Our 21st century classrooms are vastly different from yesterday's learning environment. Not only is cooperative learning, group projects, and student presentations the new normal, but the expectation for students to utilize and incorporate technology effectively in their daily school lives increases every year. Consider, then, a student with limited English proficiency who suddenly arrives on a campus where he/she finds it difficult to understand and to be understood, combined with an expectation to interact with others and use electronic devices and technology which he/she may have never seen or learned to use, and these demands can be overwhelming.
My students are becoming more comfortable speaking in front of the class, producing assignments in a digital format, like Google Docs, Google Slides, Pixlr, and utilizing Google Classroom daily. I'm very pleased with their hard work and their progress in the classroom, but I suspect they are exhausted at the end of each day due to the extra concentration required of the second language learner. I'm following them to some of their classes, and I'm available to work one-on-one with each of them throughout the day, as they become more and more proficient with English.
The ESL classroom is a "home away from home", a quiet and comfortable place where students can return to work on assignments and projects as needed. I try to adjust the lighting with floor lamps, adding rugs and bean bags for flexible seating, and I often provide instrumental music for studying in an effort to make our classroom stress-free. It's their space, their place, and I hope to make it a comfort zone where students "recharge" from time to time as they develop their English skills, increase their confidence, and adapt to life in a high performing American school in a highly competitive and nationally recognized school district.
I had the privilege of attending a performance by one of my favorite artists this week. Trace Bundy is a gifted and wonderfully creative acoustic guitar player who utilizes technology and his talent to produce a beautiful sound which can often be heard in my classroom. Whether I'm teaching English, Gifted & Talented, Speech Communications, Computer Technology, ESL, or an elective class, frequently there is music in my classroom. I've learned over the years, and research supports, that music improves concentration and creativity in the classroom. The use of instrumental music often encourages thought and reduces distractions for others. In addition, the right kind of music creates an atmosphere that clearly can be effective for reducing stress and promoting learning.
Coffee shops today are filled with students and business men and women who bring their books and computers, staying for hours, to work in an environment where comfort and instrumental music abound. It's all about the atmosphere, creating that comfort zone that nurtures concentration, and it's reflective of the age and the 21st-century era in which we live today. -- And this music of Trace Bundy is not only lovely, creative, and thoughtful, but typical for creating that atmosphere. I was pleased that he even played "Patanga" just for me at this performance! So, I'm including this "snippet" from "Patanga" and I hope readers enjoy it! Enjoy your weekend and the week ahead, too! ~ And please press the "Appreciate" button if you liked this blog post. Thank you!
Ms. McClennahan meeting Trace Bundy!