For the past eight days, I’ve been talking about the Olympics while getting to know my students and establishing routines. The goal is to build a classroom culture based on trust, respect, and kindness. In Spanish II we often get students from different schools and even districts so I also use these two weeks to am assess students’ proficiency level . Finally and most importantly, I am front loading all the vocabulary students will need to read Felipe Alou by Carol Gaab, but my students don’t know this yet. As far as they know, they think I just like to gossip about athletes and the coaches at our school.
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a. I welcomed every student at the door with a friendly smile. Then I said to them in Spanish “backpack on the table please.” Oh, I forgot to mention that I have a desk-less classroom.
b. I assigned seats to students from day one. This step is critical because it sends a message to the students that you’re in charge (Ben Slavic.) Then, I told them to greet their neighbor with “hello, how are you?” in Spanish.
c. I told them in Spanish to stand up, and I modeled our daily greeting. We practice that twice.
d. I taught them the gestures for I don’t understand, may I speak English? Repeat, slower and write it on the board.
e. I shared some information about my life with them in Spanish. I also reminded them to use the gestures I just taught them to show me that they were listening. I only shared a few details using lots of cognates and asking comprehension questions. I also engaged them in the conversation. For instance, I told them that I live in Long Beach, I asked who has visited Long Beach. A handful of students raised their hands. So I picked one of them, I ask him his name, and then I asked him again you visited Long Beach? Yes! I repeated his answer, and then I address the rest of the class “oh class ___ visited Long Beach.” What I’m doing here, is teaching my class that everything that they say is important to me and that they need to show appreciation and respect when we talk to one another. Then I continued to ask the student more questions about his visit to Long Beach. When? where? how? with whom?
f. Wow! The ten-minute bell rang! Time flies by when you’re having fun. I used the last ten minutes to assign the password to enter the classroom (Original idea accredited to the Awesome Alina Filipescu) and we practiced our exit procedure (Credit: Bryce Hedstrom)
Estudiantes: ¡Sí, señora!
Profesora: Gracias por aprender.
Estudiantes: Gracias por enseñarnos.
Profesora: Pueden guardar sus cosas.
*Disclaimer: None of these ideas are of my creation; they are based on things I have learned by attending workshops and observing other teachers and Carol Gaab two-day visit to our school district.