Monthly Archives: June 2017

Fun in Spanish

I’m at the end of my fourth day of teaching in a Spanish immersion week. Everyone who’s important knows that I am not truly a Spanish teacher. Everyone in my classes likes how I speak slowly and carefully. They understand me! There’s no way I could speak any faster…my monitor is working overtime, and I know that students will learn in this class. I don’t want them to learn incorrect language.

I am having the time of my life! I’m learning to simplify what I do know, and how to compensate for what I don’t. I keep track of phrases I need (“Tenemos suerte” is my most recent acquisition), and when I don’t know something, if I can’t divert attention, I tell the class I don’t know and we move on. It feels as though I’m born to do this language-teaching thing. I knew it was fun in Russian. It’s even easier in Spanish, partly because there’s so much out there. Storytelling authors: you have some orders coming! I brought an assortment of books–some that I had bought for myself, and also a couple of class sets that I ordered for my class at home–just in case people would want them. They did. They’re drinking up the chance to be able to understand what they read. I know just how they feel.

It’s too bad I can’t sit in on the other language classes, because they’re at the same time I’m teaching. But that doesn’t matter…I’m learning a lot by doing my research in the evenings and by actually teaching the material for the second or third time. This is the most patient group of students ever. I’m truly grateful for this opportunity. And now I feel even more inspired to continue my Spanish language acquisition adventure.

 

Accountability discussions

I’m visiting my daughter in New York (City, if you’re on the west coast). The day I arrived, she invited me to accompany me to her actors’ group accountability session. I had heard about these meetings, but never experienced one. Her group combines advice, counseling, and meeting of friends.

Each person had a chance to talk about his or her week, and then the group leader went through a list that the group had helped that member make the previous week. Most of the members had completed most of the items on their lists.

I loved the public sharing of accomplishments, and wonder whether this could be added to the Bryce-Special-Person day starter, especially for those groups who have known one another well for some time, and where the deeper questions he suggests are successful discussion starters.

In the acting group, the leader suggested steps actors needed to take to keep their careers moving forward. She knew how to help people network, how to time emails to potential agents and responses to companies, and she recommended specific seminars. It was fascinating, and it gave my daughter a reality check about what folks ahead of her on the acting ladder were still doing, as well as lauding her for short-term accomplishments. Each week, the leader helps members add a manageable set of new goals, and she emails them their lists after the discussion.

In school, “accountability” is usually about a specific class, whether that is positive or negative. I might check in on a student whose assignment or book is overdue, hand back assignments or completed rubrics, and if I happen to hear about a sport activity or drama event, I will ask questions and applaud successes. But I don’t have a way to  intentionally help students take small steps toward other life goals.

Where students know one another in a supportive classroom climate, each day could include check-ins with a couple students on goals to include a personal one (relationship or organizational), a health or lifestyle goal, and a step toward specific interests (learning about a career or getting involved in a club, for instance). Then as the cycle came around again, the class could check in with the student. It probably couldn’t turn around as quickly as the weekly actors’ group, given class sizes, but that might be good for students, who might need more time to work on goals, as well as for the teacher and other class members, who might have time to research ways they could be of assistance.

It occurs to me that keeping the class “checklist” could be a class job; students could maintain it on a section of the class website or simply keep a notebook page for everyone.

I love how talking about big topics makes class groups become communities, and I suspect that kids might like the addition of a model of setting and noting achievements of goals in their personal and professional lives. Can’t wait to start implementing in August!