Confessions of a reformed (accidentally bad) teacher…

I went to get some milk tonight and ran into a former student.  He’s probably 22 now and had a hard time in high school.  He struggled with English so Old Me was shocked that he would sign up for Spanish… Didn’t he read the pre-requisites?  You must have a C or better in English to come here!  This is a class for 4%ers!!!  He was lost in the mountain of textbook vocabulary and grammar structures and he failed.  I just assumed that it was because some kids just weren’t cut out for language class… Oh Old Me!   I wish I could go back and fix all of those kids who You let slip through!!!

The last four years I have had kids with all sorts of English grades, IEPs, opposites of 4%ers…. Man do some of them love to learn Spanish.  Of course, spelling issues in English carry over into the target language but after spending a year with me, these kids know WAY more Spanish than they would if they didn’t get the chance to take the class… AND they enjoy it… Dare I say some even love it!

How do I get over the guilty feelings for not making language lovers during those first 13 years in the classroom????  Class was fun (in a textbooky way) and interesting (in an verb conjugating game sort of way) but few kids just loved it… fewer appreciated the culture and the people who speak Spanish.  If only those old me students could meet New Me!!!  Wouldn’t they be surprised???  Maybe I should plan a reunion… with a sneak attack of CI?

Author: senoracmt

I began teaching Spanish in Illinois in 1994. I have taught levels 1-4 in a small rural high school, 8th grade introductory Spanish, Biology 1, and 101 and 102 at the community college level. My Spanish classes are partnered with the community college to offer students 8 semester hours of dual credit on completion of Spanish 4. In 2011 I met Carol Gaab and Kristy Placido and have since co-authored the book "La hija del sastre" with Carol Gaab and authored the novels "La Calaca Alegre", "Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos." "Vector," "48 horas" and "Bananas" through Fluency Matters. In 2006 I became National Board certified and I have been serving as a mentor both for candidates seeking certification in world languages other than English and a virtual mentor for candidates in all certificate areas. I completed my Masters degree in Spanish education in 2011 and did my research on the use of Understanding by Design to create meaningful cultural units for the language classroom. I am a frequent presenter on this topic, please consider me if you are interested in a workshop on backward design. In 2013 I was named the ICTFL Foreign Language teacher of the year and in 2014 I was selected as CSCTFL's teacher of the year. In November of 2014 I was lucky enough to be one of the five finalists for the ACTFL National Teacher of the Year in San Antonio, TX. What a "Cinderella" experience! You can reach me via email at senoracmt at

2 thoughts

  1. I am devouring your site Carrie, thank you for sharing your resources and eexperiences online…

    Elaine Tolvo
    will start blogging my new experiences from Spanish teaching to ESOL soon!

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