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Field Notes 5- 2/27/13. Parental involvement and student-student relationships

mschoyer's picture


Elementary School 2


I decided to use McEntee’s Guided Invidual Reflection Protocol (pg. 52) again this week, as I want to expand on one particular story.


  1. Collect Stories
  • Still standardized testing- exhausting for both teachers and students. Also reduces the time students can spend in regular ELL class.
  • Ray and family’s return from Korea after 2-3 weeks
  • Hiring a paraprofessional to assist Nina with her increasing number of students
  1. What Happened?
  • Throughout the past few weeks of testing, there have been two students (siblings) who have been in Korea for an extended period of time (about 2-3). They returned this morning, and the 3rd grade girl came to school, but the Kindergarten boy, Ray, stayed home because of jet lag, being tired, etc. The girl got sick in school so her mom, Mrs. S., came to pick her up a little bit after noon (right around when I arrived). Ray came to school with his mom to pick up his sister. Nina and I talked to Mrs. S., and Nina told her about the test. Mrs. S. did not know about the standardized test and that her children had missed it. She was concerned that her children would not have time to complete it. Nina tried to convince her it was fine and they could get it done in the next few days, but Mrs. S. decided to sign Ray in, and since her daughter had fallen asleep at the nurse, leave her there until Ray finished the test (it took about an hour and a half to complete all the sections- Nina typically splits it up between days).
  1. Why Did It Happen?
  • Two things about this story were especially notable to me. First of all, I was concerned with two children missing so much school, especially when they are still learning English and needed to be in school for a test. But how can you limit this? The family was visiting Korea, their home country. I assume the children were still within the acceptable range of missed school days. The days were just all at once and during a difficult time. Another thing I noticed was Mrs. S.’s commitment to her children’s education. Despite missing so many days, she seemed generally alarmed when she heard of the testing her children missed. I later learned that the father is an oncologist at a local Children’s Hospital. The family is likely very academically minded. This was evident in the Mrs. S.’s reaction and involvement, and also the way that Ray was able to stay focused and alert despite being jet lagged and exhausted- he’s five years old and it was technically midnight for him (it was midnight in Korea).
  1. What Might it Mean?
  • While Ray did well on his testing and was able to complete it on time despite his trip, this might be different for other students (even his sister who is yet to take it). Also, how would the situation have been different with a child whose parents weren’t involved and focused on academics?
  1. What are the Implications for Practice?
  • Should schools put more stringent requirements on absences (example: you can miss 14 days total but no more than 5 in a row- except emergencies, etc.)? Also, I think an increased level of communication between parents and the teacher/school may have helped this situation. Perhaps if the parents were aware of the time constraints of testing, they might have scheduled the trip for a different time.



Elementary School 1


  • Before going to my placement I picked up ccalderon as she was coming with me for her cross-visitation
  • We also picked up, Tara, Joey’s mom, and brought her to ES1 with us
    • The language barrier was extremely challenging and significant.
    • I tried to ask her simple questions/talk about things that did not require a lot of response, but it was nearly impossible.
  • Today was the first day the students were back in their regular classes
    • All told of them told me that they were very happy to be done testing.
  • Nina, Tara, ccalderon, and I went to pick up the first class of 2ndgraders
    • The walk from the 2ndgrade pod to our classroom took a very long time- Nina would stop and point out everything to Tara and give her the English word.
      • I appreciate and understand that Nina wants to help Tara but I also felt that it starts to take away from the students’ class time, especially since that particular group of students is at a much higher proficiency than Tara is. They didn’t benefit from the walk/familiarizing activity.
      • Nina is passionate about her job and wants to help people- even if that person is Tara, a parent. I think she put herself in a slightly difficult situation- how can she meet so many different needs, especially when one “student” isn’t even enrolled in the school?
  • Back in the classroom Nina continued to focus a lot on Tara- once again, it held me back from starting my lesson with the students.
    • She was trying to communicate with Tara on things that she needed to tell her son- lunch money, library books, etc. She also asked me for help in trying to communicate, but then the class was stalled.
      • I am huge advocate of heavy parental involvement and teacher/parent communication and Nina is trying to foster that in a difficult situation. It’s a difficult balance. How much effort is too much?
  • I was finally able to begin my class- I reviewed long and short vowels with the students
    • They had been taught this before testing began but Nina wanted an easy, review lesson for them to get back into ELL class
    • I used a poster with examples of long and short vowels and then I asked the students for help coming up with words with certain vowel sounds. They copied the lists down in their notebooks.
    • I didn’t finish the entire lesson so Nina will probably finish tomorrow.
  • 2nd class= 1st graders.
  • Of the five first graders, four are in the same regular class and they were working on non-fiction writing (facts about themselves) when we went to get them.
    • We continued their assignment in ELL and the fifth student began to work on it as well.
    • I assisted the students with coming up with facts and also with spelling, grammar, etc.
    • Nina originally also wanted to do vowel sounds with this class, but often has to alter her lessons based on what the classroom teachers are doing.
      • I think this is beneficial so the students don’t fall behind their peers, but it sometimes limits Nina’s creativity in her own classroom.
      • It also can limit Nina from really working on language-specific activities, which many of the students still need.
  • Ccalderon helped Tina with basic English while I worked on this lesson.
  • 3rd class- 3rd through 5thgraders.
    • This is Joey’s class (Tina’s son).
    • Another student, Timmy, is also in this class. He is in third grade like Joey and is also a recent Chinese immigrant.
      • Timmy assisted with translating and was very excited to help. I think this was good for him since he usually has a difficult time staying focused and engaged. By helping, he stayed on task.
      • There is another Chinese student in the class but she didn’t want to help. She told Nina, “I don’t want to speak Chinese.” Nina was okay with this.
  • Additionally, we had a new student, Frida, who was born in Chile but recently lived in Canada.
    • She seems to have strong English proficiency- I don’t know that she’ll stay in ELL very long.
  • I read a story to all the students (about 10) called Someday. In the story a little girl talks about the things she wants to do “someday,” what she is doing “today,” what she will do “tonight,” etc.
  • After hearing the story, I gave them a writing assignment- each student wrote a story using those time words.
    • Timmy once again helped Joey in a significant way, but so much that he wasn’t completing his own work and only wanted to help Joey.
    • I have mixed feelings on this. As a recent immigrant (the beginning of this school year) and also a student with focus issues, Timmy has come a long way. He was also helping without being asked and was really enjoying it. I was trying to redirect him to his own work every so often, but it was difficult.
    • How is this relationship benefitting Timmy? Can he still learn by helping another student?
  • After the writing assignment and right before class ended, we played Simon Says for about five minutes.
    • This was a good way for Tara and Joey to learn body parts, and also a fun activity for the other students.
    • Nina let Frida, the new student, be Simon for a little while. While she seemed nervous in the beginning of the class, I think this was a way for her to relax and feel more comfortable. It looked like she was having a good time.


Central Questions for this week

  • How important is parental involvement? (Seen at both ES1 and ES2)
    • How hard should a teacher try to get parents involved?
  • How can students help each other in the classroom?
    • Should students be expected to help?
    • Can a teacher ever tell a student that they are helping too much?