Tuesday, I had the opportunity to lead another live Webinar with Carol Gaab and Fluency Matters. It was AWESOME (even though I will openly admit that I was in comfy PJ pants (and a cute fancy professional top) IN my bed because I had been home sick ALL day. I spoke about ALLLLL of the pieces I use to create a PERFECT classroom management package in my room….. There are 11 in total….
One piece is not more important than the other. Slowly, but surely, I am blogging about each piece here. I have already written about the POINT system I use, and I explained a second piece which is INFLECTION and VOICE, and now I am going to talk about ANOTHER few pieces to the puzzle, and those are Passion, Enthusiasm, and LOVE.
Now let me preface with this: Classroom management looks VERY different in EVERY classroom and with EVERY teacher. I started this blog to give people who are interested a window into MY classroom and what happens inside of it. My point system has in some teachers words “literally saved [their] life” and others have said that it totally bombed for them and failed. If you are interested in what you read here and want to experiment with it in your room and with your babies, GREAT! and if not, that is also GREAT! Everyone is entitled to an opinion and our classrooms SHOULD all look different because our students all need VERY different things because each of them are incredibly unique and different. Having said that, I DO believe these three “pieces” of my management system can apply in almost every classroom across all contents.
Many of us may think that Passion, Enthusiasm, and Love are givens and happen naturally when teaching. I think it is important to talk about what they LOOK like in a classroom and revisit them every so often to remind ourselves WHY we do what we do.
YES, this is the cheesiest blog I’ve ever written. It is also one of my favorites.
Why did you become a teacher? What attracted you into the profession? Was it the LOVE of your content? Was it the love of children? Or, perhaps, was it your desire to impart your knowledge and share it with others? Whatever the reason, remember that, write it down on a sticky note, and frame it. Grey’s Anatomy style….Then hang that up above your desk. I am serious… Do it…
Reconnecting to WHY we became teachers is a GREAT way to integrate more PASSION into our teaching. You can read about MY path to becoming an educator in my blog about Dominos. I have a DOMINO in a prominent place on my desk. It reminds me EVERY day to teach with passion. I want my students to see that I am passionate about the Spanish language. I want them to feel that I am passionate for travel and cultures around the world. As their foreign language teacher, I have a responsibility to introduce them, and expose them to cultures, traditions, languages, and people from all OVER the world. NOT just the Spanish speaking world. I want my students to become multilingual, global citizens, who value and appreciate languages and culture. I want them to SHARE in my passion for languages and culture. Before they can share in that, they have to sense it from me. They have to see it every day. They have to hear it every day.
Enthusiasm is NOT energy. People who observe me and have no preface or exposure to CI or TPRS outside of seeing my class for the first time, OFTEN say, “oh, I can’t do that. I have to drink 20 coffees before I have that amount of energy”. You don’t need to have endless amounts of energy to be a successful CI teacher (Below, I will discuss 3 incredible NON-BOUNCY INSANE teachers and how they model enthusiasm) Ok…. Sometimes my energy is over the top but it is JUST BECAUSE I GET SO EXCITED ABOUT EVERY DAY AND ALL OF THE INCREDIBLE THINGS WE ARE DOING WITH LANGUAGE!!!! I am enthusiastic about the comprehensible input I am providing to my kids! Your STUDENTS will be enthusiastic IF your input is comprehensible and COMPELLING. This piece is SO essential. My input needs to be INTERESTING and APPLICABLE to their reality and their lives. We have our work cut out for us too! In this day and age, to be ENGAGING as a story teller and as a PERSON and not a screen or technology device, we have to be REALLY interesting…. REALLY compelling. My enthusiasm for the compelling input that we are reading/creating together in class manifests itself in my bouncy, energetic nature! Craig Dehning, my poker buddy, twin, and “besty” at Skinner Middle School in Denver, used to tease me because I always say “OH EMMMMM GEEEEE!!! This is the BEST THING EVER!” but I say it about everything. That isn’t me being fake… that is me really thinking that EVERYTHING we are doing in the classroom is the “BEST THING EVER!” Literally!!!! 😉
Some of the most amazing CI teachers I know are JUST as enthusiastic and passionate as me, but their classrooms sound and look VERY different to mine! The thing that we all have in common is our METHOD… Comprehensible COMPELLING INPUT!
