Reflection. I hated Spanish class in high school. It wasn't easy for me, I was late to class, my grades were not spectacular and I remember my teacher being so proud of me the day that I remembered the word 'paloma' because those moments when I shined in class were few and far between.
It didn't click. It just didn't click for me. I felt a disconnect between Spanish 1 and Spanish 3 and I forever felt behind my peers. Thankfully my older sister and parents encouraged me to keep studying because "it would be useful in my future".
1. Thank goodness for my supportive family. What do we do for our students that aren't receiving this message at home? Are we telling them this enough in class? Are we showing them it can be fun? Are we engaging students in meaningful conversation in the target language? Or are we teaching in a way that is easier for the teacher?
2. I was recently told by a former principal- "Don't be afraid of being great. And sometimes that means doing the things we don't want to do". I'm not sure if that is exactly how it went but that is what stuck with me. I'd much rather be lying in bed watching the season 6 finale of El Internado- but instead I just spent extra time organizing, planning and now blogging that I hadn't originally planned on doing tonight. Be great. Be the best you can be. Put in the extra time. I guess that meant I had to continue with Spanish in college...anything else felt like giving up. But I repeat, I HATED Spanish class.
College was well, college. I learned quick that I had to declare a degree, they apparently don't like when you're indecisive like me. I chose Spanish and Education (I HATED SPANISH AT THE TIME)...maybe I could work with kids and use Spanish along the way. Sure.
In my college classes I began to feel much more prepared for class. I felt more confident, engaged and successful. Somewhere along the line "it started clicking". Can we identify what changed? Had I just grown up? Matured? SLA research might suggest the input I was receiving all those years actually was paying off. I just didn't know it or feel like it because my teachers were asking me to perform tasks I wasn't ready to complete. Does that mean I shouldn't have my students speaking? ABSOLUTELY NOT. They need to be speaking, reading, listening and writing...but at the appropriate level with meaningful tasks. ACTFL Core Practices deem that the TL should be used 90% of the time within the classroom but I can tell you first hand it does no good if you're just talking at your kids. Make the language meaningful, comprehensible...and just because you understand what you're saying doesn't mean they do. Thankfully I eventually began falling in love with this beautiful language and cultures. Studying abroad didn't hurt in that regard. :)
I knew I wanted to be great when I started teaching. My cooperating teacher told me I did a great job but they all say that, right? I got my first job right out of college, before I even finished my student-teaching experience. I taught in a small, rural community in Wisconsin and grew my program and loved my students. The past two years I taught in southern Wisconsin and now here I am in my third district in six years.
So now what? Here are some of my successes so far this year- be great and don't be afraid to show it...that's what we want from our students, right?
1. I accepted a .2 overload in a new district.
2. I am fulfilling a new leadership position in the state come January!
3. I surveyed my kids yesterday and 77% of my kiddos say that I use Spanish 91%-100% of the time. Yessssss. And 81.4% of my kids said I make class Quite or Extremely interesting! Double Yesssss.
4. I'm attending ACTFL in a few weeks. I CAN'T WAIT.
5. I've started this freaking awesome blog with an amazing colleague and friend.
“I used to walk down the street like I was a fucking star... I want people to walk around delusional about how great they can be - and then to fight so hard for it every day that the lie becomes the truth.”
― Lady Gaga
So the future. Continue to seek out greatness. Continue to value and treasure teachers that are doing an amazing job and that inspire me every day. Continue to educate, learn and prosper day in and day out. Be the best YOU can be and instill that in my kids. Welcome to The Authentic Spanish Teacher Blog. I hope this didn't get too mushy. Be great.