It’s a different world from outside the classroom. I’m in a position where there’s hardly room for the ELL teacher to have an office and shared teaching space. So to add basically another teacher to the mix, there’s simply no room. My teaching space is in the hallway where we hear and see everything that happens between third grade, the counselor, SPED, the focus room, and the teachers lounge. A lot goes down in these hallways, but we are here to work.
Outside the classroom and into the hallway is a whole new space. A space we normally think of or walk about when getting from one room to another. This space is often narrow and crowded with students walking in single file lines. Student work and bustling bulletin boards line the walls and empty tables with empty chairs strewn across the hall. Walking down the hall of the third grade classrooms, you’ll find me somewhere between the teachers lounge and the SPED room. You’ll find me silently walking back and forth, up and down the stairs, every thirty minutes. I remove myself from the small chair I’ve sat in as I remind my students to push in theirs. And we walk back to their respective classes as I gather myself and my students for another small group lesson.
As an ELL Instructional Aide at a school of over 50 English learners, I only work one-on-one or in small groups. Some aides have a chance to push into classrooms to further support their students. In this environment we have found that our students benefit most when we can work with them on an individualized level and focus on their specific needs. My largest group consists of 3 students and we do work.
We work in the hallways filled with student work. We work in the hallways filled with students slowly wandering from the okay water fountain to the better water fountain at the other end of the hall. We work in the hallways filled with unhappy campers finding their way to the focus room. We work in the hallways with high pitch squeals and closing doors. We work in the hallways on a new language while hearing that language being abused by others. We work in the hallways that everyone walk. We work for a better understanding, a better knowledge, a better future for ourselves. We work in the hallways to one day understand why the child at the end of the hall is so unhappy at school. We work in the hallways to put all of our attention into a new world. We work in the hallways to divide our attention from the chaos that surrounds us and learn from that.
We learn in the hallways to thrive in this new world and to thrive in this new language. We work hard in the hallways so that we can work hard in the classroom.