I feel silly with this as a title, but at the same time, I am proud of what I have accomplished this year with it being me,myself and I in my classroom. My students have had me all hear, with little to no outside help. And they have done damn good!
When I first started teaching, teachers who had 10 English Learners were given a 3 hour aide. I guess the district/union figured we needed the help to teach kids who didn't speak English. If you only had 9 EL's, you were out of luck and maybe got support for an hour a day. I had a 3 hour aide for one year of my 14 year teaching career. Most teachers had a bilingual aide, but not me. My aide was a white girl like me who knew less Spanish than I did. And my kids kicked ass that year! They may not have been above grade level, but they could hold their own. It was a fabulous year, and the only year I had help.
3 years after that, the contract wording changed, and the 3 hour aides were removed from the classroom. We still had help, but it was 30 minutes, maybe an hour if you were lucky. When I taught developmental first grade, I had an aide for 30 minutes to help with the really low kids. It was ok, but not great. Notice I said help with the kids, not do copying or anything. We've never had that. A couple years after that, we had an aide for 30 minutes and had to hope for the best.
Fast forward to 2012. My school does school wide intervention. The kids go to their focus group for 30 minutes. Some go to ELD, some go to speech and the other kids either stay with their homeroom teacher or, if the grade level desires, the kids are leveled Into a high/medium/low group for reading help. The ELD classes have an aide during that time, and then the other teachers are supposed to have one aide for the 30 minutes. Well, I took the high kids for focus. I started with 9 kids in my group. I didn't need an aide. It would have been a waste and the teacher who took the lows ( I normally take the lows, but there were some major behaviors and I didn't want to deal with them, so their homeroom teacher took the low group) said she needed the extra aide since she had so many lows. So, I gave up the aide for the good of the kids. That leaves. Me with no one all day. BTW, the teacher who needed the aide won Teacher of the Year over me. Seriously? You can't do it with the help you have?
During the day, every other teacher at the school has an aide. Not me. My kids who go to ELD have aide help, but a lot of them don't need it. The kids who go to the low or medium focus group get aide help, too, but it's on skills for the focus group, not necessarily on things they truly need. Some are getting extra help, but it's not really on what they need to reach The next level, no matter what it is.
When I look at where my kids came from and where they are now, I am amazed. They have all come so far. Over 2/3 of my kids are at or above grade level, which is awesome. And, the kids who are a bit below grade level are all EL's and they aren't that far below. They are making great growth while still learning how to deal with 2 languages. Awesome! And they are doing it with just me! I feel pretty good knowing I have taught them this year by myself and they have learned. While I know many people have no help and their kids do fabulous, I always liked having someone else to double team my needier kids. I don't have that this year, so I have been a little nervous.
One teacher gets an extra hour of aide time, since she has a combo class.the aide does some of the teaching, but whatever. Another teacher has 2 one on one aides, but uses the aides to work with other kids, even though she swears they don't. Come on, we aren't dumb. I see them working with other kids! Plus, she gets 2 aides during focus, so she has 5 adults in there with 9 kids. And then she complains about the kids being low still. My BTF has an aide during focus, plus the aide stays with her for the next half hour (she's the only one in the school with that...WTH?) and does who knows what. Sometimes she works with the low kids, sometimes she helps with writing, etc. The other teacher has an extra adult or 3 hours a week, not an aide, but still it's help. And others have parents who help all the time. My BTF has 5 parent volunteers...some good, some bad...but still help. Me, I am a parent repellent and can't get help even when I beg. And I'm used to it and know how to do it on my own.
Knowing I had no extra help, I made a goal for myself to get my kids as far as they could go. And they have done well. I would love to have help and get some help for my strugglers, but I had to make it work for me. I set my own little goal that my kids would be higher overall without the help, to prove to myself that it's possible. Deep down I know it is, but I have used the extra help as a crutch in the past. I'm proud of what my kids have done, and proud of myself for not caving in to the "I need help for me kids to learn" thing. My kids learn no matter what and I think I have become a better teacher by having it all fall on me.
Next year I'll get even tougher. We will have more kids, less supplies and less help. I hope I can do the same thing next year as I have this year. I have made some good changes in my teaching, but some things have fallen to the wayside, unintentionally, we. Are getting an updated reading program, so my goal is to really embrace it and try to be happy with the new and not fall into the rut.
I will take the momentum from this year into the summer and work on making the beginning of the year a great start! Until then, I'm gonna have a little fun with my kids, enjoy the rest of the year and then enjoy my summer break!