What It's Like as an Esol Teacher

This was a requested list that I LOVE! My immediate response was "SO MUCH WORK!" but I thought I would keep my list on the positive side since, despite all the work, I absolutely love my job.
  1. The United Nations
    Some people brag about how many countries they've been to.... Ok I do that too (9). But just 9. That's including a layover in Finland and a train station in Belgium. It's super unimpressive. However, I have had the absolute pleasure of working closely with students from 56 (and counting) countries over the past six years. Please see a future post where I test @list 's limits to see how many countries I can list.
  2. Charades
    This is often my first sarcastic response when people say "but you don't speak their language?! How do you teach them?!?". Honestly, even for the students I could communicate with in Spanish or my limited Russian, I usually don't. Sometimes I will make a connection to a grammatical structure in Spanish or translate a vocab word here and there, but only on an individual basis. See it wouldn't be fair to the Nepali speaker in the class. I then remember that charades IS one way I teach!
  3. Cultural Diffusion
    The best part about being an ESOL teacher is actually not teaching. It's learning, from your students. Everyday I learn something new about a different county, language or culture. It's eye-opening and I encourage sharing of this knowledge by my students, to each other, in order to instill a love of multiculturalism and so students feel empowered by the pride they have in their own cultures. If we embrace diversity, we teach acceptance, tolerance and hopefully love.
  4. A nerdy linguist's dreams
    I mean, how many ways can you say "clock"? What about "key," "North," "South," "East," "West," "book" or "window"? No I can't say all of those in 20 languages. But I make (or have the students collaboratively make) one of these for as many items as necessary.
  5. An arranged marriage with a co-teacher
    Especially in New York State where there are new regulations for English Language Learners to have required hours of ESOL instruction embedded in a content class, co-teaching is no longer a thing of the future. And they don't exactly let you choose. Fortunately I can work with most anyone, but it's like a marriage. Every day is work. Together. Like it. Or not. It's for the kids #itsforthekids
  6. Pictionary
    Another of my immediate sarcastic responses to "how do you teach them there immigrants?!" (Said in a Southern, crotchety voice, not unlike my elderly relatives). However, just like charades, if not more so, drawing a quick picture, or providing an actual visual on the SmartBoard® is the key to lowering a students' affective filter, providing them a connection, accessing prior knowledge and aiding in comprehension!
  7. Being in a classroom where students actually want to learn
    This is 'Merica! Where we breed couch potatoes and most recently we breed teens with their noses glued to their tech devices. It's so refreshing to have motivated students who recognize their need for direction, guidance and instruction, who for the most part have the utmost respect for teachers, who don't talk back (or at least don't have the vocabulary to talk back), and who genuinely want to learn!
  8. A chance (& duty) to change the world!
    Big dreams! But to quote one of my favorite world leaders: "Our cultural diversity is a stimulator of creativity. Investing in this creativity can transform societies. It is our responsibility to develop education and intercultural skills in young people to sustain the diversity of our world and to learn to live together in the diversity of our languages, cultures and religions, to bring about change." -Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
  9. A teacher, counselor, social worker- all rolled into one.
    Something I wish more people understood, especially those with the "this is 'Merica, learn English!" attitude, is that these are kids. They didn't choose to come here, their parents chose for them. Or their parents sent them through the drug wars of Mexico on the back of a coyote. Or a church organization sponsored them and they left their families behind in refugee camps. They require so much emotional support. To them, I'm so much more than "teacher".