This is my favorite night of winter break… The whole vacation is ahead of me, time hasn’t started flying by, I can just pause a minute and reflect on the good and the bad of semester 1 before I unplug my mind from school for 13 days.
Trust me when I say that I realize I am VERY privileged. At my school, we have the best administration you could ask for and I work in a department with like minded colleagues. I teach in a rural district with kids who are generally motivated intrinsically. It isn’t the same for everyone and I want to recognize that before I begin.
First, the bad:
- I was struggling in August. I run Somewhere to Share full time as well. After two really hard years, I was having trouble convincing myself that I could continue pulling double duty for 6 more years. If this year were like the past two, I probably couldn’t have. I had to DRAG myself to school the first week.
- I did not find a good way to work with my difficult class. I have had difficult classes in the past that responded well to more manipulative activities, more comprehension based games, etc… but this semester, they spent a lot of time tuned out. I feel like they did not acquire language like previous groups have. I need to figure out how to tune them in.
- I did not incorporate enough music. In many years, we have studied 10-12 songs by this time. We are WAY behind. I don’t know why I didn’t make it a priority. Maybe because when I brought back SSR, I lost balance in my planning. I’d like to do better at including BOTH next semester.
- Covid isn’t gone… and now it’s brought friends to the party. Everyone is sick. They’re not sick for a day or two. They’re sick for 4 days at a time. This makes it hard when a class is centered around in class activities! I felt like kids were missing half a unit of content and there really wasn’t a good way to disseminate the information to them.
- I’ve been terrible at time management. I have to be worried about school, about family, about grading, and about Somewhere to Share… and I think my family is getting shorted time.
- Units that I thought would be engaging needed a lot of tweaking to get my quiet class to participate, the same units didn’t keep my loudest class from being loud… Sigh.
Now the good:
- We were able to do a LOT of units in semester 1. They learned a ton about the environment, the planet, and their role as a global citizen. That made me really happy. I missed class moving at the pre-2020 pace.
- Who knew that they’d be so into a unit on sustainable agriculture?? Spanish 4 blew me away with their farms at the end of the unit.
- We read two readers as a class at level 2, 3, and 4 and over 130 readers in SSR. That’s a lot of great input! I feel like reading was back on par with pre-2020 levels!
- That tough class is the first one to tell me they missed me if I am gone. They may be tuned out some days, but they are like my own kids… they are sweet when they want to be.
- Huellas 1 and 2 are completely finished and they are being used in about a thousand schools. It is so much fun to see the units we’re studying in my classroom through the lens of other classrooms across the US and Canada.
- In semester 2, my class groupings shake up so that a lot of the quiet class is moving to afternoon and a lot of the loud class is moving to morning… so MAYBE the loud class will be a little sleepier and will keep participating (but not so loudly) and the quiet group will be awake and will participate more!? It’s possible, right?
- We did a lot of comprehension games this fall and it made the class periods go fast, the days go fast, and even made this semester go fast!
I have had SO much better year this year than last. I will not dread going back in January. (Although I will hate having to turn the alarm back on.)
Here’s to enjoying the 13 days off and going back ready to end the year strong. I was wishing away these six years, but now that I am realizing it’s already only 5.5… I am holding on a little tighter. I get my mojo from the kids. I know I will miss them when I do leave! I hope your semester has been uplifting for you as well.
Thanks for your reflections, Carrie! I can relate to so much of what you’ve shared here, both the good and the bad (I have one of the toughest Level 1 classes EVER!). But one of the best things about this school year has been discovering Huellas! My IB 12 class finished the unit on “La música orginaria” just before Winter Break and I was amazed at my students’ final assessments, both oral and written. We all learned so much from the unit, not just in terms of the compelling content, but also through the diverse array of activities you designed to get students thinking and communicating authentically on the topic. Thank you for everything! I wish you the Happiest of Holidays and look forward to more from Somewhere to Share in 2023 🙂
Thanks for being vulnerable. I can relate to this post – and it encourages me that even a teacher with way more experience can struggle. I too have barely done music and my timing has been off, to where these last units feel crunched and rushed (currently doing Vector in 4 and have had to skip many great activities). Both my intermediate classes (level 3 & 4) seem so behind other years and I have struggled to know what to do for them. I was going to be committed to backwards planning (after I took a session with you) and I got too busy to do that effectively, I have to regroup, especially for these students who are behind.
On a positive note, I have built great relationships this year with especially my new students in level 1 and maintained them with my 2s. They are eager learners. I have introduced some new curriculum into level 2 to help with some gaps I am seeing in 3 & 4. We don’t use Huellas exclusively but they are fun units that they enjoy when we can use them. We loved the art unit prior to Frida and Bella y la Bestia was a great unit to give us a break.
Sending you teacher love for a great 2nd semester. Thanks for not just teaching your students – but us too. Merry Christmas!