This Fall, I’m teaching Level One Multilevel for 12 hours per week (Monday through Thursday mornings, three hours each day). This means that most of my students are “Level 1.”
Every level, Level 1 being no exception, includes a range of student abilities. Some students at this level cannot easily understand the question, “Where are you from?” while some can have a conversation with me about their morning exercise routine. Some are great at reading while others have trouble reading in their first language, let alone English. Some students have been immersed in American culture for five or more years while others arrived a week ago.
It’s also typical for a given student to have higher skills in some modalities than in others (for example, one student I had back in St. Paul couldn’t understand a word I said but absolutely schooled a Level 2 reading test).
The “multilevel” distinction is an interesting one. Basically, my class includes all of the Level 1 students, as well as the Level 2 and 3 students who aren’t able to make it to class at least 9 hours per week.
Mine is also the class where new students are sent to fill out forms and await their placement tests. That’s why I had 17 students on Wednesday – many of them were just temporarily in my class until we could ascertain their level and schedule and place them in a class for real.
What I Think Of This
This set-up does add some chaos to my classroom, but I think it limits chaos on the whole. First, it lets us keep our 12-hour classes for folks who can come for about 12 hours without just sending the others away. Second, it makes sense to send new registrants by default to the lowest class because it’s better to risk them being bored than intimidated.
We were all hoping I’d have a volunteer aid to help with new students and with computer-based learning for the students from Level 2 and Level 3. However, I don’t seem to have one. One of the office staff does come by once or twice a week to test new students and help with paperwork, and that’s huge.
A few more thoughts on this:
- This class, with solo teaching multilevel and being a demi-coordinator too, is really going to take my planning to the next level.
- A paid classroom aid would make more sense to me than a volunteer. Such a position would be a small expense compared to its impact on quality.
- I could probably try to recruit a volunteer classroom aid from the college.