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!