This year is my first year with Spanish 3 and next year will be my first year with Spanish 4. By taking the CI/TPRS route, I’ve been focusing so much on input that my anxiety has been through the roof about getting the kids to eventually OUTPUT the language. I’ve really been promoting my program as proficiency based, with college credits (dual enrollment) and the Seal of Biliteracy as achievable goals. I know you can’t force output, I know that having them memorize things to say isn’t communication. So I’ve been thinking “Well shoot, what am I going to do?!” HOW DO I MAKE THE KIDS (and by extension my program) PERFECT?!
(enter Brené Brown and her work re: perfectionism as a shield to vulnerability. Yup, that’s me… but I’m gonna save Brené for another post).
So ANYWAY… I saw this post on Facebook a while back about CAFÉ and CONVERSACIÓN and knew that it would be a good idea to do this with my Spanish 3 class. First of all, they are a small group (one class of 7, one class of 4). This makes it possible to make and enjoy coffee together. Secondly – this group of kids is down to do ANYTHING I want to try out. They are the best!! (I’ve talked about them before!)
A narrative (as usual) plus some actual stuff to share. How did my semester go? What did I teach in each class? What will I give for finals and how will I grade them? What are my plans for next semester?
Well my last posts were over the summer and were all about how I was doing summer planning to prepare for my new Spanish 3 course, setting up a new classroom, and planning for my 6-week maternity leave during 1st quarter. As usual, I put my head down during first semester and just tried to survive (not thrive) back to school + maternity leave + DEVOLSON + motherhood. Blogging DURING the school year ain’t me. Sadly. So… here are my plans for December exams this year.
This is my 9th year teaching. This is my 3rd year at my current school. This is the 5th school where I’ve taught. I got a new (bigger) room over the summer. I’ve set up and torn down a LOT of classrooms. I’ve hoarded materials for many years (including saving stuff from my HS Spanish classes 15 years ago…)
My room is NOT (in my opinion) Instagrammy or cute. But that’s OK – I LOVE my room. And I LOVE Instagrammy rooms too. I gotta do me and you gotta do you. I’m super over it with teacher shaming right now. So let me get a few things out of the way before I share my 21 minute video with you… (all 4 of you who read my blog).
This post is simply to say in some kind of public platform how proud I am of my teacher BFF, Frau.
She survived her first 3 years of teaching with yours truly as a colleague… in a new town (with NOOOTTTHHHIINNGGG to do), away from family and friends, turning 22 the day before school started. Yeesh. (I’m kind of a lot…. but I’m also a good “no BS” ally and “Get sh*t done” buddy…. is that apparent yet?)
In her first 3 years, she grew her program enough to break up the dreaded combined level 3/4 class into two separate sections.
She gained a following of German students who will forever be obsessed with her and her dorky passion for the German language and other nerdy things that kids just love to see in an adult.
She survived being treated as a second-class teacher at that school. She was excluded from “department” meetings, admin citing that GERMAN didn’t have the need to meet with the SPANISH department.
We both tried in vain to transform the department into a proficiency based program that followed World Readiness Standards. With her her exclusion, I was effectively isolated during meetings as well. (Jokes on YOU, former school… the STATE JUST ADOPTED THOSE STANDARDS IN EFFECT NOW, MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!)
She made the choice to leave that school (the same year as I did) for greener pastures. When I was called as a reference and they asked for a “negative” about Frau, it was hard to come up with something, but I said “she often has done the research, put something into practice, reflected on it… and is ready to move forward… but gets distracted by self-doubt. She needs somewhere where she is free to experiment and encouraged to learn and grow.” I mean… aren’t we all like that sometimes? Especially on our CI/TPRS/#authres/Proficiency/IPA/ACTFL journeys? There are so many roads to take, so many #EduCelebs to follow – it’s hard to build up confidence. (Plus the patriarchy, amiright?)
In her two years at her new school, she took on multiple levels and ages and had to travel between THREE classrooms (and 2 buildings, I think?) – She now had a Frau colleague and it was so nice to have someone else working in the same language. But as many of us Spanish teachers know, there are pros and cons to colleagues. (I personally am enjoying my current #deptof1 status in my 9th year teaching, myself.) Frau grew in confidence and skill, as we all do in our 4th and 5th years of teaching.
Let me tell you how now how I know that Frau has MADE IT
A sweet-ass job was posted in a Facebook group and she was just like “yeah I’m gonna write an email.” – so chill, non-chalant, no self-doubt in sight. Just like “YOLO – I am worthy of this, why not?”
6 days later, she was invited for an interview. I’d love to share the selfie she sent me which shows how chill and YOLO she was about it, but it might end our BFFship. Sometimes we look a liiiiiitle rough in our selfies. Here, I’ll just share one of me that I sent back as a response (it’s my guuuuurll… I’m proud and you DOIN IT face… wearing my husbands shirt over my giant, pregnant, no-money-to-touch-up-roots self)
Here’s the best part. There we are a few weeks later, texting about how the first interview went (after she told me she was ALREADY invited for a 2nd) and she’s telling me about it like she’s not the lil baby Frau I once knew… she’s saying how she talked about her experience with CI workshops, MOPI training, blogs and online PD and PLNs… and then she sends ME THIS TEXT RIGHT HERE
So she’s just “prepping” for this 2nd interview like
And I’m just like…..
