There are numerous support systems available to students at my placement school.
I am in an ESL cluster classroom, which means there are significantly more ESL students in my class than in the other rooms. My CT and I are expected to work closely with the ESL specialist to tailor lessons and instruction to meet these students’ needs. The specialist usually pulls 5-6 students out at a time to work with them on reading and vocabulary skills. She also takes students individually to work with them on a more personal level when necessary. It is helpful when she assists my CT with completing benchmarks and other standardized assessments. One of our ESL students is very new to English. The ESL specialist provided a children’s Spanish-English dictionary and word/vocabulary flash cards for him to use in the class. She also advised us to put the students’ name at the top of his desk in big letters so that he would be constantly reminded of how to spell and write it correctly. I personally don’t think the communication between the ESL specialist and my CT is adequate. Although both are extremely busy, I think it would be more beneficial for the students if these teachers collaborated more to discuss how to best suit their needs. Now I do realize that I am only observing the class one day a week, so maybe they conference when I am not there to see it. Hmmm…I’ll to ask my CT about this tomorrow!
The reading specialist is also very involved in our classroom. She works with Kindergarten through second grade, and there is another specialist who works with the third through fifth graders. We have quite a few students in our classroom who are performing on a very low reading level, and her job is to bring them up to grade level as soon as possible. She also pulls children out during the day to work either individually or in small groups with them on their decoding, fluency, accuracy, and comprehension. The reading specialist helps to complete benchmark and other standardized assessments like the ESL specialist does. She regularly comes into the classroom to speak with my CT about how students are progressing in their literacy, although sometimes it breaks into instructional time! The reading specialist and my CT also have conferences with parents about individual students’ strengths and difficulties in reading.
I have also spoken with our school counselor about her role in the school. She and I are actually from the same hometown! The school counselor provides emotional support and guidance to all of the students in the school. She goes to all the classrooms at various times during the month to speak about character traits and the importance of being a good citizen in the school and in the community. She is also available for students who need to talk to someone about their feelings, emotions, or things that are going on at home. If students have behavioral problems, they often conference with the school counselor to try to figure things out. She is very approachable and students feel comfortable talking to her. I find it very interesting to talk with her because I think I would like to be a school counselor myself one day!