Another fun Saturday…thinking about TPRS

reflections, TPRS

Here I am once again, staring at my laptop for ideas to improve my practice.  How do so many teachers have so much time on their hands to constantly post so many good ideas, let alone come up with them?  It seems silly to go ahead and create my own stuff when there are so many resources all over the internet.  It also gets confusing trying to use other teacher’s resources since we all have our own teaching styles.

I didn’t complete the blog challenge, but I was able to reflect for 25 days and have even been reflecting since then.   Over the past several weeks what I have discovered, is that I really want to begin teaching with TPRS and CI, all the time.  I have explored many blogs, sites, and resources and am so intrigued…but also overwhelmed.  It’s so different than what I have been doing, that I can’t even begin to wrap my head around how to make the switch.  I did, however, do some investigating and try asking a short story I found on Ben Slavic’s blog @benslavic in some of my classes.  While things aren’t exactly where I would like them to be classroom management-wise, I did manage to get more students simultaneously involved in the activity than on a regular basis, and amazingly enough, a child did utter the words, “That was fun”, at the end of class which is HUGE considering what I have been dealing with the last month and a half.

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#ReflectiveTeacher Blog Day Challenges Days 22, 23, 24 & 25!!!!!

classroom management, reflections

Day 22 – My PLN.  This is a new term for me that I cannot believe I missed out on all of this time.  Right now I have been using Twitter to search for new ideas.  I have been blogging, also new, but I was hoping for some more advice.  That’s ok though.  I am interested in contributing to the #langchat discussions, however, I am not always familiar with the topic.  Somehow, I have missed some important concepts and tools of teaching these past four years as a teacher.  I am excited though to use these networks to grow and become a more proficient Spanish teacher so that I can get my students to reach proficient fluency as well.

Day 23 – I would love to meaningfully involve my school’s community in the learning of my classroom but I am not doing this currently.  Last year I did have a website, but my students barely knew it existed even though it was on the board all year and I mentioned it every single day.  Therefore, I have not started up a new classroom website just yet.  I would like to try google classroom for my students though or another site.  I am not sure which is best and will meet all of my and my students needs.  I was using google sites last year.  Any ideas for best class site?

Day 24 – I have been hearing more and more TCI and TPRS.  While I thought these were strategies that I learned about in my foreign language education courses, apparently it encompasses more than what I already know.  I work in a school where I think my students’ access to technology outside of school is limited, so right now I would rather focus on something with which I can see the results working in front of me.  Flipped classroom sounds great but in this setting I know the students would never do the work outside of school unfortunately.

Day 25 – I want to see my students helping one another more in their interactions.  I want them to only speak Spanish.  When someone doesn’t know an answer, I want someone to give hints in Spanish to help their peer.  I want them to use more circumlocution and not get discouraged and complain when they don’t understand every single word that is presented to them.  I want them to be more positive and patient and QUIET so that they are receptive to instruction and learning.  I still haven’t gotten the classroom management underway and it has been very very hard.  I am not a brand new teacher, but I believe this is the worst I have experienced.  I have been very discouraged.  I want to use all of these new ideas to teach my students but I can barely teach some classes anything without them acting up and being disrespectful.  I have gone over rules and procedures many times but it hasn’t helped.  I spend each day staying a couple hours over calling parents and writing referrals.  I really don’t know what to do, but I hope to make some improvements and it better be soon.

#ReflectiveTeacher Blog Challenge Day #21 – hobbies or interests

reflections

Other than Spanish I love yoga.  I do it at least 4 times a week for quite some time now.  If I didn’t end up getting a position this year due to my furloughed position I was going to do the teacher training at the yoga studio I go to, finally.  It is every Saturday and Sunday starting next weekend and goes through December.  On my hardest days I could almost cry that I am even working and not collecting unemployment while doing teacher training certification.

I believe that without yoga, I would be a mess.  It is tough enough already with the amount of times I take a yoga class a week.  I think it reminds me to breathe and focus when times are difficult.  I use this technique every single day.

My first year teaching I taught PE/Health Immersion.  I was able to incorporate some yoga in that class of course because it was PE.  Other than that, I haven’t really had the opportunity.  I bet it wouldn’t hurt to get the kids to stand up and stretch a bit before we get started.  I should try it.  Our classes are only 42 mins and it sometimes takes 10 minutes to even get the kids to all sit in their seats and listen so often I don’t try to incorporate anything else than what I absolutely need to accomplish.  Maybe it would help though.  I can give it a shot.

