Focusing on YOUR Classroom

A few days ago I read a Facebook post from Martina Bex’s Comprehensible Classroom and it encapsulated a lot of my journey from traditional foreign language education to this CI/TPRS/Novel based instruction mash-up I currently employ.

I want to start by stating how grateful I am to abundance of research, resources and opinions out there. It helped push me off that cliff and into a richer classroom experience. It is not unlike a can of worms, though; everyday I tag more ideas, discover more research and hear about more methodology. The information stream can be endless. That’s exciting—but it could be debilitating.

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Link to Post

Martina ends this post by saying “Be Purposeful”. Utilize what you can for a focused purpose. You have to know the students in front of you and what will work for them. This is a golden-age of CI resources and rather than choose from the flashiest, most talked about, or trendiest topic or resource, I believe it’s important to make decisions based on your individual classroom and students.

I’ll re-emphasize something too: make decisions based on YOUR individual classroom. This year I did a lot of reflection on what’s out there and what my personal strengths are in the classroom. I’ve been more successful when I focus on what the students need AND what I am naturally best suited for as an instructor and classroom leader. Occasionally I felt guilt in the planning process, questioning whether or not I’m implementing the theory, pedagogy or approaches with fidelity the way the experts say.

But (as with most things in life) when you trust yourself, you are going to do it right. I’m glad I took some reflection time this year to really think about what my strengths as a professional educator are and how I can implement new approaches into that in the most effective way possible.

Summertime is usually I time I devout to combing through resources and deciding what to work on for the next school year. As you do the same, I encourage you to trust yourself and celebrate the bright spots of your professional life.

In the next few days I might do a blog post on my “Brightest Spots of the 2017-2018 School Year”.


What It Is I Do

I recently signed my contract to be a Spanish teacher next year.  That’s my official title when people ask me: Spanish teacher.  In simplified terms, that’s what I am.  But what is it that I do?  I just finished my 9th year of teaching and I’ve been doing some thinking about that.  These are the two most popular responses I used to give (and I’m guessing fellow teachers would to):

A: I teach Spanish to my students.

B:  I help students learn Spanish.

And I think I finally realized that these statements are not interchangeable or at all the same.  And somewhere along the line of figuring that out, I got closer to understand what it is I do and want to do.

Statement A

Within this viewpoint, the teacher is the one actively doing something: the teaching.  It’s a teacher centered statement, meaning that my job is based around the things that I do.  I do the instructing, the creating of assessments, the giving out of information.  I give “the learning” to my students.  I do it.  They are there to get it.  And that’s a fine construct, one that higher education and traditional educational settings are set-up for and encourage.

Statement B

Whereas in Statement A the teacher is in the limelight, Statement B shadows the teacher into a supporting “helping” role.  The people actively doing something here are the students.  They are doing and are responsible for the learning part.  They have to do that.  The teacher is there to help and make that happen.  The students are the stars of the classroom and the teacher is there as a coach, as back-up, to provide a path but not to just give information.

Neither of these perspectives is right or problematic and a successful teacher probably needs a mixture of the two, but moving forward, I’d like to say that I’m more Statement B than the other.  It’s a completely personal perspective, built upon your own educational philosophy. (click here for my philosophy).

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