Sunday, January 17, 2010

Progress report, January 2010

My Spanish classes still don't look like I think they should, and I feel like I've really lost focus on what matters to me as a teacher.  I'm getting bogged down in defining activities, reinforcing behavior, etc., and have let go the act of teaching Spanish.  Much more of my outside-of-class time should be spent planning units, designing learning activities, aligning assessments to learning goals, etc., and rather less spent designing school-wide and classroom behavior support systems.  The question I need to answer is: When my students are behaving the way I expect them to, and when I have everything planned out, what is it my students are actually doing?  And the corollary question--How do I get from where I am to that place?

The short version, of course, is that when the plans go as planned, the students are speaking Spanish.  All of my "more structure to class" activities are intended to make this easier to achieve.  When the students know what they're supposed to be doing all the time, the supposition goes, it won't matter what language I'm speaking to them in.  And more Spanish is more good.  Better.  You know.  Once classroom structures are in place, I continue to think, and once students know how to refer to them in Spanish, then it becomes easier to conduct everything else in Spanish.

What I think I'm missing, though, is two key pieces.  First, my students still see no reason to learn Spanish, so I have to give them a "why."   Second, of all the structures I've built and designed and stolen and taught, I'm not sure my students understand the process of learning a new language, so I have to give them a "how."  I know I do this all the time, but my students are almost universally frustrated by the process of learning new vocabulary, and forget it almost immediately.  They are not yet taking responsibility for their own learning, and I haven't yet figured out how to inspire them.

It feels like I keep tripping over this same dot on the floor.  Any thoughts?

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