Every year seems like the first! And it leaves me wondering if it is a good thing or a bad thing. Here’s what I learned on day one (of year 9).
1. Even when you are speaking completely comprehensibly (I’m talkin’: holding-up-ten-fingers-while-saying-“diez”-and-writing-the-number-on-the-board), if students have only had non-CI Spanish courses for one or two years, they will still still have that all-too-familiar deer-in-headlight look. And no, they won’t know what “diez” means, even while I’m grinning, singing, tap-dancing, and making myself look like a clown. Solution: tomorrow we are going to get up on our feet and get moving around the room! Hopefully this will help with the jitters. Once I take some kind of learning inventory, that will help, too.
2. Native speakers/heritage learners need CI, too. When my last class of the day (Spanish for Native Speakers 2) walked through the door, I was SO relieved to not have to monitor my language anymore. I could say whatever I wanted. We had a GREAT interactive lesson with pictures from my summer vacation, students creating crazy storylines about what I did and where I went, and a “hidden” review of preterite and imperfect. Students categorized the verbs into the two tenses, we looked at evidence showing which tense is which, and then they self-assessed and corrected their decisions based on the evidence we looked at. All in the target language; all in meaningful context. Upon viewing the reflections students handed in as they left, only four really “got it”. Solution: more examples, more CI, and we will definitely RECYCLE this concept many times this year!
3. Five preps is hard. I think I’m Super Woman, but it’s quite possible that I’m not. Luckily, earlier in the summer, I took advantage of some great advice from the musicuentos blog by Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell, and I went ahead and typed up all of my big ideas for every unit in every class, complete with general timeframes. Included in that advice was to plan the lessons for each week on Sunday. That keeps me from slaving over lesson plans until I get them all done at once. Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that in the time it takes someone to plan five days for one class, I have only planned one day for five classes!
4. I love my students. The brand new ones, the ones I have had for three years, I really love them all and I want them all to feel special and cared for. I want them all to gain something for my course. It would be really great if that something could be the expected proficiency level, but if it’s just finding a place where they feel loved and comfortable, that’s ok, too.
Hopefully it’s more of the former than only the latter!