACTFUL. Students are invested because they made these goals!
- GROWTH-MINDSET. There is no shame in starting at Level 1 or 6. Just keep leveling up like you’re in a video game!
- Students LOVE that one-on-one opportunity they get to teach you about themselves
- Student MOTIVATION continues throughout the WHOLE SCHOOL YEAR
Below, I explain exactly how powerful these goal-setting conferences were for my ELL students as I prepared them for the ELL test.
What Do You Need for Conferencing and Goal-Setting?
You need at least 3 parts:
- The Goal-Setting Sheet
- The explanations/definitions of the goals
- Two different colored pens
Hint: Check out the video below to see EXACTLY how to set this up!
What is the Process for Conferencing and Goal Setting?
|1) What will the students set goals for?||—> WIDA scores?||—> Fountas & Pinnel reading level?|
| 2) Create a visual |
|—> Make sure the visual |
can fit at the TOP of
the goal-setting sheet.
|—> Keep it visual with symbols and/or colors!|
|3) Make a student copy where they can set their goals.||—> GROWTH-MINDSET!||—> Level 5 represents what grade-level would look like at the END of the year. That way, EVERYONE can be challenged.|
|4) Use a separate copy to define the goals further.||—> or to show the scope-and-sequence of what they are learning.|
Below, you can see a video of me conferencing and goal-setting with an ELL Student at the END of the year. I DID THIS ON PURPOSE.
I figured it would be beneficial for you to see exactly HOW MOTIVATED the student still was at the end of the year, and so you can see how all the pieces fit together.
Keep in mind ….when you’re actually setting goals at the beginning of the year, you will be discussing with the student what a realistic, but high-achieving goal for them would be. Not actual results or test scores like I did in the video.
I would love to know what you think!
Do you use conferencing or goal-setting in your classroom? Why or why not?
I remember walking into my first school, my first classroom, a week before the first day of school. AND I WAS TERRIFIED!!!
I started thinking about how my student teaching didn’t start until October, so I had NO CLUE how to start off a school year. What supplies did I need? Was I even going to get any from the school or students? What about my classroom? Does it have furniture? I just wished I could find a new teacher survival list!
WHERE DO I EVEN BEGIN?
Luckily, I shared the room with another English-as-a-Second-Language teacher, and she showed me the ropes. She even went school shopping with me to help me get everything I would need to start the school year off right! ^_^
I KNOW I would NOT have survived without her help. So, as a way to help you through the wildest, hardest, most rewarding, crazy year of your life, here’s are all of the supplies I had (or wish I had!) that saved me throughout the school year!
(ALL THE COLORS. Why flair pens? Because they are the BEST. They don’t bleed through anything, they don’t accidentally break and stain your clothes, kids can’t draw on themselves with them, and they KEEP WORKING).
(Does brand matter? EVERY TEACHER WILL TELL YOU YES.)
Coloring Pencils (Skin-Color Edition!)
What better way to differentiate than to give students the choice to draw themselves?
(Believe me. There is nothing more annoying then hearing that electric pencil sharpener breaking during your lesson and hearing a kid say, “Teacher!!!! It’s broken!!!!!!!
Besides: They take more ownership for their own pencils when they have to sharpen them. Trust me on this.)
Washi Masking Tape to wrap around the pencils
(So that students know that it is YOUR pencil, and they remember to GIVE IT BACK). I wrapped mine in gold and drew Pikachu on it. It worked great!
This is a more personal one. Bullet Journals work for some ( the teacher next-door had made a GORGEOUS one), others use google calendar, etc. If you are a visual person like me, somebody who NEEDS to write things down, or you don’t know where to start, try this one out!
YOUR FIRST AID KIT…
Hot Pad for Shoulders
When your shoulders tense so hard it gives you a headache, this hot pad you can pop in the microwave is your SAVIOUR.
The beans. The mug. The coffee-maker. The electric tea kettle. All of it. Then teach students how to make coffee in case you run out.
Bandaids – In multiple skin colors
YOUR SURVIVAL BAG…
ID Badge Holders with Lanyard
(Seems like a weird one, I know. But they are soooo useful for keeping track of student names, for field trips, for hall/bathroom passes, and for implementing the flexible grouping system I created for you).
Hate chalk dust? Hate it when your directions get smudged or erased? Now you never have to worry about it!
Firbon A4 Paper Cutter with a security safeguard and ruler
(Again, another weird one. You’ll thank me when you have ALL THOSE PAPERS to cut and the paper cutter available for staff is dull, broken, or always being used).
It’s time to treat yo’ self. Your welcome.
Other ESSENTIAL items: Coffee Maker (I personally use the french press), Microwave (to heat up your cold coffee), Hand Sanitizer (so you can drink your coffee without getting sick), Tissues, Packaging Tape (To keep things on desks and tables), BIG POSTER sticky notes, grid paper for students, chocolate, more coffee, mini-fridge, and pictures of cute happy things.
