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September Snapshot: The English Language Development Chameleon

So far this year I have jumped in enthusiastically to an improv game called “Bunny, Bunny” in an 8th grade class. This game encourages students to work as a team as they pass the words, “Bunny, Bunny” around, while standing in a circle.  The class kept erupting into laughter as another component of the game is to keep the rhythm going by chanting, “Goocha, goocha,” continuously. Then, I was off to a fairly new teacher’s classroom, who was sternly reviewing the rules of the class with a Powerpoint. I shed my “Bunny, Bunny” demeanor, stood up straight and donned a serious face to show support for my new colleague. Next, I went to a seasoned 4th and 5th grade teacher’s room and sat down with a table of students who were cutting out emojis that represented their identities. I relaxed into the seat and talked to the students informally about the choices they were making.

As an English language development teacher (previously known as ESL teacher), I don’t really run the show during the first weeks of school. It is a time for me to observe and notice as much as I can about the students and teachers with whom I will be working. As I move from classroom to classroom I adapt to the environment that the general education teacher has established for the start of the school year.  Until my caseload is finalized and I have some time to co-plan with teachers, this is my role and I believe it helps all the students to view me as a positive and natural part of their classroom community. That way when I begin to focus on the multilingual students to develop their language skills, they are not stigmatized and their classmates feel comfortable coming to me for guidance as well.