Teachers~ I need your advice, please.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

We had the most amazing time at the beach last weekend with friends. We kayaked, played scrabble, beach baseball, collected shells and shark teeth, ate, danced and laughed. Thank you Lisa and Charlie for including our family (there were 5 families staying in the beach house). Look at the photos above~Kate actually fell asleep in the ocean jumping waves with Dave.

Thank you for all of the GREAT feedback on the surgery. I am so grateful for all of the words of wisdom. I have a BAD stomach virus right now but hopefully will recover enough to take Kate to the ENT tomorrow morning:) I will let you know what happens.

I need more advice from you teachers (and Moms too) out there. Harry was placed in the ESL (English as a Second Language) class at his school this year. He adores his teacher but he is one of only two children from the US in his entire class. While I think in many ways this could be a fabulously enriching experience for him; I am also concerned that it could impede his progress academically. I imagine things go a little slower in the ESL classes due to language and comprehension issues. I do not want him to be bored. Harry is a straight A student and in the gifted program and I am not quite sure how he ended up in this class. Any words of wisdom, teachers? How are these things decided? Do you think he'll be challenged enough? I love the cultural diversity. I just want to be sure he is stimulated academically. And I don't want to react if it is no big deal. Thank you in advance if you have any special teacher/school experience with this. I know that a lot of teachers read my blog:) And I LOVE teachers!


  1. Cool photos -- looks like so much fuN!

    Hope you're feeling better soon!

    Is Harry in the class as a peer role model? I'm not a teacher, but that is about the only reason I could think of that they would put Harry in an ESL class.

    Good luck at the ENT's tomorrow!


  2. I am a former HS English teacher, and our rules here in Indiana may be extremely different than yours. Our ESL classes were just for students whose first language was not English. If I were you, I might just email or chat with the teacher, just to know what the class structure,goals, etc. are. If your son is doing that well academically, than I might try to put him in a class that could challenge him at a faster pace. :)
    All the best!

  3. Get him out of that class!!! My aunt teaches ESL and TRUST ME, you do not want him there. He WILL suffer for it. Maybe the school wants him to be a peer, which sounds like an honor but his growth will suffer at the expense of the other children's. Please don't think that I am not for helping others (Pinkie will be a peer in her Pre-K class) but this is not a mutually beneficial situation and you are his mother and of course you want him to learn and grow in school--the main reason he is there!

  4. The ESL kids where I used to teach were pulled out for part of the day for ESL. There wasn't a classsroom of all ESL. If i were you, I would talk to the teacher. The last thing you want is for him to be bored. Maybe she has a good way of challenging him within her classroom. If not, it might be best to move him.
    Good luck!

  5. When I taught school, children were only pulled out for ESL, if English wasn't their 1st language. This doesn't really make sense to me, I would definitely call the teacher and find out why he's in there. Best to get the info. firsthand.

  6. I have never heard of English speaking children being placed in an ESL class. I taught 1st grade in SC and our ESL class was strictly for children whose native language was not English. I would definitely ask about this and have them explain to you why English speaking children are placed in the ESL class. I would love to know how this works and how they plan to challenge Harry. Please share with us what you find out.

  7. I am a K-5 ESL teacher in KY. All of my studnets have a first language other than English. All parents must complete a home language survey upon enrolling their child. If the child's first learned language is something other than English or a language other than English is predominatley spoken in the home, the child is screened for ESL using an assessment called WIDA-ACCESS Placement Test (the test used differs from state to state - however the screening procedures should be the same nationally). He should not be in ESL classes because his first language is English. I would go meet with a teacher or an administrator. Hope this is helpful.

  8. I don't understand why Harry is in the class since he speaks English as his first language! That sounds weird to me and I'd definitely talk to someone at the school about that and find out why he was placed in that class.

    I don't teach ESL (I teach special ed.), but I would imagine it goes slower due to the language barrier, and I can't imagine your son being challenged in that class!

  9. i'm not a teacher, but red flags do go up, especially since you've mentioned several times that he is such a great student. this is not the time in his education where you want him to suffer/get bored or get behind. i'd pull him from the class and ask the teacher why he was put there. perhaps there was a mistake??

  10. As others suggested, I would speak with his teacher and find out why he is in an ESL class.

    Robert and I have actually been considering removing Bruce from his speech therapy class because he is bored from the lack of stimulation with this class and his new teacher. The other children in the class barely speak English and 95% of the time his speech teacher is interacting with the other students and Bruce is sitting by himself playing with toys. His English has blossomed over the summer and we are concerned about any setbacks he may experience academically.

    Take care.


  11. I am a teacher in NY. The best thing that you could do is talk to the teacher. I teach inclusion which is special education students mixed with regular education students. A lot of parents have questions when their regular education student is placed in the class so I answer a lot of questions in the beginning of the year. Good luck!

