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Does anyone have a "newcomer class"?

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alieliza alieliza is offline
 
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alieliza
 
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Does anyone have a "newcomer class"?
Old 12-15-2008, 04:21 PM
 
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I am an ESL teacher in an elementary school. I work with English Language Learners from around the world. Each year I work with 50-65 children, with their abilities in English ranging from having just arrived in the country and do not speak a word of English, to having been born here and are in ESL for their 6th year (this is less common, but many children get sort of "stuck" for various reasons, sometimes language related, sometimes testing/reading related).

My *favorite* kind of students are the newly arrived children.

My assistant principal is thinking of starting a "newcomer academy" for newly arrived students. Shes considering have it be 3 months to 1 year, depending on what we can make happen, in order to give them a place where they can feel comfortable, learn quickly through a good blend of ESL and content instruction all day long, and through a specialized curriculum, such as thematic units with real life experiences, such as neighborhood walks to acquaint them with the community, as well as good, hands on, meaningful activities to make learning dynamic etc. I would also love to have a strong parent component.

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to teach this class, for so many reasons. I love newcomers, I love teaching English to children who desperately need it, I love teaching in themes, I would have my own classroom, which I don't now, I could do really great things if I only had to focus on 15 children, as opposed to 50, and it would just all around be wonderful for me.

Does anyone have this kind of a class in their school?
How does it work out?
I bet it takes a lot of pressure off of the other classroom teachers.
Do you know whether the teacher likes the arrangement?

If you have a class like this please share with me!


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Newcomer Class
Old 12-17-2008, 06:18 PM
 
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Hi there,

Well I'm not sure if it's exactly what you are thinking of, but yes my 1st grade classroom is pretty much a newcomer class. I have 15 students in my class who have all lived in the country for under two years or else have only been exposed to English since entering Kindergarten last year. I have 9 different languages in my classroom, and I only speak English. I have to warn you, it is quite challenging!! I'm not sure what the expectations would be of the children in your classroom, but I am expected to keep up with the curriculum. However, I do have some flexibility in the materials I use, the length of time I have to cover something, etc. My themes are focused on literature and author studies and seasonal activities of course! Unfortunately I don't have strong parent - school connections because I'm not able to communicate with the majority of the parents, but I know there are quite a few who are extremely eager to help out their students at home, and I always make it a point to send home things for them to work on. I also encourage reading in their native language at home and try to explain to parents how important it is for their young children.

I do love my classroom but like I said it can be very challenging. Children with no english or schooling enter the classroom at various times throughout the year (sometimes as late as June!), and it's difficult to keep everything moving and give all the students the attention they need when a newcomer arrives. I also get a lot of grief from other teachers because they make a big deal out of my class size being smaller or they will claim one of their students doesn't speak English well and needs to be in my classroom. It can get quite annoying.

However, I make it a point to make sure I have a warm and welcoming classroom. Community and bonding are very important so children feel a part of the classroom right away. If you really have a passion for working with these types of students, I would definitely go for it. I totally agree with your principal and you that newcomers need a special type of classroom upon arrival, whether the classroom teacher speaks their native language or not.

Feel free to ask any more questions you may have.
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Old 12-17-2008, 06:25 PM
 
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I don't, but I'm across the hall from one. We have a large population of Iraqi refugees. At least one of our classrooms is made up of students who've been in the country less than a year. I'm not quite sure of the details, because the students are relatively isolated. I'm an aide, so I don't work with them at all (we have 2 bilingual tutors who help out in the ELL classes).

In our district it's really important that these students have a separate curriculum for a while, because many of them haven't been in school of any kind for quite a while-- some as many as five years. So we have 6th graders who've gotten maybe a 1st grade education, if they were in a good school. Plus the language and culture is SOOO different, they need a lot of help. There is no way the regular classroom teachers could accommodate these kids, especially with the number of ELL kids we've got who are mainstreamed.

I think it's great that you want to have a strong parent component. In my limited research on ELL families, it's a common theme for the parents to feel rather intimidated by teachers and schools. A lot of them also depend on their students to translate for them, so it's good to know what the family dynamic is.

Good luck!
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alieliza alieliza is offline
 
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Thank you!
Old 12-18-2008, 01:17 PM
 
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Thank you guys for your input. Im not sure if this class will actually come about, but your feedback is definitely helpful. Im hoping for it to happen!
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New Arrival Instruction
Old 12-20-2008, 09:04 AM
 
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Hello Alieliza,

The Cypress-Fairbanks ISD has a new arrival center and has specially trained teachers with small class sizes and para support. It is specifically limited to students who have entered into the US within the current school year. You can access information on this program on their website. You will have to do some navigation but you will come across it.

Class sizes in the recommended district are low depending on enrollment and zoning issues. At some point in the year you can have a few as five or six, and then it zooms to the mid and upper teens. These kids are usually in the program for one year then have to be moved into and ESL homeroom and a follow regular academic schedule.


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