Well, Teachers and Counselors, it's that time of year again! Time to dust off those shelves and unpack those boxes of new (and old) stuff!! And if you're a counselor outside the school system, August is as good a time of year as any to clean out those office cobwebs and touch up with your latest and greatest new counseling materials! Ditto for you enviable teachers who are still on break or lucky enough to be just wrapping up your work year now.
So, in honor of this bittersweet back to school time, we will post some pics and tips for setting up your teaching classroom or counseling office. But first--EXCITING NEWS-- we are also sending out our summer newsletter this week, which will have all of the fab resources and freebies we've been saving up for you these last few months, plus a promotional giveaway for a free book! If you haven't already put yourself on our newsletter mailing list, do so right now by filling out the eform just to the right of this post!
And without further ado, the ESL CLASSROOM...
We've posted some former ESL classroom photos below so you can see the results of of all our years of ESL trial and error;). In each photo, we share explanations of ESL teaching tips and materials that work really well, many with links to free or low-cost downloadables and products. Happy viewing! As always, we've included a lot of links as helpful resources on these topics- the blue ones will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use and the red ones will take you to a freebie that you can download after you leave a comment below (once you leave a comment, the download automatically gets sent to you within a day).
Here's a few of of our favorite read alouds that we also like to use for Culture Sessions groups since these titles really nail the switching cultures challenge that all our ESL students face on a daily basis...
Students sit at group tables during lessons, since so much of speaking and understanding a language is cooperative and thus involves group work. You can see the two PDF versions of the ESL for Beginners Lessons Guides that we use as well as the book versions, bingo cards, and vocabulary cards. Of course there's also the treasure box, which is full of prizes for students to win since we play games in every lesson.
Wider shot of the group table and entrance to classroom.
Here's how a group table might look as students enter so we can jump right into the alphabet and number card practice.
And now for the COUNSELING OFFICE...In each photo, we share explanations of counseling tips and materials that work really well, many with links to free or low-cost downloadables and products. Happy viewing! As always, we've included a lot of links as helpful resources on these topics- the blue ones will take you right to an article, video, or product you can use and the red ones will take you to a freebie that you can download after you leave a comment below (once you leave a comment, the download automatically gets sent to you within a day).
Here's one of our two bulletin boards- notice the envelope with the green "If You Need to See the Counselor" sign above it...this is one of the many places where students can pick up a request form to meet with us. We don't do walk-ins except in "3 Hurts" emergencies.
Here's our counseling office lobby. The red chair/desk is where the student office aides sit and work, checking students in and keeping order in the waiting room. When we lost our secretary budget years back, we started a serious training program for counseling office aides and it is AMAZING what our aides can do (no jobs that would violate confidentiality, of course). One day soon we will publish our counseling office aide training manual- follow us on our Bilingual Learner Facebook or Twitter pages to see when it is available!
The Counseling Office Rules (red posterette) are crucial! Office Aides have students read them as they are waiting to see us.
Here's my office...on my door is our TX state school counseling code detailing what school counselors do- it's great for explaining what our job actually is!
This is the bookshelf in my office, right next to the door. The blue cubbies on top of the book shelf may not look like much, but it is an organizational life-saver!! Counselors have their hands in so many different aspects of a school and these cubbies put each type of documentation in its spot. It was 50 bucks for cheap cardboard, but so worth it! You can also see the shelves in the office are divided into sections for groups, for guidance lessons, for student books, and for professional books/binders. They may seem empty now, but they fill up fast as the year progresses!
The group counseling room.
And now for some tips on how to tackle the first week back...
If you are like us and the site of an un-organized office or classroom is overwhelming and disorienting, here is a list below of how we tackle the first week in order to have things in order and in process by the time everyone returns:
- Unpack all materials and set up your office/classroom. (3-6 hours...don't spend more than a day on this, even if you are breaking in a new office/classroom because it will all change as the year progresses anyway. Just put everything you have in a place so that you feel somewhat comfortable in your space.)
- Change out your summer break phone/email message and return any phone messages you acquired while hanging out at the beach. (30 min-1 hour)
- Check work email and take care of those over-the-summer emails and any others you just couldn't deal with during the last few days of the 2013-14 school year. (2 hours)
- Put together your TO DO list and write the tasks in your planner or Outlook Calendar or Smartphone or whatever you use. This way, you will know when to do them and actually remember to do each task. (1-2 hours if you are continuing from the TO DO list you started for this new school year at the end of 2013-14. If you didn't start your 2014-15 TO DO list last year and you have to make it from scratch- block out a half day.)
- Meet with your colleague (if you have one) to coordinate your activities/plan your lessons for the next two weeks and to set a weekly or monthly planning time to continue meeting regularly through the school year. After, get your materials together. (2-3 hours counselors, 2-3 days teachers)
- COUNSELORS ONLY: Set up your waiting room/suite/lobby if you have one. (20 minutes- IF you have an awesome student helper who you can call up to come to the school and do this for you. In our counseling office, we have amazing office aides each year that we painstakingly train- email us if you need training mats. Because our counseling office secretary positions were cut a few years ago, our student aides are like mini-office managers and know our suite layout better than we do. So, we bought our student aide lunch and just let her go- 2 hours later, she was all done and our waiting room sparkled.)
- Set up and make/email copies of your weekly schedule and yearly calendar/syllabus- post copies wherever you work, on your office door, and email/give to your administrators; its also good at this time to set up with admin a weekly or monthly meeting time that runs throughout the school year so everyone knows: what ASCA/NABE/TESOL recommends that you do, what amazing things you are actually doing, and what admin needs for you to do. (1 hour- IF you laid the foundation for this at the end of the 2013-14 school year with your admin. If not and you need guidance- email us as it's too much to go into here.)
- Start on that TO DO list. Happy DO-ing!
So, that's it for our August post. Hope to see you back here the first Saturday in September! Maybe we'll actually get to write that individual counseling post we keep talking about;) And there's LOTS brewing in the ESL world- stay tuned for some big revelations and news next month. Please leave a comment about your back to school experience, office, classroom, or tips. Let's all share the wealth! Remember, we'll trade ya a comment for a freebie resource- comment below and we'll send you the code for the resources in RED above so you can download it for free from our Google Docs account. In the meantime, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page.