This year I have been receiving more messages than ever from new Spanish teachers, so dear new Spanish teacher, this post has been written with you in mind. I completely get it! With the current situation and all the uncertainty for the fall, it’s completely normal for any teacher (no matter how long you have been teaching) to feel nervous, but especially for our colleagues who are new to the profession.

I try to put myself in the shoes of a new teacher during COVID times, and I can’t imagine the frustration that some of you might be feeling. Thinking about starting the new school year in a virtual classroom environment makes me feel butterflies in my stomach,  but I am also grateful that at least there are digital tools and platforms to support our teaching. I am aware that those tools might not be accessible for every student or teacher, which I can’t wrap my head around because I don’t live in a third world or developing country, yet the inequities of this system are real and more visible during COVID times.

Because I don’t have experience starting the school year in a virtual way, I can only go back to my feelings during my first years of teaching and rely on what has worked for me under “normal conditions” while adapting for what I have learned more recently and giving it my best shot.

Support System

Something that I remember was very valuable as a first time Spanish teacher in the United States was the group of teachers who were supportive and open to be my shoulder to cry on when needed. We were seven Latinas in a very white school system in suburban Boston. They were welcoming and happy to share all their knowledge with me. This was almost 20 years ago, so no Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter were there. I do remember some Yahoo Groups and a website run by a veteran Spanish teacher called “Anacleta’s World Language and Cultural Resources” that I frequently visited to get inspired.

After teaching in that school system for 4 years, the district held a property tax override vote, and guess which program got eliminated first? You guessed right! The Spanish program 🙁 . After that, I moved to a private school and there I was the only PreK-3 Spanish teacher. The school also had a French program for grades 4-6 alongside the Spanish program, so the French and Spanish teachers worked together, and I was kind of on my own. It felt very lonely, and that’s what inspired me to start my blog. I wanted to be able to connect virtually with other teachers who were teaching the same early grade levels as I was. I also contacted other elementary Spanish teachers in my area and hosted monthly meetings to exchange ideas and vent if needed. In the school where I currently teach, I have two colleagues, and we teach the same levels, so it’s nice to have someone to exchange with and learn from for professional growth. Along with this, I belong to a few Facebook groups for Spanish teachers and also am part of a small WhatsApp group with two other Colombian teachers (Profe Valentina and La Profe de Español) where we frequently communicate to share ideas and support each other.

Why am I telling this whole story? Well, just to invite you to find your support system. It could be colleagues in other schools close to you or a teacher who can serve as your mentor in your own school. If you use social media, I recommend identifying a few Facebook groups or teachers on Instagram that you can follow and learn from. I do advise starting with just a few because it might be overwhelming with tons of information and little time to process while navigating a new profession.

Understand in Which Type of Program You Will Be Teaching

Knowing the type of program you will be teaching in will help you think about the short and long term goals for your program. So much depends on the amount of contact time you will have with your students. The program may be FLES* (Foreign Language in Elementary School), FLEX* (Foreign Language Experience), a Content-Based program, or a number of other program types, but just by knowing the type of program will help you identify some of your goals and keep a nice balance between ambitious idealism and being practical within the limitations of the program’s boundaries. Visit this link to understand more about the various different types of programs. And if you need to play a sort of public / stakeholder relations role, knowing the type of program will also help you to educate your administrators, school community, and parents (and nicely but firmly help them temper or gear their expectations for the language acquisition process, pace, etc.). I’ll say it again, knowing what type of program you have will also help you create short and long term goals for your program – for students, for yourselves, and for key players in the wider community in which your work is situated.

*FL should be changed to WL!

Get To Know Your School Community

The first year is hard for any teacher in a new school. You are trying to understand the school community and culture, getting to meet and name the different people in your school, understanding what each acronymous means and so on! The most important people, apart from your students are the custodians and the school administrative staff. They will be the ones who will help you first! Our school secretary sometimes covers our classes when we need to do quick things in school. So keep their names in your head and make sure to thank them with a big “GRACIAS” all the time!

KISS, KISS, KISS= Keep It Simple Sweetie!

If this is the first year for your program, you might have to teach the same units or stories to every grade level while you build up your curriculum. You might need to developmentally adapt the content to make it fit for every grade. You will find yourself creating materials, so keeping it simple is the best way to go. I have found that because the needs of elementary language programs can vary so much, it’s hard to stay with just one “commercial” or “off the shelf” curriculum.

Identify some themes or stories you want to teach and take it from there. You might want to do a cursory internet search and explore what other teachers have shared. Something to take into consideration is making sure the curriculum is not perpetuating stereotypes about Latinos and their different cultures while also making sure that it shows how super diverse the world’s 21 Spanish speaking countries are.

Here are some curriculums shared by other elementary Spanish teachers:

  1. Fayette County WL Curriculum Documents (Señora Speedy’s blog)
  2. Midland Park Public Schools 
  3. Scarsdale Public School

Relationships First!

Something that I really like doing at the beginning of the school year is sharing a short PowerPoint presentation or video about me. I shared where I was born, my likes and dislikes, and I find ways to make connections with students while sharing about me. Students really like knowing something about their teachers and connecting with us as people.