  12. I agree with the above comments, I'd definately go speak with the teacher/admin. In my district the student in ELL (english language learners) are students who not speak English and the goal for them is to move to English speaking classes once they have a foundation built. I can guarantee the class moves slower than the regular classes and Harry would need to be challenged and not just as a "peer helper" but also academically. There is only so much one teacher can teach in a day and it sounds like (from the name of the class) the focus is on the students who do not speak English. Let us know what happens because I'm very curious as to what their intention is with putting him in the class in the first place.

  13. Hey Kim, I know that when I was teaching elementary children 8 years ago, ESL was for the children who spoke another language before English. I would definitely speak to his teacher and administrator about your concerns. Let us know what happens.
    And I love your beach photos! It looks like a great time for everyone :)

  14. I am at work and just went and talked to our ELL (English Language Learner) 3rd grade teacher and she said that doesn't sound right to have him in there, particularly if he isn't a struggling student. While he might be a peer student, I would worry that he might not be challenged.
    My .02 cents, call or visit the school and ask them to explain their program and why they chose Harry to be in that classroom.
    Good luck!

  15. I am not a teacher or parent but I can tell you what my parents did when I was once placed in the lower class. GET HIM OUT. They will go slower and if Harry is not in need of extra attention, he needs the stimulation of a faster paced class. They likely put him in the class simply because of nimbers- needing more stundents there to even it out. But that is just not fair if your child does not require ESL services. Good luck!!

  16. I am a second teacher in Connecticut. My ESL students are pulled daily for instruction. You need to speak with the administration. I have been teaching for 17 years and feel that he won't be challenged in that classroom. They are probably using him as a peer model but that should not be his responsibility. He needs to be challenged and he won't be if left in there. Hope this helps!

  17. I'm a teacher and as many of the other teachers (and non teachers) had mentioned...i would definitely contact someone at the school. Something just doesn't sound right. The majority of the children in my school are pulled out for ESL and only go because English is not their first language. I have never heard of them placing a child in a full day ESL class if English is their first language. While it may be wonderful to expose him to other cultures, you don't want this to affect his academic achievement. If nothing was discussed with you prior to this, I would talk to someone as soon as possible. Good luck!:)

  18. Kim, I'm not a teacher, but having dealt w/the school system w/four kids, I thought I would give my "take" on the situation. It may have been a oversight on the schools part. I like many commentors, can't understand WHY Harry was placed in ESL, I agree, I thought this was for non-english speaking students. That's like placing a child in a speech class, that doesn't have any "speech" issues! My daugther (NO JOKE) was placed in boy's PE, I think it was an oversight, because her name is TAYLOR and it was just an assumption "she was a boy'! No one looked for the "tell-tale" word...FEMALE!

    The last thing you want to do is "stymie" his potential. You are his only advocate, SPEAK FOR HIM!!

  19. ESL? Interesting. I taught elementary school for 6 years and have never heard of a child being placed in an ESL class unless English was their second language. Perhaps there has been a mistake? I would definitely talk with his teacher.

    BTW, our girls wore matching outfits on their first day of preschool! Such a darling dress. I posted pictures of Mia today.

  20. I'm agree with others who commented. I have taught elementary(K, 1,3,4) and also Spec Ed High school in Ca. and Tx. All of the ESL kids were speaking a language other than English at home. They all also had to have assess. tests done before being enrolled in the class.
    I think it may be a mistake and I would check with his teacher and principal asap.
    I don't think he will be challenged enough in an ESL class.
    Good Luck. I'm sure you will make the best decision for him. You always do.:)

  21. The city I live in has a very large Asian population, with many ESL children. A few years ago this was a hot topic in the education system. The solution was for ESL children to be placed in a class together (when the numbers allow) or pulled out of class for extra help. While most people here love living in a very multi-cultural city most parents believe that an English speaking child is at a disadvantage if he is in a class of predominately ESL children.
    You should definately speak to the teacher and principal and find out the reasons behind the decision.


  22. I can't speak as a teacher, but I can speak as a Mom who has requested her children be moved. If it were me, I'd have him moved immediately!
    English is not his second language and I can't think of anything positive of him being in that class. Someone above mentioned a role model type gig, but I'm sorry, but I would not toy with my kids education in order to for them to be a role model. Spanish is an elective course that my straight A, advanced challenged child is taking this year for a HS credit. Hope it works out, whatever you decide though.

  23. I am the ESL Content Specialist in my school district and I can tell you that unless you speak another language at home, there is no reason for your son to be in the ESL class. I have no idea why that would be the case... Definitely speak up... not only does your son need to be in the regular ed class... the ESL teacher should be focusing on the students who need English support, not a native speaker.