#ReflectiveTeacher Blog Challenge Day #20 – curating student work

reflections

@TeachThought  Everyone of these posts makes me reflect on what I will do or want to do, rather than what I am doing.  I am going to blame that on what resources I have had available to me up until now and including now.

If in curate, you mean, display, I will say that I generally in the past have displayed student work by hanging it in the classroom the good old-fashioned way.  I haven’t had lots of tech tools at my fingertips so that is all I have really done.  Onetime I had students create blogs of an imaginary trip through google sites.  That seemed to work pretty well and was about the most public student work had become on the WWW.

#ReflectiveTeacher Blog Challenge Day 18 – Teachers are superheroes

reflections

Well, I’m way behind.

A teacher is a superhero.  At least an effective teacher is.

This is my third career.  This is my fourth year teaching in an urban setting.  Before this I worked as a sales trainer and before that, an industrial engineer.  I’m only 34, but I guess I am indecisive, and I was just dissatisfied with my previous careers.  So I went back to school to be a teacher.  I acquired a lot of debt, not surprisingly, but I finally found a career that I believe is the most important one anyone can have, and also the most difficult job imaginable.

This year so far has been significantly more difficult than the past two.  I would say the first year was the hardest year of my life, just as everyone says it can be.

I work in high school with teens and I am trying to inspire them with Spanish and culture.  I truly believe in the importance of learning a language, especially Spanish.  I believe that it can open so many doors for my students, in some cases, doors that they never knew were there and could have never imagined in their wildest dreams.  Unfortunately, many of my students seem to be against opening doors, learning and acting like young adults, especially where I am this year.  Of course, this is a dilemma that many of us see when working with teens, but in this setting especially, many of these kids have other, more pressing issues on their minds.  For example, I have quite a few students who live in group homes.  One girl told me her mom doesn’t want her and didn’t show up to her court date that morning.  I looked closer at this young lady the other day and wondered whether or not she could be pregnant.  I have more than one teen mom and a young 16 year old boy who’s girlfriend, or perhaps just the mother of his child, had their child.  I’ve called parents who hung up on me when I told them about what their child did in class.  I’m not surprised when some of these children don’t want to learn a language.

I imagine and daydream about what it could be like if I can get all these students on board with speaking Spanish and how amazing it would feel to be a part of that miracle.  I do not feel very hopeful so far, but I will continue to pray about it and try my hardest to make a difference.  If I overcome this challenge, I will be a superhero.  Those of you that already feel like superheroes, congratulations to you.  Thank yourself for being amazing.

#ReflectiveTeacher Blog challenge Day 17 – most challenging issue in education today

reflections

@TeachThought  I would agree with some of the others who posted that the most challenging issue today is definitely tied to money and budget cuts.  Because of cuts, I was furloughed and rehired at a different location.  I wonder how some of your districts are.  The first place I worked did not have a teacher’s union and it seemed more stable as far as I could see, but I was only there two years.

Here we are automatically part of the union and when someone is cut, whoever was hired last loses their position and that person with more seniority slides into their spot.  It’s very confusing and doesn’t make any sense.  I believe that this instability in the staff at a school makes it difficult for students and also for teachers who have worked hard all year to build a rapport with her students.  I think it is necessary to gain the trust of one’s students before you can make any big changes in their education.  My students that knew me already, that I would’ve seen again this year would have acted differently than they had at the beginning of the year last year, and would have known what to expect and how to work well in my classroom.

This I believe can be tied to a possibly even larger problem, which is racial disparity.  One of the district’s goals is to eliminate racial disparity.  Instilling a trusting environment takes time, but is essential for maintaining a positive and effective classroom.  I would have had some of the same kids from last year had I not been furloughed, and I wouldn’t have had to win them over.  They would have come in knowing me and trusting me.  They would do what I asked for the most part, because they signed up to have class with me again this year.  There would be no surprises because the class would run in the same manner that they were familiar with.  The struggle would be limited.  Of course there would have been new students that I didn’t know, but being that I had a good reputation, they would find out about that and have some idea what to expect to an extent.

