The First Weeks — What Are We Doing?”
from September 26, 2018
On September 26, language teachers from grades K-8, and beyond, met for the biweekly EarlyLang chat. Tonight, the discussion centered on the beginning of school—what do teachers look forward to, how to build trust and excitement about another language while implementing expectations.
Q1: What do you look forward to the first few weeks of school?
The beginning of school can be very exciting—there are some new faces, some familiar. The promise of newness and change provide motivation and a challenge to be met. Many teachers love the freshness of the environment—shiny floors, new paint, supplies. Others are excited to see students from previous years. In addition, summer provided time to go to conferences or learn independently. Several teachers mentioned being eager to implement new ideas learned during the break. Finally, getting back into a routine can be energizing.
Q2: How do you build trust and create a nurturing environment while using the target language?
Building trust is always a necessary element in the classroom, with #earlylang it is even more so as students are with the same teacher for several years. Most participants agreed that learning student names, establishing routines, and having a caring attitude in all interactions with students. Others mentioned smiling, humor and nonverbal gestures to aid in comprehension as ways to encourage students to relax and get ready to learn.
Q3: What steps do you take to build excitement about learning another language?
@alcolli1 “We talk about culture… and WOW! do they get excited! We listen to funny songs, and I give students a voice in what they learn. I try to tie in or emphasize their interests in the units.”
@rrrrrrrrrrrrosa “Honestly, the students who have told me they’re excited about learning have said it’s because I’m obviously pumped about it. We’re here to have fun and learn Spanish. They’ve learned my class is that kind of place.”
@sspielb “recently to build excitement for language learning, I try to finish most lessons w/ a “🎬trailer” – “coming to a Spanish class near you!” Sometimes a cliff hanger- sometimes their homeroom Ts know but are sworn to secrecy. What will happen? Stay tuned!”
@SpanishTogether “Fun and interesting projects. We are now getting ready to join the symbolic Monarch migration and my second graders love it.”
Q4: How do you implement classroom expectations in an #earlylang class?
As one participant said, “clarity, consistency, brevity.” Some participants have students create a list of expectations and use those to create a classroom poster. Others have visuals with expectations and take time to teach and practice routines. To encourage compliance, address by proximity for an individual or by using hand signals. For a larger number of students, or whole class, draw attention to the expectation to remind them of appropriate behaviors and actions.
Q5: When do you begin teaching “curriculum”?
Most participants begin on the first day, there is a lot of material to cover and with short classes, every minute counts. Often, the first lessons review or build on what students have already learned or are confidence builders. Using the TL on the first days to go over expectations and routines is curriculum, it doesn’t have to be the book or other typical curriculum materials.
Reflaction (reflection + action) How will tonight’s chat affect these first few weeks of school? What is your action plan?
There were only a few reflactions posted. Teachers mentioned reviewing resources shared during the chat, including the tomatina unit mentioned by Señorita Walpole (@SrtaWalpole). Another teacher stated that she would be intentional about using her school’s positive reinforcement plan and has already made notes of classes who need more reminders.
Thank you to all who participated in this #EarlyLang chat! Thank you to our lead moderator, M Cristina Rdz-Villa, (@MaCristinaRV) for leading the chat and to our co-moderator, Jenni Delfini, (@JL_Delf), for helping guide the conversation. Thanks also to EMC School (@EMCSCHOOL) for sponsoring tonight’s chat.
Want to vote for our upcoming #Earlylang topics? https://t.co/l1VbHqzLU1
For a full transcript, please go to https://www.participate.com/transcripts/earlylang/fcd2fa3a-5afa-439e-b51f-de6cd97d0ac5