Back to Spanish Class: 9 Ways to Be a Happier Teacher

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 / 19 comments
No matter what, it is always hard going back to school. I always try to look on the bright side though, and setting goals for the new school year helps. Here are a few ways that have helped me be a happier Spanish teacher. I hope they might inspire you as well.


1. Buy yourself some nice supplies.

Get yourself some flair pens, you deserve them! I get nice supplies for my students too. I always invest in a class set of Astrobright card stock paper, new markers, and colored pencils. Get your materials organized and express expectations that students take good care of the materials, too. I swear students put in more effort and are actually more respectful of materials when they have nice things to work with and take ownership for their use.

2. Set a goal to try something new in class.

Maybe you want to get students speaking more in Spanish, try out IPAs instead of traditional tests or quizzes, or introduce a whole class novel study or Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) into your classes. Maybe you're getting rid of homework this year, flipping the class so all homework is assigned online, or have some new ideas for how to spice up homework. Maybe your goal is something more general like increased collaborative learning, more inquiry style learning, or aligning your lessons to ACTFL practices.

No matter the topic, your goal should be realistic and specific. How exactly will you accomplish it? How will you measure your progress? Write down your goal. Check in with yourself and revise your strategy as needed throughout the year. Take time to reflect on the journey. Nothing is perfect the first time around, but how will we grow if we never try anything new?

3. Build community in your classroom.

Making your classroom a positive, safe space for students is one of the best ways to be a happy teacher. Behavior problems go away and you and your students can really enjoy being with each other. It may seem a little tricky, because every class has such a unique dynamic of different students with their own needs, expectations, and personalities. Here are a few tried and true ways to create good vibes in Spanish class that have worked for me.

4. Observe fellow teachers.

I know it seems like you don't have time to get into another teacher's classroom to observe. But make time. It can be as simple as dropping in for 5 minutes to observe how Mrs. A starts her class or visiting for 10 minutes to observe how Mr. B ends class. This is one of the best ways to learn new ideas and reinforce what you're already doing right (or what you want to change) in your own classroom. Oh, and don't just observe the other foreign language teachers or your teacher friends. Get in a variety of classrooms.

5. Get more involved in extracurriculars.

Taking on a club, coaching, or volunteer position at your school can be such a great way to interact with students in a different way, outside of the classroom. Spanish club always needs a sponsor, right? Or think about starting up a Spanish Honor Society. If you don't have the time or opportunity to do something quite so formal, consider attending more school events like student concerts, performances, athletic events, family evenings, school dances, etc.

6. Play more games in class.

Making my classroom a fun and engaged learning environment is a sure way to make me a happy teacher. So bring on the games! Plus, pedagogically, games can be an amazing way to provide comprehensible input in a way that really engages students. I use modified versions of classic games like Guess Who, Scattergories, and Taboo in Spanish. Or conversation Jenga is always fun. Maybe you get your students outside and play around with sidewalk chalk, prompting them to show their language skills in a way that doesn't require boring paper and pencil. And there are always so many different ways you can play guessing games with Spanish vocabulary, ranging from Pictionary to learning stations to Scoot.

For even more ideas, Sherry and I run a Pinterest board for Spanish games and fun, be sure to check it out, we're always adding more new ideas as we find them.

7. Collaborate more with other Spanish teachers. 

You have great ideas to share. They have great ideas to share. Why not work together to learn and grow? Option 1: Attend your local conferences and workshops and get to know people. These tips for getting the most out of a workshop might help! Option 2: Connect with other teachers online. Not sure where to start? This step by step guide to how to get started collaborating with Spanish teachers on social media might help.

8. Get student feedback and change accordingly.

As teachers we must monitor and adjust! When we are responsive to our students' needs, interests, and abilities, students are better able to succeed and class is more fun. That's the perfect combo for a happy teacher if I've ever heard it. I am a data nerd myself, so always want to know more about where my students are at. I love Holly's discussion of how she uses surveys in her secondary Spanish classes if you're looking to start using these.

9. Eat lunch, please! And while you're at it, go to the bathroom.

Enough said! Take care of yourselves, teachers.



We are in one of the most important professions out there, and deserve to be HAPPY! Thank you for all you do and have a great year!





              


19 comments:

  1. These seem like very basic but are so key to maintaining a happy and healthy state of mind in school! Muchas gracias.

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    1. Exactly! They are so obvious until you are way too stressed out to pull yourself back together. Bookmarking this for myself to read in a few months once we get fully into the semester, gulp. :)

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  2. Thank you for sharing! As teachers, we tend to forget to slow down and take care of ourselves.

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  3. These are awesome! Thanks for sharing! Sometimes we get so stressed out with the little things and forget to reward ourselves. FYI: I buy the flair pens every year! :)

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  4. These are amazing tips! This is my first year as a teacher and we are into our second week. I feel as though I'm already in a rut! I will definitely be using these tips! Thank you!

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    1. First year teachers have a special place in my heart, Gabriela. Wishing you the best this year!

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  5. Sometimes we lose our focus on what we really have to do and it's enjoy what we teach and transfer that to the students. We need them to enjoy what they're learning.

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    1. Excellent point. I remember my first year teaching a student actually asked me if I liked my job. That was a huge eye opener for me. My students didn't care that we were racing through the material to keep up with the other teachers or that I could get all the papers graded on time. They wanted to see that I loved them, was there to help them, and was having fun with them.

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  6. These are all great tips and reminders for all teachers. Thank you for sharing! I have been teaching over 30 years and I am still growing and learning as an educator. I think back to my early years and I could have really used some of this advice, especially the part about treating myself and making time for myself. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was not to try to do everything at once. If you want to make a change, start with one thing. You will be overwhelmed if you try to incorporate every new idea you come across. Have a great year!

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    1. I love your veteran advice to try one new thing at a time, Cyndi. I'm a perfectionist and often overly ambitious, but like you explain, often when I take on too much, I'm left frustrated, disappointed, and overwhelmed. Thank you for sharing!

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  7. The Above are definitely 9ways that I will follow to becoming a Happier Art Educator!! I am determined to Start (and end) this school year with an enthusiastic and stress less mindset!

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    1. They do apply across disciplines, don't they! In a different life I would have LOVED to be an art teacher. Have a great year!

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  8. Thank you for the awesome tips! It's easy to forget the little things like eating lunch or buying a nice planner. If we stay happy, it helps us create a positive environment for the kids. Pura Vida!

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    1. Yes. Happiness seems to be contagious, doesn't it! Have a great school year!

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  9. I love that you mentioned...go to the bathroom! Some days....whew! Your ideas are fantastic! I follow your Pinterest boards too. Thank you so much for all your help, hard work, and support! You are all appreciated! :-)

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    1. The bathroom struggle is real! I'm so glad you follow on Pinterest and thank YOU for your appreciation, it means a lot!

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  10. I just found your blog via Pinterest and I'm already loving it! I live in Brazil and our school year is almost over - only two weeks to go until our summer break! Yay! But I'm already thinking about next year so this list came in really handy. I definitely need to get some more fun into classroom as my students complain about the grammar. It's almost the same as Portuguese grammar and they see that a lot already. So I need to make grammar more fun next year. Will be checking your ideas during the summer break! Thanks in advance!

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