So this whole blogging thing, like most of my great ideas and great intentions, doesn’t appear that it has worked out like I had wanted it to. I wanted (and still want!) to use a blog to talk about my successes and failures in the classroom so that I, and perhaps eventually others, can learn and grow from each of those. However, if I neglect this all the time, that really isn’t a possibility. I have stayed up (kind of) on following other blogs to learn from veteran teachers, but I feel like I really need to start something of my own as well.
I guess I am back to write about my frustrations lately. With four snow days in a row (!!!), three of which were this week alone, I have had a lot of time to relax and de-stress, drink my coffee, and think about what I am doing in my classrooms. One of my biggest frustrations with myself is that if I have a good lesson in one class, I feel like the rest of my classes suffer. I teach six different things every day (including a “direct instruction” reading program during our advisory hour), and though I know perfection isn’t attainable, it bothers me to be so far from it. I feel like I just came off of a GREAT unit teaching To Kill a Mockingbird to my 9th grade English students, but my Spanish lessons, in turn, involved teaching and practicing verb conjugations. (I know, I know, you are all writhing in excitement at the chance to fill in those conjugation boxes! Wooo!) The truth is, teaching canned grammar lessons that come from the book like that, or just in general teaching directly from the book, is very much against what I was taught and what I believe about teaching. ESPECIALLY language teaching! I need less excuses and just to make it work, I guess.
I really want to use the TPRS method in teaching my Spanish classes. Like, really, REALLY want to use it. I KNOW it is what is best for my students, and it follows every single thing I have been taught about language acquisition, even if I have not, speciAnfically, been taught to use TPRS. The problem, I think, is that I indeed have not been taught to use TPRS, and I am somewhat of a perfectionist. If it’s not a slam-dunk lesson, I tend to be discouraged; and I can guarantee that I have yet to have a slam-dunk lesson. I feel like I really need a mentor teacher for this. I have a great mentor teacher at school, but she is an English teacher; I feel like I need more support and advise from a foreign language teacher. I am also frustrated lately with the attitude of some of my students. Several are dropping at the semester from already having finished their 2-year requirement, and when asked why they wanted to switch mid-year they responded that it was because they were learning to read and write, but not to speak. Perhaps that was because they chose to have conversations in English while we practiced such skills? Or did barely the minimum when they did participate? While I am not doing TPRS as I would like to, I know I providing opportunities for all students to practice each of the language modalities every day! It is frustrating that they, then, blame their laziness on the rigor of the class! I suppose, though, this is even more argument for me to get back trying to make TPRS really work for me.
ANYWAY, I didn’t intend for this post to just be one big Negative Nelly pity party. I am officially off my soap box and willing to make some changes. I have made a TPRS lesson that I am confident with for Spanish 1 (with family vocab!), and I have used the advice of other/veteran language teachers to work on re-vamping the curriculum for my middle school class. Being that my MS class is only a semester-long class, I will start over with a new group this week and intend to try out some new procedures with them. I am toying with the idea of introducing some of these things in Spanish 1 and 2 with the new semester as well, but I am not sure yet. I will think about that and evaluate how big of a change that will be for them tomorrow while they take their exams. Specifically, I want to start using Stamp Sheets to show proficiency/ I -can statements, as the wonderful bloggers from The Creative Language Class use.
Anyway, this was a lot of rambling today. A lot to think of and a lot to work with. Luckily, I am feeling motivated right now and ready for positive change. Last year (year one), I was ready to quit my job and run away from adulthood at this point in the year, so I can definitely see some improvements already! Win!
My last, and completely unrelated note: I get married in less than 11 months! I am going to have to change my Blog address/ username!