Saturday, March 5, 2011

Taking it for granted

I've been working really hard on developing an English IV and Honors English curriculum this semester.  I've also been trying to push Spanish II forward, and have been looking ahead to the possibility of Spanish III and IV.  I've been coasting through my Spanish I, trying to catch up with everything else.  On Thursday, it bit me in the temporal adverb.

I've been through this lesson a dozen times before, so I came in a little underprepared.  I hadn't looked over my notes or the handout that I'd be giving--this presentation had worked every other year; why not today?  Well, it didn't.  It was kind of a disaster.  I still don't know what happened; I wish I'd been video taping.  The practical upshot is that I had to re-teach the entire lesson on Friday.

This experience got me thinking about taking things for granted.  For the first time in my professional career, I haven't had to fight tooth and nail for every inch of learning my students achieve.  Some of them study Spanish outside of class; many of them use my throw-away utterances in their own Spanish conversations.  Most of them know better than to ask for translations or to shout out the English once they've figured something out.  I have yet to send a student to the principal's office, or indeed to use any punitive measure other than a reminder of rules and procedures, maybe an explanation of why they're important, and to hold some "extreme" cases after class for a minute.

It's March now, and because of all the amazing achievements my students are making, I've been thinking that I'm doing a great job of teaching them.  Also, they mostly behave really well, so I sort of thought my classroom community program was working effectively.  It turns out I'm the guy born on third who thinks he hit a triple.  I've gotten lazy with re-teaching expectations, positively reinforcing behaviors, reviewing content, and re-designing lessons to meet students' needs.  In fact, I've almost forgotten that the students have needs.  I've been teaching Spanish 1 for long enough that most of my weekly plans play on several different intelligence types, and most contain some level of differentiation of instruction.  So I really have just been pulling out old weekly plans and photocopying old handouts, and calling it a day.

Thursday really was a wake-up call for me: I can't make it through the week just planning my "new" classes.  My Spanish I students deserve the same level of prep that my English students do.  I apologized to them on Friday as I re-taught the lesson, hopefully better.  (It felt better.)  If there are any students reading this now, I apologize again.

1 comment:

Raymond said...

Re-teaching of expectations are a sure fire best practice strategy. I remind teachers all the time when they start to make comments about behaviors in the classroom that classroom management is the first strategy to ensuring achievement. I really like what CHAMPS does for the teachers who use it. I had a chance to attend training this year for CHAMPS and after learning the program and seeing a teacher use it effectively in the classroom I can see why it is a fantastic program. But we must re-teach or allude often to what has all ready been taught if we want it to work. Of course a culture of high expectations doesn't hurt.