I have made it a tradition to end each school year with a post reflecting on the year. It’s become a way for me to keep track of my progress as an Elementary Spanish teacher. I have been teaching for 20 years, and every year I find myself ditching things that didn’t work, adapting old things, and incorporating new ideas. I have discovered that I always like to try new things each year. This was my second year teaching in Austin. I am no longer the only Spanish teacher at the elementary level, as I was in the schools where I taught in Boston. I am extremely happy that I have two new compañeras that I get to learn from everyday. Given that this was my second year at this school, it felt better than last year. I spent last year getting to know my new school and the community. I also came to a school where part of the curriculum had already been created. Things were in many ways easier this year, and I feel that I was able to find my voice and share more ideas with my fellow teachers to bring new things into our curriculum. (Wow! I can’t believe how serious my post sounds! Believe me! I am not that seria!)
Teaching in the Target Language
My goal is to stay at 90% to 95% in the target language. There are days when I am able to stay in the target language 100%, but there are days when I feel that using that 10% of English (that I like to say I keep in my pocket) for classroom management, making sure every student understands, and making connections with my students is totally fine. My students clearly know that I am from Colombia, and I am immigrant, so I also want them to know that I am bilingual, and since I am teaching them a language, I want to be a multi-dimensional role model for them.
Let’ be honest! We all have those days when kids are all over the place! This year I made a poster with more simple rules. I used that poster as reference all the time, and I noticed that having the poster close allowed me to be more consistent and make sure the class was a safe learning space for everyone. I can’t take credit for the simple rules. One of my colleagues shared them, and since I love designing resources, I turned them into a poster for my classes. I placed the poster in front of the room, and I could refer to it when it was needed.
I have had years that I haven’t use a system and years where I have used different reward systems. For example, los billetes, la clase/la maestra points from Whole Brain Teaching, Secret Student, and, this year, Class Dojo, but for some reason this felt tiring to me so I decided not to use the points in the middle of the school year, and I can say that it was a relief. I felt that I was wasting time when children were trading their points for prizes and sometimes it felt that some of them were willing to work hard and follow directions just for the points. I also asked my students to vote, and many of them voted for not having points because it was stressful for some of them. At this point I don’t plan on using any point system next school year. I will focus more on using Responsive Classroom since I have been trained in it, and it was used widely in the previous schools where I taught. I will also use the SEL (Social Emotional Learning) program we use in my current school.
I am a brain break fanatic and I used a lot of them this school year. Some of my students wrote in their feedback that they feel that I need to use even more, so I plan to look for new ones this summer to add to my repertoire. Yoga worked great with my kindergarten and first grade students. I am looking forward to incorporating more mindfulness in the Spanish class since the school has a strong program too.
This is something I still need to work more on. Of course, because I am from Colombia I love teaching and sharing my culture with my students. We have included in our curriculum to share facts about two countries per month, but I still feel that we need to study this more deeply. Goal for next year!
Communication With Parents
In all the years I have been teaching, I can say that this year was by far the one I have communicated the least with parents. We are a team of three, and it wasn’t easy sometimes to coordinate to send newsletters. We have had conversations about using Seesaw more to communicate with parents. So far, I have used it as an assessment tool, but not as much I as I need too. Working on this next year!
What Am I Excited About Next Year?
It will be my third year teaching in Austin, so I know the students, the community and the curriculum! I am excited about being able to finally add my own voice and identity to the curriculum. I am excited to continue learning more about CI and TPRS, and I will also be writing stories! I also look forward to attending some conferences and maybe presenting again! And most important, really using the summer to recharge!
How was your school year? What goals do you have for next school year?
Enjoy the summer!