Sunday, April 3, 2016

What's the password?!

So if you walk by my classroom during passing period, you'll most likely see something a little out of the ordinary for the average classroom: a line of students.

In the window to get into my classroom there is a green sign that reads: "Puedes pasar" (You can pass) and "No puedes pasar" (You cannot pass). The latter makes me think of Gandalf talking to the Balrog in the Fellowship of the Ring. Although I am sure he would have said something like, "No pasarás" (You shall not pass.)

Last year, students had to shake my hand to enter and I would say "good morning" or "good afternoon" to them.

This year, I have followed in the footsteps of some foreign language teaching pioneers and I make my students tell me a secret code before they can enter.

The secret code is posted on a small white board in the classroom with the Spanish and English translation.

If a student missed when I changed it, they will help each other out. If they can't say it or get confused, I tell the class "Hay un problema" (there is a problem) or "___ necesita ayuda" (___ needs help.)  Then they will tell the student the password.

Before trying it, I thought, "Oh man. There's probably going to be a student who refuses to say the password and I will either have to let them in or I will have some problem managing the situation." Yet that hasn't happened yet.

Since I am on a block (see classes every other day), I do the same password for 2 weeks (5 class periods).

The Good:
For years, I have tried to not let students come into my classroom early and "hang out" so that I can set the tone for my room as something different. It's not a place to goof off, but rather a place to learn. I want their being in there on my terms.

I've noticed the password only further generates excitement for my students as they walk in. While some probably aren't huge fans, they play along.

I am able to cover additional rejoinders that I don't often think to use during the year (see list below). We can also use these newly taught phrases during class whenever applicable.

The Bad:
I haven't really seen anything that has impacted the classroom negatively as a result of the password. Key word: yet.

Here's a list of the rejoinders that we have used since first semester:
muy amable ([you're] too kind)
¿en serio? (seriously?)
qué chévere (how cool)
ni modo (oh well)
con permiso (if you'll excuse me)
tienes razón (you're right)
¡YA BASTA! (Enough already)
No lo creo. (I don't believe it)
Lo siento (I'm sorry)
Buena suerte (good luck)

For more ideas, check out Bryce Hedstrom's post on this that inspired me!

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