I am entering week 4 of teaching my 7th grade exploratory Spanish class. Last year I struggled with junior high since I had no set curriculum and it was my first year teaching. I was lost to say the least. This year is SO much better! I gave up on the outdated textbook I tried to follow last year and instead sat down and asked, “What are the basic building blocks I want to give these kids in Spanish?” I settled on:
-meeting new people
Now, four weeks in, I think some of that will be changing. We’ve covered numbers 1-20 and are going to work on 20-60 for time this week. We’ve done colors and alphabet and will start meeting new people later on this week. From there I think I’ll see what the students want to learn or where their questions lead me. I recycle our past knowledge a lot to keep it fresh and students are beginning to integrate past knowledge into our new activities on their own and tell me what color the clocks are or how many there are.
This class is “that class”. I am the last teacher in the rotation to have them this year and was warned that they would be a handful and probably my least favorite class. They are an energetic handful, true. They are not that motivated by grades or points. They struggled in other classes to complete assignments and put forth effort. I have had some students not put forth much effort but they are in the minority and some of them have other factors such as ELL and learning differences contributing to that.
Students that I know tend to struggle in their other classes are doing great in Spanish! I contribute this to the fact that I have ditched the textbook. I am challenging them a lot by using lots of Spanish and CI. I give them a lot to do in activities. Most activities have involved listening to Spanish and speaking in complete Spanish sentences. I provide them the stems and they fill in the rest. I’ve only had to correct students and tell them to use the full Spanish sentences twice in three weeks. They enthusiastically use the language and ask questions about how to expand upon it. This is a group that is motivated by doing. By being challenged. That would not be happening if I was just using textbook activities. I am choosing to focus on communication rather than grammar and spelling. I am spending a lot more time on speaking and listening than I have in the past. This is a class that wants to talk so why not let them!
“That class” has become one of my favorites. I do have to stay on top of them when it comes to routines and making sure they know exactly what they should be doing but they do exactly what I ask and more without many issues. They enthusiastically participate and use TL even when I don’t ask! I will be leaving my current school at the end of this year and I regret that I will not be able to continue with this class who is quickly earning a special place in my teacher’s heart.
So, if you find yourself in the position of not knowing what to teach or where to begin. Start with a simple question, “What do I want these students to be able to do when they leave my class?”. You’ll find it goes quite smoothly from there.
Until Next Time,