Stonewall Jackson was my last placement of Student Teaching, and my very first teaching opportunity at a middle school. The school itself was located in a low income, and low socio-economic background area. The school was also Roanoke City's central hub for English Language Learners; meaning I had the opportunity to work with a lot of different students who spoke English as a second language.
The school itself has been unaccredited for four years and definitely faces some obstacles. The teachers I had the opportunity to work with were both very nice and taught me a lot about how things are run within the school system. I learned a lot about Roanoke City schools and how their meetings are held, about their track to getting back on the path to accreditation, and how programs within the school are run; such as a mentor program and the school's athletics teams.
My biggest challenge working at Stonewall Jackson was working with the ELL students. I have prior experiences with working with ELL students but the overwhelming number within the school made teaching a typical class challenging. There were too many students who struggled with the language to work one on one with them; so you had to approach things differently and be sure to constantly check their level of comprehension. Some of the students in this school spoke small tribal languages, which really presented a challenge. It's very difficult when you cannot even exchange pleasantries with a student. Luckily Physical Education tends to be a very observable class thanks to the activity.
Every obstacle faced eventually came to an end thanks to the help of my clinical faculty, and working to breakdown the barriers, and recognizing the importance of cultural backgrounds within the classroom.