Jenny Wetzig teaches Spanish at East High School in Denver. She and I went through Grad school together and for a year and a half spent almost every minute of every day together trying to grapple with this CRAZY methodology (and trying to fit it into the demands of our education program). The entire year and a half she begged me to go to YOGA with her. Jenny is one of the most centered, calming people I have ever met. I love listening to her speak, especially when I am stressed. She is AMAZING to watch teach! She puts so much HEART into every single lesson. You have never seen anyone plan like Jenny. She teaches lots of higher level classes (still using CI) and loves bringing current events to life for her students. She shows students every day how to use the Spanish they know, to communicate and discuss what is happening daily in the world around us. Her student’s language ability soars in her classroom. She raises the bar for “high expectations” higher than any teacher I have ever met, and her students CONSTANTLY meet those expectations. Does she bounce off the walls? NO! However, I can tell you that her students hang on her every word because they can feel her enthusiasm and know that she is passionate about what she teaches them.
Mary Overton was my amazing partner in crime for two and a half years. We were the Foreign Language department at Skinner Middle School. Mary still teaches Spanish as a Second Language and Heritage Spanish at Skinner. When we used to present together at CCFLT, people said we were a perfect Ying and Yang. We balanced each other out. Mary is an incredibly enthusiastic educator. She is enthusiastic every day in her classroom as she effortlessly (OK… it is NOT effortless but she makes it look that way) integrates culture into every CI lesson for her students. She was the first person I had ever seen confidently do a “culture” day IN the Target Language. Isn’t that what we should be doing though!? Speaking about culture IN the TL?! Why not! Mary does this so well. Her enthusiasm for cultures and people that she has experienced in her travels is infectious and her students are SO fortunate to be in her classes. They love hearing about her experiences and they love her enthusiasm! Does she bounce of the walls?! NO! (Actually, I have seen it before when she gets SUPER excited!) She is SO engaging because of her visible and audible enthusiasm for the traditions, food, dances, music and cultures she is teaching her students daily!
Paul Kirschling my dear Pablo…. Paul is magical. Watching him teach is MAGIC….. He is a Master…. Paul teaches French at East High School in Denver. Paul has been teaching CI for a LONG time. He walks around his room and commands attention and in my opinion, his enthusiasm is in his VOICE. He doesn’t use his voice the same way I use mine. He is calm…. steady…. and quiet….. His students hang on his every word. He has an FVR process that blows MINDS. Mary has taken it and changed some things to make it her own. I am going to ask one of them to do a guest post for me some time soon to explain it! French teachers (ANY teachers) who want to see an incredible example of CI who is completely opposite to me personality wise? Go see Paul.
If you are in Denver, or ever within driving distance? Look these people up! You won’t regret it… Promise….
I love my students. Every one of them. I tell them that. Every day. You don’t have to, I know lots of people who don’t ever say the “L” word to their students. That doesn’t mean you don’t love them and that they don’t KNOW that you do. Our students know when you truly care about them. When you have a genuine interest in them as people outside of your classroom walls. This is important! If students feel you are invested in them as human beings, they are far more likely to invest their time and attention in YOU as their teacher! My students know I love and respect them and they love and respect me in return. This is NOT always easy. This is important to keep in mind wherever you work. I work in a small independent school now and it is invaluable. When I worked in Denver Public Schools, I actually found that it was even MORE important. It took a solid 2-3 months of working at George Washington High School with Joe Dziedzic and Nina Barber before my students bought in and saw that I really did care about them. Once they did though, management was WAY easier, because they had SO much more respect for me. I have students from Skinner still email me to tell me how they are doing. Some send letters, telling me about their current successes and to recall memories from funny moments in class. I had a student named Nicky at Skinner who actually spoke to teachers to coordinate SURPRISING me at my Masters graduation ceremony in 2014. He said “I wanted to see you walk across that stage because I am going to do that one day Maestra!”. He is going to be the first in his family to graduate college. ( He also knew I didn’t have any family or friends there to attend so he wanted to support me. What a kid huh!?) He posted this on my Facebook wall for my birthday this year (the picture is when he found me at graduation) . Melts my heart….
PASSION, ENTHUSIASM, and LOVE…..
So there you have it! Three more pieces to how I manage my classroom! 🙂
Until next time,
La Maestra Loca