Yesterday morning I met my summer students. They are beginning English students, all from Mexico and all new to me!
I have been teaching adult education for nine or ten years now and this summer our program is experiencing some changes. Due to LOTS of budget cuts and the need to spend all money by June 30, our eight week classes have been condensed to six weeks. I now teach an hour longer each class period - four hours, plus a Friday! I am teaching a beginner course in the morning and then for the first time as an adult educator, job sharing my evening class. I have to appreciate my ESL manager who had lots of last minute decisions to make and came up with the idea of job sharing to give us the maximum hours allowed. Plus, she placed me with a teacher that teaches very similar to me and so far, we have agreed on everything! How perfect is that?
When I first started teaching ESL (English as a Second Language), I always taught beginners and felt that was my strength and where I needed to be. However, I always told my manager that I was fine wherever she needed me. Eventually I was moved up to intermediate levels where I have been for several years and absolutely LOVE! So, when I received my summer assignment and realized I was back with beginners again, I felt a little disappointed. (Not unappreciative though. Several weeks back we didn't even think we were having a summer program, so I am happy to be teaching!)
The disappointment vanished in about five seconds of being back with a beginner group. I remembered all that I love about them. I love how they come into the room full of anxiety and excitement. I love that in this level I will have several students who speak English quite well but can't read or write and then others that can't speak, read, or write in English. It is all new to them. I like the challenge of the varied abilities.
About five minutes after class started a 19 year old male student had a peer tell me that this level was too difficult and he needed to be in a lower level. (We do offer literacy levels). I told him to give the class twenty minutes and he would be fine. Twenty minutes later when I checked back with him, he gave me a thumbs up that he was fine. I love the feeling of knowing I have made my students comfortable. I like that they know I am excited by their questions and encourage them to ask me anything. I think the next six weeks are going to be a lot of fun!