I have been taking part in a programme called Lilac – This is a intervention programme aimed at EAL children. Each week I need to read a series of academic journal article and reflect on them. Below is my rambling!
Reflection – Week 1
This article made me think about the students in my class that I know nothing about. Those who have lots of diversity in their background and experiences in life that I have never given them time to talk about. I think of children who are always there is class and listen to me and always seem to be interested.
Do I really know their background? Do I know where they come from really? Loss? Trauma? Devastation?
These are the students who surprise me as they remember some of the minor elements of my teaching. They take time to get to know me; do I take the time to get to know them? This is an interesting one, as I do not totally know if I do. I take time to talk to them but do I know them? Do I need to know them this well to an effective educator?
I can tell you how good they are at maths and now they perform in English. I can tell you want they are like within a group and task and how they communicate with other but I would struggle to tell you about them. This is crying shame. This has made me think about getting to know them more. Also talking to other children who know them, as children are always ready to share interesting differences that are amongst them. This article made me think about how I might change my communication style and how the way I talk sometimes might not be the best way to encapsulate these leaners. How I might need to change tact sometimes.
After reading the first article: Do I know them? Do I know my class really? Of course I do, we all know the class that we teach. We all know what they are good at; we all know where their strengths are and the areas that they need to work on. But do we really k now them?
Have I made time to get to know them and so have I made time to reflect of what I am teaching them? Is the curriculum suitable for them and have I made adequate provision? Looking at this it would be good to see how these students were like in their home country. Have they changed to fit in with the UK education system? I know I change my time etc. dependent on the place I find myself in. At home I am one person and in school I have another personality. I am sure there are lots of people who can identify with this. It would be interesting to see if the children are like this, do they change much when they are in my class as they know this is what I expect etc.
Do they have one personality at home and in their home country but at school they are someone or something else as they find this work and helps? Do I make time to reflect and learn about their background and di I make sure what I am doing/saying/creating is not against what they feel/believe. This also makes me think that is there must be times when the system I teach is not best for the children within my class but best for me. Consider: Are some of the lessons suitable for these leaners? Do I teach this because this is what I want to do and not always what is in the best interest of the EAL students.
All the new EAL learners in my class are given time to master the language. Time to get to grips with the language. We as a school give them time to get to grips with the curriculum to try and get into the routine etc. We try and mould them in to something that we want them to be.
Is this right?
Do we ever give them time to be themselves? Do we ever think about what they might be able to offer to the classroom? I know from personal experience that when they arrive in year 5 we are always so worried that they need to catch up as if they do not they may not be able to reach their full potential. This sounds like we are doing what might be in the children’s best interest; Are we? Are we doing this because we know that we need to justify the data that we have at the end of the year with out SLT and leaders. This article make me think that everyone of the children within my class have something to offer and that we all need to make sure we give these children time to share their voice/ experience/ culture/ etc.
Reflection – Week 2
Scaffolding is something that we do all the time. We are a talk 4 writing school and so this is an area that we do a lot of. We scaffold the work in maths, English and topic. We do this, as this is how children seem to learn best; breaking it down into sections and showing how’s the best way of getting to the answer/finished product. This sounds simple but I know that this is not the case. I know that sometimes this is harder then it seems. I also know that sometimes this just does not work.
As someone who is married to someone who speaks another language I know that sometime the scaffolds are very confusing. It depends on culture and how we read the areas that we work within. Most of the time the scaffolds work because we are used to working in a certain way. What if the mechanism were different. What if the educational protocols were not the same and the methods were different. This would confuse us and would definitely make us think again. I know this is the case with me and learning a different language, many of the scaffolds are different and I do not know them so it makes learning the language harder.
As already mentioned above we use the talk 4 writing scheme that has the elements that are mentioned within this article. We give the children time to explore the text, to construct it with guidance through a shared writing experience and then we apply these skills within a writing exercise independently. This sounds like as a school and as a teacher I would be able to cover all of the areas that are identified within this text but I also feel that I am missing the point here.
I think I am good at going through the mechanism of this exercise but I feel the EAL children are not having their needs addressed fully. I would say that I am not giving them time to talk and express themselves in their home language. I feel that they are expected to use English so much that this is what they strive to do and as a result they produce less. This is not right. I am holding them back.
I focus on the use of language within all areas of the curriculum. We have words of the week in maths, spelling that are displayed around the classroom and now in topic we have word banks. We have words lists in science and we always insist that they is used and utilised. It is only after reading this article and performing the mode continuum that it made be think that words have different values. Some words are easy to understand and some are not. Some can be local or cultural and some and just be confusing. This will make me reflect more on the language I use and the type of language I ask the children to learn. Is it necessary and will it be without ambiguity.
By this I will make an effort to make sure that I do not give words that I know can be confusing and I will try my best to make sure that all words are explained fully and that others give feedback. I will ask if the words are suitable and ask the children to give feedback.