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As any teacher of English Language Learner classes (and teachers of many other types of classes, too) knows,  after students have been given an assignment, it’s not unusual for many of them to subsequently have lots of questions or want individual work checked.

In my experience, there’s often a high-level of student motivation in ELL classes and, as teachers, we want to help!

At the same time, however, we can’t be everywhere at once.

And, we also have to monitor for overall student compliance at the same time.   Though many ELLs are highly motivated, not all are and, after all, they are also teens (at least in my classes) who can sometimes be easily distracted (no matter how engaging my lessons might be 🙂  )

So, how can we give “individual” feedback to all of our students and ensure that everyone is on-task at the same time?

Today, Ted Appel, the recently retired principal of our school, came to my class to try-out an observation protocol he’s developing.

All his feedback was helpful, but one comment in particular struck me.  It related to the problem I’m discussing in this post.

Ted’s comment was that one alternative way to try would be to provide less “individual” attention. Instead, as I’m going around the room, quickly look at the work a few students are doing and look for patterns of problems or examples of good work to use as models on the Doc Cam. Then, interrupt the class briefly to point out what you’re seeing and give a quick lesson on it.

Obviously, most of us do something like this at least now and then.   And I often do this kind of analysis and mini-lesson after work has been turned-in (Todd Finley has written about this kind of whole class feedback in a much more involved way in Save Time Responding to Essays: Letter to the Class).  However, it’s clear to me that I, for one, need to be more strategic about regularly doing this “in the moment.”

I can’t be everywhere at once.

What are other strategies you use to cope with the reality you can’t respond to every student every time?

I’m adding this post to The Best Resources For Learning How To Best Give Feedback To Students.