Sunday, May 4, 2014

How often should the morning and afternoon classes switch?



The truth is, classroom teachers never have enough time to teach everything. Especially the 50/50 model Immersion teachers. 50/50 doesn’t mean using the target language in the Immersion classroom. It means students spend half of the day in English and the other half in the target language class.  To teach and to review in half of the regular teaching time is hard. All the Immersion teachers will agree on this.

To make the matter worse, the children often have a harder time focusing and learning in the afternoon (including adults). As teachers, we also feel tired in the afternoon, which is not fair to the students. In the fifth year of teaching, my partner teacher and I finally made a change that hopefully can reduce some struggles.

A previous partner teacher, who now has retired, and I used to switch the classes every month. We still could see the struggle but were too overwhelmed to come up with a solution. This year’s new partner teacher and I decided to switch every two weeks.  Then eventually we switched every week.

We both like the change very much and feel the change has helped most of the students.  Teachers have asked if it was too much trouble for the kids; the answer is no. The students basically remember it better than the teachers do. They know where to go in the morning. A few children forgot, but the others will remind them where to go.

The benefits of switching weekly are many. Due to the busy schedule and extra curricula classes such as library, computer, PE, music or art through out the week, students normally will miss some target language and English instruction time.  By switching every week, the students can miss the instruction equally in the afternoon or in the morning instead of the same students missing it all the time.

Sometimes there will be volunteers or aides who come in to assist.  Often their schedule is limited and they can only be there at certain times.  If the classes switch only once a month or even longer, one of the classes will miss this extra help for as long as it takes to switch.

The afternoon is harder for students to learn and for teachers to teach. Too exhausted students trapped in the same time for a month or longer, it is not fair. Both English learning and target language learning suffer in the afternoon. By switching classes weekly, the students can get instructions equally.

I have learned that some Immersion schools never switch morning and afternoon classes. Some switch once a year and some switch every quarter. However, every teacher who talks about this all has the same complaint: “afternoon class is so hard to teach.” Then they will add that schools won’t allow them to switch classes often enough.

I believe if everyone looks at the benefit to the students, and the help it provides teachers,  classes will be switched more often.

Marty Chen

7 comments:

  1. Last year at our school they started switching every single day. At first it seemed like it would be too confusing but it has ended up being great for the teachers and the kids. It saves time at the end of the day of not moving the kids tote trays back to their starting classroom. The class they end with is the class they start with the next day. Sometimes the kids forget where they ended the day before, especially on Monday, but the teachers just ask them where they left their tote tray, and the kids also remind each other.

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  2. Last year at our school they started switching every single day. At first it seemed like it would be too confusing but it has ended up being great for the teachers and the kids. It saves time at the end of the day of not moving the kids tote trays back to their starting classroom. The class they end with is the class they start with the next day. Sometimes the kids forget where they ended the day before, especially on Monday, but the teachers just ask them where they left their tote tray, and the kids also remind each other.

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    Replies
    1. This is a dated post. Indeed, we have also started switching everyday. We absolutely loved it. My partner and I both felt it was easy and great for the kids.

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    2. This is a dated post. Indeed, we have also started switching everyday. We absolutely loved it. My partner and I both felt it was easy and great for the kids.

      Delete
  3. Changing daily and weekly sounds great for the students, but at our school we have specialty teachers such as ART, MUsic, and PE. I think it would be hard on the specialty teachers.

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  4. Changing daily and weekly sounds great for the students, but at our school we have specialty teachers such as ART, MUsic, and PE. I think it would be hard on the specialty teachers.

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    Replies
    1. Hello there, we were lucky to have super supportive faculty members. Not only do we have specialty classes, we also have pull out for supportive services. During specialty classes, our immersion students and English classes are mixed together. Then one class mixed with half of Immersion and half of English kids go to library, the other class go to PE then they swap in 30 minutes. We told the library and PE teachers who they have. No problems at all. When it's time for speech, reading, or math support. The teachers just stood by the door and we know who need to go so we just sent the kids with them. The reading specialist only pull kids from my partner's class and she looks at the color sign on the door to learn which class is in the English and which kids to pull.

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