December 11, 2019 | #EarlyLang

An #Earlylang Check-In, Reminders for Self-Care, and Tips for Ensuring Sanity for You and Your Students
from December 11, 2019

On December 11, language teachers from grades K-8, and beyond, met for the biweekly EarlyLang chat. An often-neglected aspect of teaching is how we’re doing emotionally. We ensure that our students are fine while ignoring our own needs. In this chat, participants gave suggestions for maintaining mental well-being as we head into the holidays. They also discussed warning signs that things need to change and practices that can help teacher and student maintain sanity.

Q1: Share a GIF that expresses how you feel right now.

What did we do before the internet gave us so many ways to express how we feel? Some of the highlights:

@windycitysenora, as she leaves school




Humor is certainly one way to maintain sanity and to feel better.

Q2: What warning signs in yourself / colleagues / learners alert you that something needs to change?

@jl_delf, “ lack of focus, lack of attn, lack of participation…. just magnified times a thousand at this point in the year! lack of focus, lack of attn, lack of participation…. just magnified times a thousand at this point in the year!”

@MaCristinaRV, “The students are so energized and overstimulated that they aren’t capable of controlling their movements.”

@nathanlutz, “when my best performers struggle, I know something is up.”

@SpanishTesorito, “When their smiles do not match the look in their eyes.”

@windycitysenora, “Also notice when the SS become disregulated-not able to do things they normally can do in class-independently, relating to others.”

@madamelitten, “General negativity that creeps in. Starting convos off with less-than-positive statements/complaining/kvetching. And it’s contagious.”

Q3: What practices do you do to keep yourself sane amid high kid energy, disruptions to the schedule from snow days and concert rehearsals?

Participants discussed many techniques that work, ranging from chocolate to exercise. Taking time to keep in touch with other teachers can help lessen the load. Others mentioned music, comedies, and funny memes as ways to ease the tension that results during this hectic time of year. Lists can help with prioritizing and as a means of remembering all the little details that must be taken care of. Finally, one must realize that sometimes things will go awry and to let go when that happens.

Q4: What practices do you implement to help keep your learners calm and feeling safe during periods of high stress?

Routines, routines, routines. Participants agreed that keeping to a predictable class structure reassures students. Affirm that they are safe, individual check-ins, and staying calm are other ways to assure students of their safety. Teachers can also plan activities that are easier or familiar so that students are not using full brain power. Finally, because something is routine it doesn’t have to be boring. Add in some holiday cheer, or include older activities as a way to keep things fresh while encouraging serenity.

Q5: Do you / How do you adjust language goals when class/schedule gets crazy?

At this time of year, it is important to recognize the need to adjust and change plans. With all the excitement of the holiday and with changing schedules, keeping things low key while maintaining routines can help students as well as teachers. Games, such as Kahoot, incorporating art, and stations with lower energy activities also help keep students on track.

Reflaction (Reflection + action) How will you rest and restore over school breaks?

We teachers often don’t take the tie for ourselves that we need to recharge, especially during breaks. Participants mentioned a number of ways to take that needed time. Several plan no prep work or limited to a specific time already scheduled. Others mentioned time with family, trips to the library, and lots of hot chocolate. Finally, our co-moderator posted this bingo, which would actually be useful at any time of the year Teacher bingo.

Thank you to all who participated in this #EarlyLang chat! Thank you to our lead moderator, Jenny Delfini(@JL_Delf) , and our co-moderator, M Cristina Rdz-Villa (@MaCristinaRV), for helping to guide the conversation. Thanks also to Nathan Lutz (@nathanlutz) for the images!

Do take some time to relax during the holidays—use the ideas from this chat as a starting place. Enjoy your time with family and friends and try not to think about school all the time. Happy Holidays!

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