Saturday, October 13, 2018

Homecoming Fun

Last week was homecoming week. Need I say anything else? It was just about as tough as the previous week returning from Fall Break. As one of my students put it, "I guess they are wanting us to have fun." Really? Is that what it's about now, having fun? Could very well be come to think of it. I still have not been observed so the constant stress pervails. My observer said to me that it will be possibly next week or the week after that. So we have been practicing our TEAM lesson plans every day and I'm sure they now have a clue of what I expect them to do on the day we get observed. I will do a few Plickers runs and the new Gimkit KidCollab to get them used to those assessments and I will possibly build them into my plans for the anticipated observation. If only I knew when, but what do you do? The observers don't seem to care that they stress us out with these uncertainties. Last year this went on for about four weeks and I remember about flipping out over the stress. Let's hope that won't happen this time. Life goes on, right?

Monday, October 8, 2018

Back from Fall Break

First Day back after Fall Break was tough. Kids were totally too talkative in my classes. I was informed that I will be having my unannounced observation in a week or two so I must bring the talking under control before then and get them used to the TEAM plans on a daily basis. On the bright side, we did get through all of the components of TEAM today, which was the first attempt this year. The French classes did have to take their family trees home to finish them there, but that part of the lesson went very well. German classes, are not used to extended quiet time for independent work, so that is going to be my focus for the next few days. I put another TEAM plan on the board for tomorrow. We will keep working on family and touch on housing. In the German classes we will work on giving directions to a variety of places here and in Heidelberg. I guess the first day back is tough for anyone so I should not be worried and just keep doing what I am doing. Three weeks from now, this observation will be ancient history...

Friday, August 31, 2018

LangFest in Montreal

Last week I went to LangFest in Montreal. This was certainly an exciting experience for me as a language teacher. It was good to share one's doubts and limitations in the journey of language acquisition. I met some famous language experts there who really changed my outlook on language learning. We need to stop trying to be so perfect. With my considerable knowledge of Spanish I never really had to face that. But now that I am doing French I see my limitations daily and realize how far a journey I am still having to go before feeling comfortable. There are questions that come up I cannot answer in the spur of the moment. What is a language teacher to do? Send them to Google Translate? The best strategy is to learn, learn, learn on my part by watching incessant Netflix movies. This surely worked for me for learning Spanish in the past. Well, one month into my French and German classes I do have a very happy feeling about this school year. Three of the four classes are a pure joy to deal with, one still needs a bit of a behavior adjustment which I will deal with next week. I did realize that I will not have any problems teaching German, my native language, though I haven't spoken it very much in the last 40 years. It's still in my head, not to worry.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Back home from El Camino de Santiago

I hiked El Camino de Santiago earlier in June. Lifechanger. I would highly recommend it to anyone who needs a little bit of a challenge and time to clear their heads from school clutter. What a fun and awesome experience it was. My friend and colleague Nancy and I decided to combine the Camino with the 100th Annual AATSP Conference in Salamanca, making this a three week trip in Spain. I will always cherish the wonderful people we met on the way, a mixture of nations and ages, a United Nations of sorts. I got to use all four of my languages many times in casual and often deeper conversations over the course of the 118 K we covered there. An occasional extra challenge, such as having to cross crazy high bridges as well as one on bolders made it even more interesting. I was surprised at how many Spanish school groups we met up with, and equally surprised that we were able to keep pace with them from one rest stop to another at one point. The varying Spanish landscapes we enjoyed crossing were astounding. At the highest point of the hike, a Roman village, we were invited by a catholic American group to join them to go up to the top and were able to only with their kind assistance. Had we not shown up there at this exact point in time we would have never seen the village and walked right past it. I will never forget the enthralling feeling when entering Santiago de Compostela and posing at the beautiful sign entering the city. What an awesome experience.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

School's out for the summer

So I am no longer a Spanish teacher at my school. I had a lot of fun messing with people telling them this yesterday. I was assigned to teach French and German next school year and it's such a wonderful shot in the arm to plan for that. I already am filling my new Google Classrooms with all sorts of good resources for next year and wrote up brand new syllabi. After so many years of Spanish, 27 more or less, there I have to retrieve the French and German out of my brain. It's great mental exercise. Luckily I am headed to Montreal in late August to boost my French a bit at the LangFest, which undoubtedly will be a blast. All packed for Spain to hike El Camino de Santiago and to attend the 100th AATSP in Salamanca, all I can do now it to relax a litte. Tomorrow I will spend some time with my awesome grandson. Let's see if he's up for a game of checkers.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day

On this beautiful Mother's Day I thought I should reflect on the last stretch of school this year. After all, we are mothers to many of our students. We actually have more consistent contact with our students than their natural parents a lot of times, sad or strange as that may sound. Students reach out to us in a variety of ways. Sometimes they just blurt out their needs, and often their calls for help could manifest themselves in terms or odd or inappropriate behaviors. I am always keenly aware of such calls for help with my students. Earlier this semester one of my students was apparently abandoned by his mother who went off to Arizona for several days, stranding him in town with no particular place to stay at, nor with food or clothing for that matter. I was happy that our guidance department was able to assist in this case upon my gentle suggestions for help. So school is once again coming to an end this year. I have one week plus two days remaining- 32 years of teaching, with 17 in my county. I need a break from this and I will get just that with our upcoming hike of the Camino de Santiago in Spain, the French Way as they call it. This morning I actually packed most of the stuff just to see if it would fit in my carry on and backpack. I think I will be fine, just have to figure out what to wear for the AATSP conference that follows the hike. One of my daughters suggested to get a plain black skirt with four different tops. That could work. Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Last Day for Seniors (before exams)

Today was the last day for seniors, well, they still have to take semester exams. So another year is done. This was my 32nd year of high school teaching. This was a learning experience for me as much as for the students as I shared with my students many different new teaching strategies and tools for language learning. It's funny, I really never do the same thing from one year to the next. My students recorded videos on Flipgrid a few days ago to give the new classes advice on how to succeed in Spanish class. They practically all recommended they get a new phone since they will be doing so much work on apps. We did use apps for Classcraft, Metaverse, Google Classroom, Flipgrid, GooseChase and a few more. But I told them you never know what I will come up with next school year. After attending the AATSP conference in Salamanca, Spain this summer there's no telling what I will do. Teaching is such an exciting and ever evolving profession. It's truly incredible if you think about it. What a time to be a teacher! I really liked the station system we tried on Cinco de Mayo and the Hotel chapter. It was so much fun to have the groups come up to me and check into the Valle Youth Hostel. The one on one conversations helped a lot. And the students loved the rotations since they got to move around and do a variety of different tasks. So I will definitely do stations at least once every chapter. We will also keep playing Classcraft as it is the best classroom management system imaginable. And Gimkit, best game out there to motivate students to learn vocabulary, will stay with us. Of course, Google Classroom is the best way to keep it all together. So I will definitely keep using it with my upcoming classes. Other than that, I am wide open to new and better things in the world of language education. Bring it on!