Thursday, September 10, 2015

Reflection - Former students

So this is my third year in school (year 10 teaching) and I have definitely come a long way since I started teaching Spanish.  I used to use textbooks that were slightly older than me. Then I tried a year with a newer textbook.  Then I tried a year or two without a textbook.  Then, I found storytelling and haven't looked back!

But in my third year, I have had a lot of students now and many of them have had exposure to my teaching and another Spanish teacher as well.  I taught Spanish 1-2 the past two years and I'm only teaching Spanish 1 this year.

I know that what I do in my classes can be slightly unorthodox for other teachers, even teachers in my department. And they teach their classes differently from me (I'm not saying people have to teach like me).  But there are times I tell my wife that I feel like I am crazy.  Here's what I believe:

  1. I believe that TPRS is a really awesome way to deliver instruction
  2. I believe that TPRS is great for my classroom management
  3. I believe that TPR is a great tool to get the kids up and moving in class
  4. I believe that incorporating music whenever possible (in a comprehensible way) is huge for my students
  5. I believe that talking about my students in Spanish through stories, PQA, etc sets the tone for my classes that they will be about my students
  6. I believe that going slow and looking for my students' eyes to check for their understanding is crucial to their learning
  7. I believe that shaking my students' hands as they walk in and saying "buenos días", "hola" or whatever else, and slowly adding more conversational vocab as they walk in establishes the tone that you're entering the Spanish zone!
  8. I believe that other activities under the umbrella of Comprehensible Input (CI) are also wonderful additions to the classroom.
  9. I believe that I should do my best to speak 90% of class in Spanish in a repetitive, comprehensible and interesting way to ensure my students will acquire the language 
  10. I believe that explicit grammar instruction has a smaller place in my classroom than it used to so I can teach them through using the language correctly
  11. I believe that what I do is making a difference in their lives
These aren't all popular opinions in a foreign language classroom.  I've been called a maverick by an administrator at one point.  I've gotten myself into trouble with my fellow department members because I strongly believe the aforementioned items are crucial to my class for students' success (regardless of level).

But I digress.  Recently, I have had a lot of former students visit me and tell me how much my class meant to them and how much they miss it.  It's meant a lot because I give so much of myself in the school year to ensure class is a positive place where we can laugh and learn in a low stress way.  And it further affirms that all of the hard work I (and the students) put into class is worthwhile.


  1. I share in your teaching beliefs and totally understand your statement, "Then, I found storytelling and haven't looked back!"

    Great post.