Here are the different tasks that I regularly ask Teaching Assistants to perform in a Level 1 ESL class:
* Model all pair-work and other interactive activities with the instructor
At this level, explaining is generally not an effective way to guide student exercises. The teaching assistant regularly demonstrates with the instructor on how we would like students to interact and complete pair work and other interactive activities. Individual engagement is also modeled by both the instructor and the teaching assistant.
* Help guide students in the classroom
Depending on student needs, both the instructor and the teaching assistant guide students in the following areas:
Writing: spelling of basic vocabulary; basic spelling-sound correspondence (such as for short and long vowels); sentence formation with Capital letter, subject/verb and end punctuation; the “to be” verb; simple present tense with affirmative, negative and question sentences; Present Progressive tense (also called Present Continuous) pronouns; articles; possessives; capital v. lowercase letters; and on occasion, letter formation
* Help students individually.
* If time, direct students who are finished to write a sentence on the board.
Reading & Speaking:
* Help students to pronounce and remember the vocabulary.
Pair Work & Group Work activities:
* Work with the instructor to match students together for pair-work and group-work exercises.
* Guide student pairs in how to do pair work activities
All class interactive activities:
* Help direct students to converse with other free students during interactive activities.
* Provide additional guidance if necessary.
Reading vocabulary cards:
* Guide students in reading through the vocabulary cards, and acting out the vocabulary on each card, as needed based on the student.
* Be the second voice in the classroom
As students learn vocabulary, listening, pronunciation and basic sentence structures it helps them to regularly hear a second voice. This happens informally, one-on-one and with pairs or groups, and also more formally, in all-class activities with target vocabulary, target phrases, target sentence structures and/or target letters and target sounds.
* Administrative activities
These administrative activities are directly linked to program funding.
Registration forms: Work with the instructor to guide students in completing registration forms (especially at the end of the quarter)
Refugee documentation: Take refugee identification cards (I-94 or green cards) or passports with special visa stamps (Students from Afghanistan only), along with colored half-sheets from the office, to be copied in Building 19.
CASAS test administration: Work with the instructor or instructors to administer CASAS tests (Reading CASAS and Listening CASAS), distribute and recollect testing materials, and help students find their Listening test rooms (once a quarter for each test).
* Materials organization
Sign-in Sheet: Ensure that the sign-in sheet keeps moving around the room, and in the established pattern; writing activities or individual work is the best time. After completion, count the number of students to be sure everyone signed in.
Attendance is usually entered by the instructor. However, if students leave early, arrive late, or announce that they will be absent in the next class, mark this right away in the database.
Handouts: Check to make sure that handouts and homework are making their way around the room or down/across each row, depending on the established pattern.
Reusable materials: Help re-collect re-usable materials used in pairwork and interactive activities.
Whiteboard & Big pictures: Move big pictures over – still stuck with a magnet – in order to make room for more information on the board.
Picture pass-cards: Ensure that the picture pass-cards keep moving around the room; assist in showing students the gestures for each word and with pronunciation. Remind students to put their pencils down during passing activities to avoid blockage.
Other tasks as needed to support specific activities, address administrative requirements and student needs.
9:00 a.m.: New students come in
Returning students – They should pick up their name cards on the table. If they forgot, just remind them and point to the table.
New students – Make sure they have a sheet of the class’s color. Does the sheet have their name on it. If there is no name, they write their name on a piece of paper. Check to see if the name is in the database. If it’s not there, refresh the database, and inform the teacher.
All students sit in the front rows.
Spanish speakers – separate them, so they do not all sit on the same side
Students use lowercase letters when writing grid vocabulary on their grids.
Make sure g, y, j, q and p are down. l, h, k are up. j and i have the dots.
During or after writing, go over pronunciation with students.
Check the students’ sentences for these things:
- Start with a capital letter.
- End with a period.
- Have a subject.
- Have a verb.
- Check the verb (“To have”, “To be”, Simple Present, Present Continuous).
- Check articles: a, an, the.