Wow, it seems that our time here in Sweden has completely flown by since returning from our sports break trip! Last week, My cooperating teacher, Hannah, asked if I would like to do the planning for the inquiry unit that week (see last post) and then began having me take over various other tasks in the classroom such as the teacher led math station, break duty, lunch duty, working with individual students, and more. For my final week at ISGR Hannah spoke with the English as a Second Language teacher, Marta, who offered me the opportunity to come each morning for 1 hour to observe the beginner EAL classes. I was extremely excited about this opportunity and was eager to spend the week learning from Marta and being able to apply the many strategies that I have learned to work with EAL students. During the middle of the week, Marta asked me to teach a beginner EAL lesson on adjectives. Although I was very excited to plan this lesson, I was slightly nervous as I have not had much experience planning and teaching EAL lessons. I knew that when planning this lesson I would have to be mindful in differentiating the material for the students. Even though all 15 of the grade 1 and 2 students in the class are classified as beginner, there are still a wide range of ability levels and exposure to English in the classroom. Although very nervous, I was up for the challenge!
Overall, I believe that the lesson went well and that the students gained a strong understanding of the material for the first time that they were being exposed to adjectives. However, as I reflected on my lesson, I also realized the challenges and areas that could have been improved to better help the students grasp the concept of adjectives and their use in English. Although I knew that concepts need to be explicitly taught and reinforced for beginner EAL students, I was still struck by my need to slow down my lesson even more and provide more guided practice before allowing the students to work independently.
I must admit that I was intimidated by the task of planning a beginner EAL lesson, however, I also believe that it was one of the greatest learning experiences that I have ever had. This experience taught me my strengths and areas of improvement when teaching EAL students, especially beginners. During my week helping in the beginner EAL classes, I also found a new passion for working with these students. Although my teaching certification will be in EAL/ESL, I always thought that it would just be a beneficial skill/certification to have as a general education teacher. However, after this week, I have found a deeper passion for working with these students, and have begun considering opportunities to be an ESL teacher at some point during my teaching career. I am incredibly thankful for this unexpected opportunity, and Marta’s willingness to take me in, challenge me, and show me the special joy of working with EAL students.