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This was the last one:

Do a stronger job on classroom management.  Though I very successfully taught what some might call “intervention” classes for many years,  teaching ELLs and IB classes have made me a bit lax in this area, to the detriment of learning.  It generally hasn’t been a problem in my ELL classes, but some years there are more students who have been out of school for a long time, or who have experienced substantial trauma, and those experiences impact the classroom – as they did this year.  The class could have benefited with a bit more “tough love” from me.

More than one reader has contacted me asking if I had more specific ideas of what this might look like.

I figured that now would be a good time to do some thinking about it,  before the end of school and before my mind entirely disconnects from school for the summer.

Again, I should emphasize that my Newcomer class went fine this year.  It just could have clearly gone better.

Here are the actions I’m thinking about:

1.Make a priority of calling student homes prior to school (and the typical hectic pace begins).  These positive calls home may not only produce some important student information from the family but, importantly, set up a good environment for any calls I might need to subsequently make about challenging behavior during the school year.

2. I’ve shared a lot about all the positive impact peer tutors have had in Newcomer students acquiring English.  That is definitely case.  At the same time, it’s not reasonable to expect the tutors to enforce classroom management guidelines like cellphone use and handling students who sometimes go over to another small group to talk with a friend.   That is obviously my responsibility.  The problem has been that, since I have two rooms and the small groups work in both, things happen in one when and I’m in the other.  So, if the class numbers are reasonable, which they generally are at the beginning of the year before they tend to substantially increase, I’ll keep the small groups in one room where I can keep an eye on everyone.

I also have to admit that sometimes I did some other work while students were working with peer tutors, and think I may have to forego that option – at least, for most of the time.

3. I am going to have to much sharper in transitions between activities.  The class went so much better when I made that happen.  It’s particularly important, I think, with using peer tutors.  Their presence increases the number of transitions (see WHAT HAPPENS IN A TYPICAL DAY DURING MY ELL NEWCOMERS CLASS).

4. Along with that, I previously discussed some of the delay in students beginning their warm-ups because of the time it took to get their books.  That won’t be a problem next year since I will have them for the first two periods of the day (this year I just had the Newcomers for second period) – it will be easy to have their books ready for them on their desks when they come in.

5.. I previously discussed my plan to ask students to keep their cellphones in backpacks, and how I hope to introduce that idea with multilingual lesson on the research behind the reason for that rule. I’m also going to request, but not not demand, that students not have airpods on so they can focus on English.

6. Definitely be “quicker-on-the-draw” in changing student seats (though always in consultation with them first).  The seat changes I made because of behavior all worked well, but should have happened much sooner.


As every teacher know, each class is different, and I think this is especially true in an ELL Newcomers class.  Much depends on the level of trauma students have experienced, or how much experience they have previously had in a school.  It can also be complicated by the number of new students who enter the class periodically throughout the year.

None of these six changes should negatively affect the relational culture I try to create in class.  And, depending on the class, it’s possible that there can be increased flexibility in some of them.

But, as teachers know, it will be easier to start tight and then loosen things than the other way around.

I’m adding this info to:

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