ESL Assistant Teaching Tips

I’ve decided to write a few posts in a new category: ESL Assistant Teaching Tips.

Why

This is partly in hopes of sharing what I’ve learned in my last few semesters of assistant teaching.

It’s also partly in hopes of encouraging more programs to hire assistants for ESL writing and reading classes. Not all of my community colleges do this, but I wish they would. I think it would also be helpful in settings beyond EAP, though admittedly I’ve been pretty firmly embedded in adult EAP the past while.

The Basics

The way assistant teaching works at at least one community college I work for is as follows: academic reading and writing courses with a minimum number of students have an assigned lead teacher and an assigned assistant teacher. Classes meet for about two hours, twice a week.

Second hour of class only, the assistant teacher comes in.

The intention is for the first hour to be more about instruction, review, etc., and second hour to be reading and writing practice in class with two instructors available to lead small groups, circulate, check work, conference, etc.

Assistants are not hired to do preparation at home, including lesson planning or grading. They do not necessarily reduce the lead teacher’s workload; rather, they allow more to be accomplished during class, particularly in terms of interactions with students.

 

I will be periodically posting tips and ideas about how assistant teachers can support the classroom. I hope it’s helpful!

 

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Portfolios

Since my May 29th post that included my mom’s low-tech portfolio idea, I’ve been thinking more about portfolios.

Beth Kanter keeps her portfolio on a wiki that she links to right at the top of her blog.   She told me she uses a wiki notsomuch for collaboration purposes, but because wikis are such quick and simple websites to edit.

Google Docs are another option out there.  I like that you can create a shared word processing document that bridges to paper very easily.  The formatting would not be as flexible or quite as web-friendly as a wiki though.  It also seems fun to create a presentation-style portfolio, though its usefulness is a little less clear to me.

Speaking of fun portfolios, Minnesota has a great initiative called eFolio Minnesota.  Its tagline is “Your Electronic Showcase.”  It has modules for students, educators, and careers.  I like that it’s not just a form to fill out – it seems to have been thoughtfully created and offers advice about reflection, goals, and content.

What else is out there?

EDIT: Beth suggested I check out Michelle Martin’s blog “The Bamboo Project.” It’s amazing what you don’t know till somebody tells you!  This non-traditional résumé Michelle posted about was too pertinent to not share.  I’m looking forward to catching up with Michelle’s work in the weeks to come!  Thanks Beth!