This week I headed back to my classroom to start the process of reorganizing things, re-hanging posters, re-configuring my syllabus, and getting lost in the "re" to do list that all teachers make for themselves over the summer.
This is year is going to be different. I am not going to kill myself to re-do things that work already or find a way to incorporate lots of new things. Nope, not going to do it.
The other day I briefly visited my classroom and made a quick list of basic chores that need to be done just to get things ready for the first week of school. A poster was laying lifeless on the floor, desks were stacked to the ceiling, etc. Little things were everywhere waiting to be done. In that moment I realized that I didn't want to waste precious time moving furniture or creating a new participation system. What is important to me this year is simple, yet profound: Fundamentals.
You see, it was only a couple of years ago that my family and I uprooted ourselves from the Houston area and headed to Dallas to close the gap between us and ALL of our family. In doing so I started a new leg of my career in a district who pioneered proficiency based language learning in our state. When I got here I thought I knew what I was doing, but soon found out there was so much more to the PB instructional model than just having kids talk now and then. After a tear-filled pity party meltdown during which I was beating myself up for not being an expert at something that was almost entirely new to me, I scraped myself out of the bed and readjusted my sails. I abandoned EVERYTHING I had ever known to do as a language teacher and committed myself to give the new system a sincere, wholehearted effort. It was game changing! Up until that point I knew I BELIEVED in PB language learning, but I didn't know that I didn't know HOW to make it happen in my classroom.
So, I am two years into this program and I just don't feel like it is time for a lot of NEW. There is only time for pressing in and moving forward. This year's list of resolutions is short and simple. Here it is...
Amy's New (School) Year's Resolutions!!
1. Love my students no matter who they are or what their baggage is.
2. Use the language even more than before.
3. Deepen my learning. Know where these methods come from and why they work.
3. Work to perfect what I have learned.
I have decided that it just doesn't make sense to do more than that until I fully and deeply understand what I have subscribed to. I don't want to just teach this way. I want to LeBron this stuff. I want to have arsenal of strategies and be the master of as many as I can. I want to be the best I can be at target language teaching. This year it is all about perfecting the formula, not adding new ingredients. In fact, i think I am actually taking even more OUT of what I have done in the past. For example...
This year I am NOT...
- Requiring a student notebook
- Spending a ton of time on classroom procedures
- Grading as much
- Having kids fill out forms I never make time to read
- Remodeling my classroom
- Introducing anything to my students that I am not 100% sure I can commit to myself
- Handing out bunches and bunches of papers the first week
- Adopting new procedures just because they seem cool
- Going to be the technology Nazi
- Use any technology for the sake of technology
- Use any technology unless I am confident about its fit into my instructional plan
And these are the things I can think of right now. This list could change by the time the first day arrives. This year these are the questions that will frame every decision I make:
- How will this impact my relationships with my students and/or their relationships to each other?
- How will this impact the atmosphere in my classroom?
- How will this impact learning in my classroom?
Relationships > Atmosphere > Learning
Happy Coaching, Friends!
Happy BTS to you all!