FINALLY, YOUR SHELTER…
Not only does it help you NOT HAVE TO LAMINATE resources, you never have to worry about things falling out or ripping out again! You can even write and erase on it with a whiteboard marker!
I used to keep all my graphic organizers here so that students can just grab it and go as they needed! Best part: They could do it independently!
The goal here is make supplies easily accessible for students. AKA, they can get it themselves without asking you.
All the Montessori teachers I worked with had binders STUFFED with their lessons plans and resources. I even saw one teacher use it to help students keep track of what lesson they are on, and what they need to do next!
Cheaper than sticky tac, and just as effective. Plus, it won’t take paint off the wall!
And there you have it! All the essentials to make it through that first year!
What do you think about this First-Year Teacher Survival List?
Would you add anything to it? Let us know below!
Miki Leckie is an English Language Teacher, dedicated to helping other teachers survive the classroom.
As an ELL Teacher who co-taught with Montessori classrooms in multi-age classrooms, she has developed quick, easy-to-implement strategies to help ALL students, no matter where they’re at, to connect and learn in the lesson.
After mentoring many student teachers, teaching in the hallway during construction, teaching summer school for newcomer refugees in a one-room, Kindergarten-6th Grade classroom, caseloads of 10-140 students, coaching other teachers in AVID strategies, leading professional developments and speaking at teacher conferences, AAAAND implementing everything from Responsive Classroom to Backwards Design lesson-planning, she believed that the best way to teach like a BOSS is to COMBINE everything in a PRACTICAL, EASY-TO-IMPLEMENT way.
On a more personal note, Miki is the proud fur-momma to two babies: Momo and Snowshoe!
She also enjoys grinding coffee beans for her French press, pretending to be a wine and food connoisseur, traveling and helping other people travel through her travel agency, and following pop-Pilates workout videos and Zumba dance sessions.
As a first-year teacher, I remember asking ALL the other ELL teachers what to do for the first 2 weeks. Those first weeks were absolutely terrifying to me! My student-teaching didn’t start until AFTER the first month, and whenever I volunteered or was a teacher’s assistant, I did it INSIDE the classroom, not as a co-teacher or a pull-out teacher.
What I was told, over and over again, was this.
Do not start your pull-out groups.Not first-year teachers
I remember thinking, WHAAAAAT?!!!!!! What the h*** am I supposed to do then?! I understood why I couldn’t start pull-out groups. The students NEEDED to stay in the classroom to be part of the community, especially at the building-up stage!
But I Can’t Just Waste the First 2 Weeks of School!
So, that first year, I just helped out in the classrooms I would co-teach in. I observed, I supported, I passed out papers and learned names and classroom cultures and routines. I couldn’t help feeling like there was something MORE.
In my second year, I had this same feeling. And yet, I got the same answers. Further in the year, when students had to take the WIDA test, I remember getting SO ANGRY that the students were just now super interested in what the WIDA test was, had no idea how it would effect them (even though I literally told them EVERY SINGLE DAY), and kept asking me what their score was like I had it memorized. (No kid, I don’t have all 120 of your scores memorized!!!!! Where’s the sheet I gave you with the scores on it?!!!!)
It was then the solution hit me.
These 4th and 5th graders WANTED to understand WIDA and how it effected them. They WANTED to set goals, and recognized the importance of knowing their scores to know where they STARTED. Telling them won’t work. I needed to SHOW them. With visuals.
And viola! I created a VISUAL REPRESENTATION. Take a peek!
Thanks for joining me on this insane educator journey we’re on!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
I’m hoping we’ll get to spend some time together, since we’re into differentiating for our students and all, so let me introduce myself!
I’m a coffee-loving, wine-drinking, English-as-a-Second Language teacher living in Minneapolis, MN! I’ve been in the educational field as a volunteer, a tutor, a teacher assistant, a co-teacher, a small group teacher, a student teacher, the list goes on and on.
My specialties are in teaching English, cultural pedagogy, and differentiation. One thing you’ll find about me: I am a STRONG BELIEVER that ELL strategies are not just for language-learners. They are awesome teaching strategies for EVERY KIND OF LEARNER.
ELL Strategies are not just for language-learners. They are awesome teaching strategies for EVERY kind of learner.-Miki Leckie
(Oh yes. I just quoted myself. Because it’s just that important!)
SOOOOO. My goal is simple. I have so many tools and systems that I want to get into other teachers’ hands. There are SO MANY WAYS you can set up your classroom culture, schedule, and the way you teach to make differentiation for all those 35, or 40, or god-forbid 50+ different humans in your room. Without going insane!
I’m super excited to co-teach with you this year! (Or yearS. Whatever works for you!)
P.S. I truly want you to find the strategies I share on this site useful! If there’s something you want to learn how to do, or you’re just not sure how to differentiate for it yet, send me a note below!