Mentoring a newbie

In the spring, a young ESL teacher asked NYC Educator for help with her out-of-control classroom. He observed her class.

Five minutes in, a group of kids from one country walked in like they owned the place. She sent them out and made them get a pass. The kids were delighted. More time to walk the halls. More time to hang with their buds. I told the teacher not to do that anymore. I told her to call the homes of every one of those kids any time they arrived late, and to begin that very day.

I also noticed that one kid was the ringleader of this little group. I told the young teacher to move this kid’s seat away from the group. There was a group of kids from another country who spoke a different language, so I told her to move the kid there, into another country for all intents and purposes. “But she doesn’t speak that language,” the young teacher objected.

One of the things you learn when you teach ESL is that you often need to separate kids who speak the same language. Why would kids from China speak English if they could just hang around with other kids from China all the time? Things like that may not occur to teachers who don’t have experience. And despite having been there for months, no one had bothered to tell this young woman anything of the sort.

The young teacher took his advice and her classes began running smoothly. Then she was “excessed.”

Last week, the teacher went for a job interview.

She was asked what she would do if faced with kids from multiple language groups, and how she would deal with keeping them focused and on task.  She had a ready answer for them — an anecdote of just how she dealt with a similar situation.

She got the job.

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  1. Excellent advice– he is absolutely right!


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