Today was a good day though.  On the bright side I believe that all of the moving around can connect you with administration and other teachers throughout the district.  I also think that even if my position seems more challenging than last year I am going to come out a better, stronger, more efficient teacher.  I left a good reputation at the other school and I hope I can make a good one for myself here as well.  I must take care of myself though and go to sleep.  Good night

#ReflectiveTeacher Blog Challenge Day 15 – 3 strengths

reflections
  1. Caring – I usually know my students’ names after the first week.  I give them an interest survey that week as well so that I can know ABOUT them and build up a rapport with them.
  2. Innovative – I strive to make lessons as engaging as possible even though it doesn’t always work out.
  3. Extra hard working – I work way too much.  I work really hard to make lesson plans as comprehensive as possible.

#ReflectiveTeacher Day 14 Blogging Challenge – feedback for students

feedback, reflections

Feedback is tough because often times it can seem that no one is reading it but you.  At our district we are required to give oral assessments in Level 3 where the students are supposed reach Proficient which is the same as ACTFL’s intermediate low.  I am not a master of feedback by any means, but last year I listened to my three level three classes Practice exams and I wrote down what they said and gave them examples of what they should say.  It took forever, and I’m not sure whether they read it or not.  There are 9 different themes/topics.

I am bad at feedback and need advice of how to make it simpler.  I will write out little notes on assignments of how to say what they are trying to say but I am not consistent at all.  The rubric we use for scoring the oral assessments are nice because they allow you to select a category for the students to work on and they highlight what they ARE able to do.  I should take a closer look at those and create feedback from those for oral assessments.  Speaking assessments are all the district really cares about but I can’t help wanting give them vocab and grammar quizzes because I still believe it can be important.  As a learner I am interested in knowing how to do things with language even if it is tough or confusing.  I need to try to change that mindset.  I learned how to be a teacher that teaches grammar inductively and is careful about making corrections in order to keep the affective filter low.  I know all about comprehensible input and scaffolding.  I know about all the right ways to do things but I fell upon this blogging challenge and twitter because I am forgetting about that stuff sometimes and just rushing to get through stuff so that we’re ready when the exams hit which we’ll never be if I don’t teach the right way.  I’m tired and about to start talking in circles.  Happy Sunday evening everyone. I always finding myself hanging on to the last minutes to put off the work week but its already on its way so I better get some sleep.

#ReflectiveTeacher Day 13 – edtech tools

reflections, technology

Hm…this is so crazy because I started out in a school that embraced technology and now due to my technology deficit over the past year, I am not even sure if I know what edtech tools are.  Are we talking about technology tools in general or are there particular tools that I should know about that fall under the category “edtech”?

I feel like I am really reiterating myself a lot throughout this blogging experience, but to do it again, as I previously mentioned, last year there was a lack of technology.  This year, I have tons at my finger tips, but I haven’t put it to use yet.  Mainly because I have some classroom management issues that are new to me this year and I would hesitate to trust some of these kids with a pencil, let alone an iPad.  I do however just give them the pencils even though they are high school students and they pretty much just throw them on the floor when they are done with them along with everything else I give them.  It’s nuts.

But none of this is neither here nor there, other than, I am not currently using edtech or anytech tools.  But in the perfect world when things get settled, my favorite technology tools in the Spanish classroom are anything where all the kids can participate or collaborate at once.

I love google docs, presentations, forms, spreadsheets, etc.  I love Voicethread although I am uncertain if I am going to be able to use it at this school because I believe it costs money now.  I used a tool called Socrative at my old district which was neat because the students could compete to finish a short review quiz, etc.  I’d like to get their cellphones loaded with Bakodo or something similar so that they can read barcodes and be led to explore, perhaps for a warmup.  I have some upper level classes that are small so I think I will start small with them and then branch out to my other classes so that everyone can benefit.  I want to try Google Classroom.  It looks simplistic but I am sure it is useful.

So, not sure if this answers the questions but there you have it.

#ReflectiveTeacher Blog Day #11 – Favorite part of day and why

reflections

This year my favorite part of the day is the morning when I arrive because I don’t have a first period.  I like this time because it gives me a few minutes to sit and mentally prepare myself for the challenging day ahead.  My favorite parts of the day last year was when students would stop by during my free periods just to say hi.  I had a student last year who never came to class and eventually ended up failing Spanish.  For some reason though, he would stop by on days that he had skipped just to say hello.  I wrote him up but no one did anything.  Even my least achieving students last year were sweet kids.