The last two weeks of school are INSANE! The first week I worked over 75 hours and I clocked more than 80 my last week. Exhausting….We had exams, 7th grade girls sleep over, two award shows, field day, locker/classroom clean out, exam review, professional development, end of the year meetings, faculty awards and luncheons, and so much more. My classroom looks like a disaster area. Literally.
One thing I did FANTASTICALLY well this year, was keeping student’s pre-tests organized and in a safe place (which is a real feat for me). I graded student’s exams based on growth this year. I wrote an entire blog about these exams, which you can read here, and now I can talk about just how INCREDIBLE their growth was. EVERY, single student received 100% on their in-class exam based purely on growth. When students returned to my class for exam review, I gave them a cover page that looked like this, and their exam, followed by their pre-test (taken the first two days of school), and finally their review packet (which made up 50% of their final exam grade). I walked students through looking at their pre-test and then their final exam. Student’s jaws dropped. They simply couldn’t believe how they had grown in one year! Students who had never had Spanish prior to my classes, wrote a few random words (usually colors) on their pre-test for writing, and at the end of the year, they wrote 2 page stories using present and past tenses and a HUGE variety of vocabulary. It was so impressive. I told them they gave me goosebumps. A few students hugged me so hard I thought my eyes were going to pop out. Their sense of pride was overwhelming. I KNOW that this means next year, they will be even more confident and willing to take risks than they were this year!!!
Students are supposed to test in my exam room for 90 minutes. Since most finish mine in 45-55 minutes I filled the time with two different things. First, I provide students with an extra credit section on their exam. I tell them to doodle something that will make me smile or laugh as I am grading my 100 exams. These are some of my favorites, though all were incredible…
The other thing I do is give students a survey with questions about my teaching and our classroom environment. This is COMPLETELY anonymous which helps the students to answer honestly and without concern about hurting my feelings or being singled out. The first 20 questions were all on a scale from 1-5 (one being NEVER, and 5 being ALWAYS) and they were statements like: “My teacher listens to me” “My teacher knows when the class doesn’t understand” “My teacher believes in me and always expects my best effort”. I love this first part because I did find that there were similarities amongst student answers in certain classes. For example, in the class I felt was most advanced, most all the students gave me a 3 on “My teacher knows when the class doesn’t understand”… I know I do less comprehension checks in that class, next year I will know better. 🙂 The last part of this survey consists of three short answer questions. I have posted these below along with some of my favorite answers. I have also posted some basic reflections of mine.
1. What is your favorite thing to do in Spanish class? (Outside of reward fiestas for puntos)
- “PQA because I like how we can just speak freely and how everyone is just having a good time and speaking in Spanish”
- Non-targeted input has clearly been as awesome for them, as it has for me! 🙂
- “I really like the dichos because it relates to our slang”
- I would love for students to find some of these FOR me next year.
- “I really like Mafia the best”
- ME TOO! About half of my students included Mafia in their answer for #1. While I don’t want it to become “old” maybe we will do a Mafia Martes (Mafia Tuesday). (We can at least play one of my variations every Martes)
- “Movie talk is my favorite because Maestra picks the best movies. It also teaches us valuable lessons”
- MovieTalks were also a common answer. I loved that this young man recognized I always tried to pick movies that had deeper morals behind them!
- “I really like that we can just get you off task and talk about random stuff in Spanish for the whole class”
- YAY! They think it’s “me off task” … tehe! That IS the plan! #nontargetedci
- “I love learning about the legends!”
- I loved teaching them! I have already started prepping for another three when we get back!
- “I really like the stories. Maestra has the best stories”
- I wish I knew if this student is talking about my random “non-targeted” life stories or stories that I create using student input. Either way it is a nice compliment.
- “My favorite thing to do in Spanish class is the Brain Breaks because they get me excited and ready for the rest of the day and they also are super fun and funny”
- WAHOO! That is an easy thing to continue! They take no time at all!
- “I like Q and A because it is funny to learn about each other and it is funny to hear about Maestra’s traumatizing stories related to what we are talking about”
- I love integrating personal story telling into my classes…. Though this makes me want to break out and sing “Schadenfreude” from Avenue Q…. (theatre reference)
- “I think that our class is successful because we are all at different levels of Spanish speaking abilities and we all support each other and can learn from each other”
- This respect and support of each other has to be fostered, encouraged and explicitly taught ALL year, not just at the beginning! 🙂
- “I personally think that you make us work. You make everyone want to get along and participate”
- Passion is important. They notice my excitement and passion and they participate with a passion to match mine
2. What do you wish we could have done more of or what do you want to do more of next year? (What would make Maestra’s classes even more AWESOME?)
- “I really want to learn about more of those Spanish legends like the “chupacabra“”
- More evidence of student enthusiasm and excitement for myths and legends. Must.Do.MORE!
- “I want to learn more about the food because there are so many people who think they know Spanish foods and they really don’t actually. They think they eat tacos, enchiladas, and etc. Those are just the stereotypes.” LOL
- Last year, my personal goal for my classes was to incorporate more culture. While I excelled at that this year, I didn’t talk much at all about food which is interesting seeing as I am so obsessed!! Maybe I will find ways to work it into our beloved fiestas when students earn points!!!
- “I want to learn more about current events in Central America because I am curious about how people in other countries are living”
- Again, I was great with Culture, but didn’t do enough current events. Next year!
- “More PQA because it is so laid back and we just get to talk and listen to Spanish and learn lots of funny things about each other”
- We did non-targeted CI and PQA every day! The fact that this student just wants it more is SO reassuring!
3. What do you think is the number one reason you were so successful in Spanish this year?
- “You make us a lot more responsible, like how more of us listen better than some classes”
- Students hold themselves accountable with their self-assessment rubrics. I felt like I could have recorded these grades for participation more frequently.
- “We look at you, and we always respond when you ask us questions”
- “You are so nice to your students, and know how to have fun while you teach and that makes students want to participate!!!!”
- If WE are not having fun, THEY are not having fun. Language acquisition is CAKE if everyone is having fun!
- “Brain Breaks because they are fun and take off stress”
- I think that Brain Breaks are absolutely a key to success in the language classroom! I love that my students see that too!
- “You get us all super excited and make us happy and ready for the day.”
- I didn’t know that my joy for teaching my students extended to their time after they left my class, but I love that!
- “I think this class is so successful because Maestra makes us feel comfortable with making mistakes and asking questions. I think that Maestra always tries to understand the stress we are going through and tries to make this class better and easier for us to learn than our other classes”
- Making mistakes is PART of the language acquisition experience. I remind students all the time that when babies start to speak they make TONS of mistakes and it is only through more INPUT that they learn to correct those!
- “I think we know how to listen well and are smart enough to pick up things very quickly”
- Listening is key! Students know that through listening, they will be able to communicate! I am so proud that they recognize this!
- “You make sure everyone gets along and also everyone knows Spanish so it makes it so we can just stay in Spanish the whole class”
- The fact that this was written by a student who has only had ONE year of Spanish (only my class) and at the beginning of the year told me that he would never be able to speak Spanish, just warms my heart. I love that he says “Everyone knows Spanish”… how special is this!?
As a final reflection, I would like to thank all of YOU for reading, questioning, and emailing throughout this year! Your support and enthusiasm makes me a much better teacher! It has been less than a year since I started this blog and I have just hit over 65,000 views! I could faint! I love you all so much!
See you this summer!
La Maestra Loca