It was a great year in Wildcat Spanish. There were trying days but after a pretty rough 17-18, this school year was a piece of cake. As I enjoy my first day of summer break with a second cup of coffee, my bird feeders, and two (exhausted from a dog park visit) dogs, I am also reflecting on my year. I’ve found that if I completely shut down after I leave school, the urgency disappears and I forget to take the time to reflect on the highs and lows. If I don’t reflect on the highs and lows, I find myself re-making the same mistakes in the new school year!
I just finished listening to “Girl Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis. I loved this book. There are things I don’t necessarily agree with (I am pretty sure only those in privileged positions can chase their dreams the way Rachel has) but there are also things that really, really hit home for me. One of them: Why do you break promises to yourself? Rachel talked about how we always say we are going to do things and then when it comes down to it, we cancel on our own plans again and again. “I’m going to save up to go to ACTFL”, “I’m going to try X in class this year”, “I am going to invite a colleague in to observe and coach me”… what promises have you made yourself this year that you just let fall by the wayside as the year got busy and you ran out of time? Rachel asks what we would think if it were a friend or loved one doing that to us… What if it was your a loved one saying “I’m going to fix X at home this year”, or “I am going to invite you over for a barbecue”, or “I’m going to save up to come see you” and then kept breaking the promises again and again?? You would lose trust in that person!
As I commit to some promises to myself, I’ve made a list on a “stickie” on my computer screen. These are things I want to do differently in the new school year that require me to plan and prepare over the summer. Before I get into vacation mode and stop thinking of them, I wanted to write down these promises to myself right now, while the iron is still hot! I even gave myself some timelines to follow so it doesn’t all pile up in August!
Things that went well:
There were great moments this year. Some days I was SO proud of what they said and other days, Spanish 2 came in saying “This is so dumb.” The great thing about students is that they keep you humble as heck. Just when you think you’ve found the perfect resource to engage every child in the room, one will look at you and say “I didn’t take Spanish 3 because I hate everything we do in this class.” *Sigh*
Some things I plan to improve for next year:
I feel really solid on my level 3/4 units and readers but I feel like I need more engaging content in level 2. I would love to have some units that I love as much as Mar de plástico and Basura cero but I am SO BAD at reigning in the level to keep it strictly novice. When we do the Homes of the World unit, they always love it. One of my goals this summer is to do a unit on travel that will be specifically for these guys (plus a version that I use with my 4s) and a unit on green energy that will be the first little intro into the environment for my level 2s. These are both on my promises list so I have to make them happen. I don’t want to end next year feeling like I still didn’t even make a forward step in bringing the SDGs to the novices!
I feel solid in my ability to find songs my students will like but I feel very weak in using songs to their maximum potential. My friend Kara Jacobs is sooooo good at this… me, not so much. I frequently fall back on the standard Cloze. This is not engaging. Kids complete it then never look at the lyrics again. They download the songs and listen outside of class but I am not sure they are GETTING anything from it. So I am going to try to work with songs in better ways. I’m starting with En guerra by Sebastián Yatra. My goal is to have this unit ready for launch with my level 4s in August. I want to use it to talk about body image and about negative self talk. (I think Rachel Hollis would approve. We need to give ourselves a lot of grace!)
Finally, I feel solid in my ability to build community in the classroom but I want to do a better job of taking that community OUTSIDE the classroom again. When I was teaching in my old school, our giving project “The Classroom without Walls” raised thousands of dollars every year to support different organizations at home and abroad. Since I started in my new school I have not. done. even. one. WHAT? Why have I let this slide? I have actually even PROMISED students that we’d do a fundraiser for an organization and then my busy life flew by and I didn’t get it done. In reflection, this is embarrassing to me. I made a promise to them and didn’t keep it. Next year, we get back on track. We will support local groups and international groups as we extend our lessons beyond the walls of the classroom.
Thank you for reading. I consider it a little extra accountability to tell YOU that I am going to do these things over the summer. (Blogging once a week – minus the three weeks I’m traveling- is also on the promise list.) I encourage you to take a moment in the first few days of your vacation and really consider your year. What better time to make yourself promises than when the emotions are still raw and powerful!? Have a great summer, relax, enjoy, and get ready for that awesome feeling of stepping into the new year in August 100% ready to go at it again!