I’m exhausted and ready to fall asleep … and yes it is only 7:30. I can’t even imagine all of you with 20 + kids. I've only got 12. But those 12 are as diverse as night is from day. I have 4 countries represented this year in my classroom: Burma, Burundi, Congo, and the United States.
I am really thankful for the opportunity we have at the school I teach at to do God’s work in loving the immigrant and refugee and to pursue reconciliation between many different people groups. But it’s incredibly complex. My student from Congo just arrived in the country 3 short weeks ago. And he’s not content to sit still and listen to words he doesn’t understand. We spent a great deal of time today as a class working on the words wait and be still. I’ve begun building stamina with my kiddos for Daily 5 on read to self. But what do you do to help someone “fresh off the boat” (or plane) when you’re trying to watch everyone else to make sure they’re following procedures and you don’t need to regroup to check in. I’m not even sure today if my students read the whole time as I was trying to introduce my non English speaker to a tool he can use during read to self to increase his vocabulary, which I figure is the best place to start considering he knows three or four English words in all.
I spent time today teaching my kids how to communicate using body language and short phrases in order for them also to help our new friend rather than the shoving and snatching that began happening with the lack of communication between them. I have a feeling this is going to be a lesson in patience for a few of them.
Three years ago I worked with two ELL students new to the country who did not yet speak English but at the time I taught kindergarten. The students were of a culture that was extremely soft spoken and respectful of authority so it worked out well as they would sit and listen to become accustomed to hearing the English language. It also worked out very nicely because the skills they needed to learn Kindergarten also needed to learn. This year will be a little different story. I’m so glad I teach using Daily 5 and a workshop Daily 5ish approach to math! This is going to open up much more opportunity for me to meet the needs of my students using differentiated instruction. I’ve just got to figure out how to teach the procedures and build stamina while having one who has not a clue what I’m communicating.
I’m sure I’ll have much to share with you this year as I learn how to meet the needs of a student new to the country while also meeting the needs of the rest of a diverse group. If any of you have ideas that might be helpful please leave a comment.