This is the time of year that feels like an important time for reflection. If I don't reflect now, I won't remember all the new thoughts that I had going through this year, and I will become stagnant. Here is what is on my mind lately:
1. The importance of story - Story is a powerful tool, hence the Bible, the ongoing popularity of LOTR. We love stories. It's why we watch movies. So, if language is going to be powerful and engaging it needs to also somehow be part of a larger story that students are invited to participate in. TPRS is a language teaching tool that starts to get at this, but is it enough? I'm particularly thankful here for ideas like MOVIE TALK. One goal that I have moving forward is to have more conversations with the wonderful counselor at BCA, Pam Halligan about STORYLINE design.
2. Taking advantage of the 'Selfie' generation - My students all want to be famous (more or less). One thing that I have learned this year is that I truly enjoy making videos/taking photos of great work that my students are doing in class. They seem to be more engaged in writing a play or reading a story aloud if they know that their completed work will be available to a more public audience. Here is my first try at this type of work.
3. If we are going to teach collaboration we must be doing it as well - I had an opportunity this year to work with our science teacher and tech administrator on a collaborative field trip and follow up project. It was amazing (and challenging) to share space in each other's rooms and schedules. I had to be comfortable with kids working on science work during Spanish time and vice versa. A great challenge to this kind of work was figuring out how to assess students fairly and across our two classrooms.
4. We have to get OUT of the classroom - Particularly with my high school classes, I have the gift of small class sizes. I can fit a whole class in my mini van. Why have I not done more of that this year? One time - ONLY ONCE - I took my 10th graders out for lunch at a local restaurant. We tried new foods and they ordered in Spanish and then conversed in Spanish over lunch. It was amazing! They realized that Spanish has real application, and I realized that they can behave outside the walls of the school. They were called to something outside themselves and they responded well! I wish I had done this at least once each quarter. Next year I really hope to start to build an ongoing relationship with one outside resource.
I'm sure there's more, but I think these are some of my top reflections as I go into the summer. Thoughts? Feedback?
Shannon Norquist, teacher of Spanish and Dance at Barrington Christian Academy, mother of 3 lovelies, wife to an artist, modern dancer, daughter to the King.