Anyway, she got the job and I’m obsessed with her and I’m so excited. So… Here’s to you, buddy.
Once I get her on board with having a bigger social media presence, I’ll link her info here. She needs some German CI colleagues, it’s lonely being a Frau!!!
I don’t like the weighted categories used in our school handbook, I don’t like this, I don’t like that… my CI/storytelling style isn’t like other classes and confuses people. Many of us already know this struggle. It can be hard to define “rigor” in a class that doesn’t have homework every night and giant exams full of trick questions. So – I’ve made a little “explanation” document with news, etc as well as a syllabus for each class this year (Spanish 1, 2, 3).
My syllabi, the wording, and the style are heavily influenced by Mis Clases Locas – hers are available on TPT! – and The Comprehensible Classroom (Martina – I swore there was an updated one that even inspired the colors I used… but I can’t find it?)
Last year’s Curriculum Camp was a huge success. Brief summary – my teacher BFF and I no longer work together but have always said [during the school year] we need time to just sit with like-minded people and like…. GO THROUGH all this stuff and actually PLAN IT (rather than be in survival mode during the year).
Well; we realized that WE ARE the like minded people and nobody was going to call or email us and offer to babysit us through our teaching journey. So Curriculum Camp was born. It’s literally just the two of us going through all our crap and attempting to organize our thoughts together. Early on in the summer while the school year is still in our minds – we meet, spread out all of our saved (smudged, crinkled) papers, open up all our tabs, and get to talking.
This year, I have two additional things to plan; 1) Adding level a level 3 class (every year I add a new one b/c I’m building a new program) and 2) my maternity leave Sept 16 – Oct 25. A caveat to my maternity leave plan – Thanks the the amazing national, Illinois and specifically rural Illinois teacher shortage… I don’t think I’ll be finding an actual Spanish teacher (let alone Spanish SPEAKER) for my maternity leave. It’s possible it will even be filled by multiple people. So… that’s been on my mind for the past year basically (yes, that’s before I even got pregnant when I was deciding if I even WANTED to, considering how obsessed I am with my new teaching position). ANYWAY….
This year, Frau is in Austria right now and we’re meeting later in June. But since my planning anxiety has been around for 1,000 months now, I’m getting started. I thought I would use a blog post to 1) organize my own thoughts for Frau and myself and 2) share with others what I’m thinking about this summer.
I know a lot of teachers and teacher-moms are unplugging this summer. Taking time for themselves and families, etc. Reading for pleasure. Not on social media, etc. THAT’S JUST NOT ME Y’ALL. I LITERALLY CAN’T. Doing this planning and daydreaming and obsessing makes me feel good, it’s who I am, so – if this stresses you out and you’re trying to just enjoy your summer, then BOOKMARK this for later and close this page now!
It is evident from my blog history that I am only able to write as the semesters wind down. Blogging just doesn’t make the cut during the weeks and months I’m trying to survive teaching and momming. I’m hoping to get organized this summer and attempt to use this blog as a sharing platform AS WELL as using it as a personal reflection platform. Anyway – I have a lot I want to write over the summer as I look back on the year… but thought I’d share this out today while people are still in school so you can use it or make something like it for your kids. We don’t live in an area that has a Spanish-speaking community near by and my kids don’t have a TON of flexible transportation options. So what can I do to get Spanish into their ears and eyes over the summer?
Here is a link to it on Google Slides that I used to design it – this way you can make your own copy and change the lingo (mine is VERY “me”) and change the links or Netflix suggestions if you’d like to.
First of all – I don’t know if I’m supposed to call them midterms or finals. I prefer midterms – Spanish is a yearlong class and the Midterm is in December. Apparently, I’m wrong. I know – unbelievable. So anyway – This post is referring to the Exams that kids take in December to end 1st semester when they are going to come back and see you in January for 2nd semester.
I’m pretty into how it went. I’m gonna go ahead and turn this into an autobiographical, tell-all post that is way longer than it needs to be. Ready?
Here’s a cool thing I did in class today. I stumbled across this book in the pile of books that our Pre-K library didn’t want anymore. Most of these books are super old, stinky, outdated, etc. However, being the typical teacher-hoarder and mom of a Pre-K kid, I tend to sift through these outcast books before they’re sent into the great beyond. Perro Grande…Perro Pequeño was one such book. When I find a bilingual book at all in the pile – I can’t really say noo, CAN I?!?! NO, claro que no. Well I hung onto it for a while and at one point my 3yo son found it and thought it was for him, so I let him keep it in his room for a while, but now that My HS Spanish 1 class is reading Brandon Brown quiere un perro… I knew I could use it in some way. Read more about how I’m using Brandon Brown here.