Last year was my first year teaching 90-minute 7th and 8th grade Spanish classes. It was a huge adjustment from 40-minute Kindergarten-6th grade Spanish classes. I am the only middle school Spanish teacher at my school and took on the charge of Frankensteining my own TPRS curriculum. I learned a lot through these experiences and will choose to do some things different next year. Here they are:
1. Quit fighting the internal battle of Traditional vs TPRS teaching. It took me all year to strike a balance between traditional teaching and teaching with TPRS. I thought, at the beginning of the year, that I could pump my students full of Comprehensible Input all 90 minutes long. I found that to be exhausting. I then tried to use 45 minutes for TPRS and 45 for traditional methods. There never seemed to be enough time for it all.
My solution for next year: Use Comprehensible Input methods in a way that I don’t have to be the star the whole time (which we are always striving for, anyway!) I want to use more CI-based activities, partner/group competitions, (lots of great ideas here from Martina Bex) and spice it up with some station activities and traditional vocabulary games.
I’m also SUPER excited to be using Martina Bex’s curriculum to base my class on!!
2. Hold my students more accountable for their own learning. I really struggled with grading late work, classwork, warm-ups, closures, writings, homework, participation and quizzes. I felt like all the pressure was on me and very little was on them.
My solution for next year: Warm-ups and Closures will be graded twice each semester in notebook checks. I’m done with late homework. In general, homework will be to complete 100 points/week on Duolingo and I will grade it every 2 weeks. My participation will based on the phenomenal blog post I read here, from a fellow CI-teacher. With all the time I save, I can focus on giving my students meaningful feedback and creating some amazing lessons.
3. 8th graders revolt when they think they are being babied. My consistency lacked last year and, wow, 8th graders can sense that! I started the year as a traveling teacher, so my classroom management wasn’t as consistent as I wanted it, and due to the fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants curriculum, my lessons weren’t, either.
My solution for next year: Practice the really important procedures in the classroom, and not worry too much about the less important ones. I will be using Love and Logic to guide my classroom management interactions. I will also have students track L1 infractions and the storyline using the three notebooks that Ben Slavic outlines in this handout on page 39.
Here’s to continually improving!