    I would definitely find out why he was placed there -- and being a role model for the other students isn't enough for him to be pulled out of the regular ed class.

    If I worked in your district, I'd call for you! :) Good luck! Keep us posted!

  24. Hi Kim!
    I'm a mommy now (with an M.Ed.), but I taught in a school that served many second-language learners!
    If it were one of my boys I would go in and speak to the building administrator and ask that he be placed in a regular classroom. Second language learners learn at a different pace (thus the reason they're pulled from regular classrooms for second language instruction in most states.) I would also worry about the social ramifications of being placed in a classroom where the vast majority of students speak a different first language. Diversity in a classroom is VERY important and very valuable, however the ratio in the classroom is pretty concerning to me. Hope that helps...

  25. Wow - blogs are amazing! I am so glad you got so many wonderful responses from so many with teaching experience. I'll be thinking about you as you advocate for Harry!

  26. OMG! I am all for cultural diversity and embracing other cultures, but am in shock over what you wrote...I teach third grade and have had many, many ESL learners...who spoke creole, French, Italian, Indian, Spanish, etc...and were placed in ESL due to the fact that English was not the primary language spoken in the home...you all are speaking English, so I do not get the point..ESL classes elongate the learning process & professionally, I think Harry (with what you told everyone) would be bored to tears & he would miss classroom time...Could they place him in the GIED (gifted)classes for the period he would be pulled for ESL? I would definitely talk to administration...I told our school's ESL teacher & she was absolutely stunned...good luck!

  27. I second just about everybody's response. I just completed my high school teaching certification classes (math albeit); however, ESL should only befor students who's second language is English. This is definitely NOT Harry. You need to talk to the school immediately, because the class will go slower. I am surprised his teacher has not contacted you already!

  28. Like others have posted, I taught at the high school level both ESL, inclusion classrooms and regular education, and I have not had experience where a child whose first language is English would be placed in an exclusive ESL setting. Something sounds fishy there... so -like others suggested- I would talk with the teacher and administration to have him removed.

    If it is an inclusion classroom, then you have a school where ability levels are not "tracked" and you include all levels in one classroom. This means that all the kids will vary in ability levels (some advanced, some beginning, some ESL) and I don't think it will hurt his education. The teacher should be instructed in inclusion and be planning lessons accordingly. I'd find out though... you don't want him in an exclusive ESL setting.

    Good luck!!

  29. All this while you are sick -- that's no good at all! I hope you start feeling better soon.

    It sounds to me like your son is in the 3rd grade ESL collab class -- where they have clustered all the ELLs (English Language Learners) together. We do this in my district as well and in general, the teachers are very good about making sure that the non-ELLs are challenged and continue learning at a level that is appropriate for them. We put the ELLs in a classroom of higher students so that it is slightly less stressful for the classroom teacher -- she pushes the high kids and works with the low kids. The thinking behind it is that if a teacher has only low kids, she can't move them up very quickly. This way, she'll be able to challenge your son (and other students who are higher) while working with the ELLs.

    I think you could ask what percentage of students are ELLs (English Language Learners). And I think you can ask how she is going to meet the needs of the higher students. Because although they might be doing great (which your son definitely is), that does not mean that he shouldn't be challenged. Is this the actual ESL teacher? Or is there another person who comes in to work with or pulls out the ELLs? Are there assistants to help the lower kids so that the teacher can work with the higher kids? These are all things that we plan for when we cluster our students together -- to make sure that all the students' needs are me.

    I'll be honest, we always look for the very best teachers to take the ELLs -- I do believe the vice principal when she said that she is the most requested teacher -- that's how it is in our district 99% of the time. And if your son is happy, then that's a huge plus too....

    If you have any other questions -- or need more to ask the administration/teacher -- let me know!

    Keep me posted! :)

  30. Kim, sometimes they do a mixed class with some ESL and some English peers in order to help the ESL students gain language quicker. It is a good model sometimes but the ESL kids need to academically sound and if not then they will slow the class down. All classes have a variety of students with some high and some low and teachers have adjust their teaching to the multi levels, so his teacher may have many levels and have a high level that Harry would obviously be in and if that is the case then he is fine, but my suspicion is that it is probably not like that. If it is not the program I described then he was probably misplaced. Is it the same school he went to last year? If he is new, then maybe it was just an accident-- who knows but I would probably talk to the principal and see what they think. If they know he is gifted and they are good with him being in that class then there may be no need to move him but if it was an accident then they probably will agree to move him right away.

    I think you know I am a school psych and have worked in the lower income mostly Spanish speaking schools for years and if it were my kid and he was placed in a class similar to that, I would probably move him. I too love diversity and we live in southern California so you know we have a ton of diversity, but diversity is different than an ESL placement. I think I would request him to be moved-- just my opinion. Good luck!


