September 11, 2019 | #EarlyLang

Back to School: Starting the Year Out Strong
from September 11, 2019

On September, language teachers from grades K-8, and beyond, met for the biweekly EarlyLang chat. Participants discussed

Q1: What supplies, materials, or layout help you set up your learning environment for a great start?

Supplies needed often depend on the age of the students. For the littles, stuffed animals, puppets, and book buddies help set the learning environment. Older students respond more to Legos or dice. Other must-haves include seating charts, folders for student work, and word walls for those with classrooms. Color coding and a consistent layout help students as they adjust to the learning environment and help keep the teacher organized. In addition, enough sleep, a sense of humor and a caffeine source help the teacher stay motivated.

Q2: How do you establish expectations with your learners and their caregivers?

Some schools have a course management system that teachers can use to convey expectations to the families. Other teachers create a syllabus or pamphlet that explains the course and what is expected from students. Taking time to go over expectations with students and practice procedures can help them to know their role. Modeling and positive reinforcement can also help students adjust to learning in a different language.

Q3: How do you set a tone of high TL use from the start?

@madamelitten, “I tell my students that I love to use timers. In the beginning, it’s “Can we go X minutes without English?” Start out with 1, 2, 4, 6 minutes.”

@MundodePepita, “My 1st-4th graders already know the routine & how class is. W/ Kinder I employ a lot of silent demonstration & instruction.”

@SECottrell, “you might find some good tips & ideas in this #langchat summary from ’13

@suarez712002, “Input, input, input, songs, videos, TPR take advantage of whatever situation to use TL in a meaningful way.”

Q4: What practices & activities build community, energy & positivity in your classroom that will last throughout the year?

            Participants agreed that students need to feel valued and a part of the community. If the teacher takes an interest in the students and model positivity, the students will follow the teacher’s lead. One participant suggested honesty and positive reinforcement. When students are not acting in the expected manner, explain classroom expectations again. When they do act as expected, provide positive consequences. Humor, silliness, and jokes can make students feel comfortable and for older students, they will see that the teacher isn’t too serious. If students suspect a teacher takes themself too seriously, it can be an invitation to misbehavior. Lastly, giving students nicknames can create a connection, particularly for reluctant students.

Q5: What practices or techniques can be used to learn children’s names & build personal relationships, especially when teaching a large number of students?

Several participants mentioned getting to know something about their students; one teacher uses an interest survey, another greets students by name with a handshake. Seating charts with photos of students are also useful as are nametags or headbands with student names. Finally, call on students using their names as often as possible, especially in the beginning of the year.

Thank you to all who participated in this #EarlyLang chat! Thank you to our lead moderator, Julie (@MundodePepita), and our co-moderator,Sara-E. Cottrell (@SECottrell), for helping to guide the conversation. Thanks also to EMC School (@EMCSCHOOL) for sponsoring tonight’s chat.

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