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Abigail Mattson

TEL 410
November 13, 2017
Interview Transcription: Ginger Skelton

I chose to interview Ginger Skelton for our TEL 410 project. Ms. Skelton is an English
as a Second Language teacher in the Fayette County Schools near where I live. I have known
her for several years, and have a lot of respect for how much she cares about her students. I had
the opportunity to observe Mrs. Skeltons classroom on November 13, 2017, and then to
interview her about her job. Here are the questions I asked, and her responses:

1. How long have you been an ESL teacher?

Mrs. Skelton: I got my Masters Degree in Bilingual and Bicultural Education 11 years ago, the
same year my oldest son was born. I worked as a Bilingual teacher for several years in
Colorado, and have also worked as a general classroom teacher in a couple different grades.
This is my first year as a pull-out ESL teacher.

2. What is the ESL curriculum in the Fayette County School District like?

Mrs. Skelton: There is no curriculum for ESL in our school district. This means that I have to
choose all of the resources for my students. They do get to spend some time working on an
online literacy program called Lexia Core 5, but there is no set, specific curriculum that I must
use. My students are at very different levels of learning how to read and write English and their
native language, so it would be hard to follow a set curriculum.

3. How many students do you work with every day?

Mrs. Skelton: I pull out students from almost every grade in the elementary school every day,
which is usually between five and ten students per grade. I also push in to a 4th-grade class every
day. I work with an average of 30 40 students every day.

4. What kinds of languages do the students you work with speak?

Mrs. Skelton: Most of the students speak Spanish as their native and home language. I also have
a student who speaks an Indian language, a student from Pakistan, and two Haitian-Creole
speakers.

5. What kinds of activities do you use with your students?

Mrs. Skelton: With the kindergarteners, I do a lot of phonics and sound or letter recognition
activities. With the third graders, I try to incorporate reading as much as possible we go
through short chapter books together. My fifth graders are really struggling in social studies
right now, so I use short games that are related to their social studies material to help them in
their other classes.
6. How does your school measure your students progress in English?

Mrs. Skelton: My students participate in a test called the AXIS test for English Language
Learners once a year in January. They also take the other tests that students at their grade level
complete for the state and for national education standards. If they improve on their other tests,
that shows that they are improving their English skills. Students who do very well on the AXIS
test may actually test out of ESL services.

7. What is the hardest part about your job?

Mrs. Skelton: I wish I could spend more time with my students. Some of them need more help,
and I am not able to give them the support they need. I have ten kindergarteners at one time, and
they need a lot of help that I cant give to all of them at once. I see that my fifth-grade students
are struggling in their other subjects, but theres only so much I can do.

8. If you could change one thing about your job or about the ESL curriculum, what would
you change?

Mrs. Skelton: I would push in to a different class for 4th-grade. Right now I go to math, because
that was the only time it worked for me to help those students. But math is not a great time to
support them with literacy, and they need more instruction.

9. How much parent involvement is there with your students?

Mrs. Skelton: My students parents are not very involved, and this is one of my personal goals
right now. Im working on ways to involve the parents in their childrens education and to
support them in knowing how they can help their students. I had the chance to translate a parent-
teacher conference for some of my parents who speak Spanish, and this helped them connect
with their childs general classroom teacher. Those particular parents wanted to help their child,
but felt like they couldnt because they didnt speak English.

10. How do students become a part of ESL services?

Mrs. Skelton: All parents fill out a short language survey at the beginning of the school year. If
the parents indicate that any language other than English is spoken in their home, their children
are screened during the first two weeks of school. Kindergarteners are interviewed, and 1st-
through 5th-graders take a test. Depending on their school, they are identified for ESL services.
The screening process is not always accurate or useful in showing the level that the students are
at, and the way that the school assesses progress is not helpful. It does not use accurate or
effective testing to determine if students are improving at a good rate.

I learned a lot from my interview with Mrs. Skelton and was very impressed by how
much she cared about her students and by how hard she worked. Her entire day was filled with
activities and pull-out sessions with students who need help. Most days she even works through
her lunch hour, because there are students who need extra support. Her students know that she
cares about them, and work hard in her classroom. It definitely inspired me to work hard on my
advocacy project, and to look for ways to help ESL teachers find more effective methods for
assessing their ESL students.