  31. I think you concerns are warranted. My experience with ESL is that is does go at a slower pace. I think I would meet with the principal and express your concerns.

  32. I am an elementary school teacher and used to work in HISD. If he was in a class that included ESL students, but not many, it would be ok, but to be one of two students that are not ESL is wrong. I spent several hours in grad school observing an ESL classroom and it was extremely behind the other classes in the same grade level. If he is meant to be in a GT class he will get bored due to the pace. I would check into why he was placed there!

  33. To my concern , ESL CLASS is for foreign students only. You should contact the teacher to know what is going on and why Harry is in this class.
    I am sure Harry will do great anyways .

  34. Kim,

    Wow. I am glad you have some teacher-support here! My first instinct was definitely "no way!" I can't wait to hear the explanation of WHY Harry would be in the ESL class to begin with! ELP, I would understand :)

    My brother lives in Las Vegas and his English speaking son had to have a translator at school because there were only (2) of them that spoke English!

    Love the pictures of your happy family at the beach. Yes, you are right - I think Kate looks younger - because she reminds me of her pictures a year or 2 ago - very beautiful!! Especially fast asleep :)

  35. And I hope you get to feeling better soon!!

  36. I teach in a public school district which is very well ranked in the state. I have never, ever heard of a student (and I am in elementary school) being put into an ESL class if they speak English. Quite honestly, I never heard of an ESL class, rather there is pull out (student leaves for some time) or push in (ESL teachers attends regular education class for some time) for ESL. I would definitely, definitely ask about why he was placed there. You have a way with words, I would just say that you are just curious about the program and how he was selected. It has to be a mistake. Even if they are using him as a mentor, I would need to know what is he gaining academically from this experience? What's in it for him, in other words. There are definitely ways of asking this stuff without being confrontational.
    Good luck! Please keep us posted!

  37. At my elementary school in Texas we do not have ESL classes. The students are pulled out for ESL abotu 30 minutes a day. We try not to put all of the ESL kids in the same class. We have dual language classes, which are something else entirely. I guess I don't understand why there would be a class with mainly ESL students. I would definitely email his teacher and find out what's going on. He does not need ESL and I would request he be moved if he is one of the few in the class.

  38. Kim,
    Just from reading this I would have Harry removed.
    This is NOT for him at all!
    As an aide over the years, the government now would like everyone to learn a second language and that is FINE!
    But I think living in the United States we speak English, and English should be the major not the minority, and there is no way he could possibly be challanged in this area!

    Truthfully this ia a new program and I think personally he was just randomly picked!
    He deserves better than this!
    English should be first, and the the second language should be a culture he choose or wishes to speak himself one day!

    Thank you for loving teachers! we need IT! more than ever!
    I still say let English be first and another language be the secondary!

  39. I second the 5 Bickies comment, what an amazing outpouring of info and advice you have received. I'm impressed that you have been so open minded about the whole thing and considered the cultural enrichment aspect. I agree that it sounds like a mistake, or the administration needed to balance class sizes ?? or the peer theory. Definitely think you should get a clear answer from administration.

  40. Get him out. What in the world are they thinking?? Never hesitate, or apologize when it comes to advocating for your child. I learned early on that the squeaky wheel gets the oil. So squeak! He does NOT need to be in there!

  41. Hello ~

    I don't often comment on your blog but do pop in from time to time. I teach in an area of Connecticut that has a diverse population. We have several ESL teachers in our district that do pull out and work one on one or in small groups. They do not have a classroom of their own as this is not to be their focus. I'd be very interested in knowing why they have your son (or any others) in this class. Reality is that if a child doesn’t speak English, additional time needs to be spent with that child. It’s very hard to teach a whole class when trying to focus on a specific area of need (a very low area) and not fall short. Teachers are only human and there is only so much time in a day. As a teacher and parent, I'd be very concerned. Many questions should be asked and a close eye should be kept on this situation. Sadly, education is becoming so very political and administrators are doing what they can to stay on the challenging edge. Quite often, this is not in the best interest of the student, classroom or teacher but that of the district or administrator.

    Best of luck ~

  42. I love the picture of Kate asleep in Daddy's arms. That is so precious.

  43. The nice thing for Harry is that she must be great at teaching to each child's individual ability and she will do the same with Harry. If she is the great teacher that people say she is, this could end up being an incredibly rich year for Harry. He is smart and will do well, no matter what. I also doubt with all that diversity he will be bored for a minute. :)

    I think...
    All the really matters for children, especially bright children, is that they are happy and like school.

    Every year will be different... I say give her a second chance, and maybe a third...


Thank you for your kindness.