Time to Reflect!

April 12th, 2017

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4 Responses

  1. Ruth Seidenspinner says:

    My thoughts on the CCR Standards are mixed because I favor a student-goal oriented approach to teaching and the students in my Beginner-level classes tend to have a wide variety of goals. Some of the students are taking English classes for the express purpose of getting a job or improving their job prospects. For these ELLs, teaching to the CCR Standards makes perfect sense. However, other students enroll in the classes because they need English to get through day-to-day life, for survival skills, and/or to integrate themselves into their new US communities. This group tends to consist of retirees, homemakers with no desire/need for employment, people studying English for the sole purpose of learning a new language, and a few who need English for their jobs in their home countries (I recently had a student who’s an English teacher in Vietnam!). For these people, a focus on college- and career-readiness doesn’t seem exactly in-line with their life objectives, at least at this point in their lives. In the end, some students may later decide to enroll in college or get a job, and a more robust vocabulary and familiarity with job-related concepts can be helpful to anyone regardless of their goals… so the Standards are certainly not irrelevant in any case.

    • Philip Bonner says:

      Ruth,

      You make an excellent point. This focus on the workplace standards in all classes presumes that that is what all learners want or need. So, does one size fit all? I rather doubt it. As I just pointed out in my reply to Jody, this is when knowing your students well comes into play. We can shift our focus as need, and hopefully touch on every learner’s goal for the course. As you know, ESL teachers have the ability to be all things to all people. 🙂

      Phil

  2. Jody George says:

    In response to Phil’s questions:

    1. I think that teaching to the more robust College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) is helpful for my students. It encourages them to aim high. As a new teacher, the standards were a useful guide as I developed lesson plans. With this said, my fall class was comprised of low- to high-beginning students. For several of them, grasping basic grammar and language skills was a challenge, so at times, the academically oriented standards seemed like a stretch. But on balance, I still think it was worth it to try and help them move beyond their current levels and understanding of English.

    2. In my fall class, I tried to incorporate workshop and career contextualization, with mixed success. I did this by including resume writing and workplace vocabulary over the course of several lesson plans. Although the students enjoyed the conversations, few were actively looking for jobs. Only two fully developed their resumes, which later made me wonder whether I should have spent less time on this topic — not have eliminated it, but have improved my presentation, so it was more concise and to the point.

    3. As a new teacher, I find the need to simultaneously teach workplace readiness skills, civic engagement, critical thinking, and other topics overwhelming! It’s hard to fit them all into two two- and one-half hour sessions per week, without feeling like I’m doing a little bit of everything, but not in adequate depth. I’m hoping this feeling subsides as I become more skilled at both teaching and developing lesson plans. To me, all the topics seem important. It’s just that there’s not enough time to address them adequately.

    • Philip Bonner says:

      Jody,

      I appreciate your points. The new standards are more rigorous and do require more work on the teacher’s part. But I also agree that rigorous standards help our students in the long run. Thanks for the effort it took to incorporate these ideas into your teaching.

      Phil

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