6.12.2018

Let's Make Next Year BETTER

Have you started reflecting on this past school year as it winds down, or are you not ready yet? Was it #bestever, #worstever, or somewhere in between?




Set aside some time this summer (the sooner the better - while the year is still fresh in your mind) for some serious reflection. What went well? What didn't go so well? Be honest and don't beat yourself up - the perfect teacher does not exist.

First of all, if you are a first year teacher then please give yourself a round of applause. The first year is hhhaaarrrddd. For everyone.

In fact, if you want to take a minute to celebrate getting through your first year, please do. I'll wait.


via GIPHY

Reflection Time

Think about allllllll the details.

  • What is the start of your class like? What are you doing when the bell rings? What are kids doing when the bell rings? (Do your routines make things run smoothly?)
  • How do you take attendance? (Is it easy and fast for you?  Do you forget every other day?)
  • How do you transition between activities? (Do kids stay on task? Or is that when you lose them?)
  • How much English do YOU speak during class? (Do you get anywhere close to that 90% goal?) How can you hold yourself accountable next year?
  • How much English do your kids speak during class? How can you hold them more accountable next year?
  • What types of activities do kids love and stay engaged with?
  • What types of activities bombed?
  • How do you conclude your class periods? (How do kids know it's time to pack up? Do you give them an exit ticket or use other strategies to close?)
  • How do you collect and pass back work? (Is it easy and efficient?)
  • What are your routines for grading papers in a (hopefully) timely manner?
  • What (if any) topics did you spend too much time on?  What (if any) topics did you not spend enough time on or not get to?
  • How much time per week did you spend on grading? Or on planning? How can you make these tasks more efficient?
  • How often did you reach out to parents? How can you communicate more effectively next year about their child's progress?

Start with what went well.  

Write everything down! You probably won't remember these details in August once Back to School season rolls around. (Guys, that time is gonna come back around. You can't avoid it.)

Those kids wouldn't have learned Spanish without you! But besides that, what routines did you put in place that made your classroom run more smoothly? What kids did you connect with that behaved better for you than for their other teachers?

Make a list and think about what you definitely want to keep doing next year.


via GIPHY

Think about routines that you can tweak or improve next year. 

One year I decided that the consequence for forgetting to bring your notebook to class and having to leave class to go get it, was that I would turn your desk upside down and you'd have to turn it right-side up when you got back. It was annoying and silly enough to encourage kids to remember their notebooks. However, it led to kids turning each other's desks upside down all the time because they thought it was hilarious. I did not do that again the following year. #fail #chaos #badidea #truestory

What were your "I'll turn their desks upside down" ideas? (Please do share in the comments if they're funny!) Think about how you can tweak those ideas for next year. Maybe you can let kids who regularly forget their notebooks keep them in your classroom, or you can take away points for forgetting your notebook, or you can give points to everyone who brings their notebook, or you can have a buddy remind them. Think about what will be easy for you and the routines you already have in place!


via GIPHY

Really take your time pondering and thinking. Bounce ideas off of a teacher friend. Check out this post for a refresher on classroom management. 

Extra Credit for the people who love planning (i.e. My People!):

Re-work your long-range plans from last year for this coming school year. Delete that stupid project you did that resulted in a paper ball fight breaking out in your classroom (I KNOW that hasn't only happened in my classroom). Think about how you can add more activities that students loved and how you can cover the entire curriculum if you didn't do that this year. 
  • Are you thinking about incorporating a Baile Viernes in your classroom? 
  • Do your kids love coloring activities even half has much as mine ever did?
  • Have you ever thought about teaching a novel?
  • Do you want to start using task cards
  • Are you going to keep track of participation with "pesos" next year? (This actually is a nightmare to keep track of in my experience, so I wish you the best of luck if you decide to go down this road.)
  • Does the idea of interactive notebooks sound fun?
  • Would your kids just love listening to Spanish music in class?
  • Can you keep kids engaged with more authentic resources in your classroom?
  • Do you need more ideas for listening activities you can use in a pinch?

Reflection is a crucial part of being better each year. Please comment below if you have any questions or want to bounce ideas off of anyone, if you have previously had any lightbulb moments in past years you want to share, or if you have ever turned kids' desks upside down as a consequence.


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