Here are some examples of what I have done in the past to start building relationships:

  1. An idea for the First Day of School (includes a PowerPoint presentation)
  2. A video about me (see below)


I have also used “El estudiante misterioso” with students in second grade and up! Other teachers also do “La estrella del día” – simple activities to help you work on relationships.

Singing to celebrate birthdays is extremely important for some elementary students, especially in the younger grades. If children have summer birthdays, I recommend you do one summer birthday celebration for all the children with summer birthdays early in the school year or, if they would prefer to be special and have a day just to themselves, celebrate half birthdays (just watch out for December vacation …). I like starting each month talking about the calendar to include holidays, special events at school, and birthdays! Luckily this is something that can be done virtually or in the classroom.

There is a part II for this post! There I share about the use of the target language, classroom routines and norms, links to language organizations, and more!

Sending you a lot of love!


You may like these resources available in Teachers Pay Teachers:




Seesaw is one of the most valuable teaching tools I have used during Distance Teaching. I have been using it for over three years, but I’d always limited myself to asking students to retell stories or to send them messages with links they would need during class. I have also used Seesaw as a backup plan for third grade and up when I had a sub that didn’t know Spanish. Seesaw is a wonderful portfolio that allows students to see their progress. It has also been a tool that has replaced paper assessments (Yay for the trees!). So I realized that I really needed to learn more about Seesaw during Distance Teaching. I feel that I now have created a bank of resources that I can use as emergency lessons or reuse if we continue with online teaching.

If you want to learn more about Seesaw, they have been offering different types of professional development (PD) and also have a lot of information on their website. 


These are two activities that I created during Distance Teaching. Feel free to copy them to your library and make the changes you need to make them work for your students. You will need to have access to a premium Seesaw account to make changes to it. If your school is using Seesaw, you likely already have access to it. If you or your school have a free account, you can assign it to your students as is.

The first activity is based on the story “La vaca que decía oink”*** by Bernard Most. I read this story to my kinder and first grade students and used this activity as a way to review key vocabulary.

This second activity is a retelling of the story “La gallinita roja”*** in a much simpler way. Just like the activity above, you can edit it to make it fit the needs of your students.

I hope you and your students enjoy these activities!

***Amazon affiliate links

You may like these resources available in Teachers Pay Teachers:





Last year I came across a great tool called “Wheel Decide” which is a wonderful online tool to create wheels to pick games, songs, volunteers, you name it! I was able to create fun games in class such as “El espejo” (see my post from my presentation at TFLA to learn more about this game), but I always wished I could use pictures instead of words in the Wheel Decide tool.

I didn’t give up and finally found a tool that was mentioned in a blog called “The Techie Teacher” written by Julie Smith. In her blog, she has a simple and easy-to-follow tutorial for using this tool. I think that if you want to understand how the tool works, it’s better to head to her blog and read all about it, rather than me writing something that is already well explained.

If you have explored my blog, you have probably already noticed that I have different posts making reference to mental or brain breaks, yoga poses, and breathing exercises. I always felt that it would be fun to add a wheel to help decide on the different mental breaks to do with my students.

I made this “Wheel of Yoga Poses” graphic as a resource to compliment my yoga story. I hope you can use it in your classes and enjoy the poses – from mono, to perro, to rana and beyond. Click HERE to get the link for the Wheel of Yoga Poses.

Have fun!

You may like these resources on Teachers Pay Teachers:





Zoom burnout  is real! After I completed my 3rd week teaching online, one of the things that made me tired the most was the amount of time I was spending in front of a computer every day. Some of my students were not only attending our Zoom classes but also having to complete assignments afterwards. One of the things I appreciate is when my own kids get assignments from their teachers that invite them to be creative and away from the computer. With that in mind, I wanted to think of ideas children can do at home to a least get them to think in Spanish a bit.

Here are some off-screen activities you can recommend your students do at home. Click HERE to download them all:

  1. Label the rooms in the house.
  2. Classify objects by color
  3. Group objects by number
  4. Play a counting game in Spanish.
  5. Play hopscotch naming things in Spanish. If there is not chalk available, make a small hopscotch on a piece of paper to play with your fingers. Time each person who plays it and see who can do it fastest.
  6. Read a story to your pet or plush toy.
  7. Put greetings on the door, just like many teachers do in their classrooms.
  8. Play a memory game with animal flashcards.
  9. Play a guessing game
  10. Sing a favorite song in Spanish

Have fun!


More resources for teaching Spanish available at Teachers Pay Teachers:



I came up with this #quedateencasa version of the activity “Yo También” that I used with my students. It has been great to use at the beginning of class. If you haven’t used this activity yet, I have written two posts about how to use these images in the classroom.

A Fun Activity to Use After Any Break

A mí también

I adapted this activity to a “Stay at home” version, with daily routines that students can easily do at home due to the current situation. I am currently using Zoom for my online classes. I share the screen and read the phrases to everyone. I scroll through the Zoom windows to see who has their hand up. I ask a few questions about the picture, for example, what type of pizza did you have?, what song did you sing?, who else like that song? and so on. I usually don’t take more than five minutes on this activity.

Are you ready to try it in your classes? Click here to download it!

Have fun!


You might like these resources on Teachers Pay Teachers: