I hate failing. I hate making mistakes. I hate it!
But that is just what I did. I made some pretty big mistakes this first grading period of the school year, and I will let you guess why my blog post art is what it is today. Yeah, you know what they say about assuming... but that was my mistake. I assumed my regular level 2 students could handle tasks that, upon reflection, might not have been too hard, but were not things they were ready for because the the vocabulary and language chunks they needed to use as context were not at the forefront of their minds. The problem wasn't the tasks I wanted my students to perform, but that they had forgotten how to be language students over the summer, and I forgot to retrain them how to be language students. I just took a great big dive in! As you can imagine I was surrounded by a room full of regular, non-honors students in level 2 who were staring at me with the most blank expressions all the way to the extreme "deer in headlights" look. All of this was totally my fault.
What happened was my mind was still wrapped up in what my level 2's from last year could do by the end of the year paired with the lessons and activities I wrote for the curriculum this summer. My mind was WAY further down the road than theirs. My students entered my classroom and after a couple days of team building I started target language teaching. I forgot some really important rules to transitioning into target language instruction from their point of view.
1. Most of my students rebooted their brains over the summer and never thought about Spanish class or how to survive it (and we all know that is what a true level 2 student feels about our class).
2. I did a poor job of building a safety net for them in the language (lowering affective filter, building some trust in the language, etc.) before moving into new material.
3. I forgot to establish personalized context before launching the content of the unit.
4. I wasn't deliberate about training them or reminding them of their training on how to function in a TL class. I forgot to remind them about the things we do in class, why we do them and how they can let me know they are okay and understanding well.
5. I didn't do an adequate job of re-activating their prior learning.
Gosh, writing this all out makes me sound like a disaster of a teacher. I feel so bad, and even more, I am embarrassed to confess this to you. I think I got caught up in so many other things (for one, being at a new school and all that implies) that I took my students, the on level, regular level 2 students, totally for granted.
I guess my takeaway from this situation is that there should be some time at the beginning of each new year during which I block out all distractions like bulletin boards needing covering and copies needing copying to focus on the transition into target language. I need to sketch out what my students need to be reminded of, and I need to plan opportunities for them to practice those things with easier, more familiar content before asking them to function in those ways with new content. I need to deliberately think about and maybe make a list of these things and tattoo it on my inner arm. Well, that might be a little extreme and might not make a very attractive tattoo.
Happy Coaching from the coach who failed!
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