I’m struggling to come down from the mountain of 450 people who will talk second language acquisition till you fall over from exhaustion.
There were so many GREAT presenters and SuperStars at iFLT 2016!! I am still working up my notes from Martina Bex, Jason Fritz, Leslie Davison and Linda Lee. If you are not following these people on their blog or twitter YOU ARE MISSING OUT!!!
Take-away #1- Take time to reflect on your teaching.
OK, so you may not be able to go to a conference. I was able to go this year because it was an hour and a half away. I also have an AMAZING support system at home to take care of my three little boys. I also work at an AMAZING school that will cover costs for me to go and provide lots of resources every year.
But even if you can’t do that, take some time to reflect. You know that blog you have been wanting to read or article that interests you. You know that podcast (TEA with BVP) or a webinar (TPRS publishing has a FREE webinar coming up this week on how to teach novels) DO IT! I know I get into a rush to get the next thing done. I need to work on lesson plans or my classroom, but taking time to get some Professional Development can not only change your teaching, it can change your whole attitude about your profession.
We all know those teachers that get stuck in a rut. I have heard many teachers say “What if it is just another trend?” “My school won’t let me teach that way anyways, so why bother?” But lots of times teaching is being brave enough to try something when you don’t know it will work. Being willing to be wrong or to not do something as well the first few times. Being willing to have a bad lesson. Also OK your school won’t let you do it all this way. What will they let you do? Have to teach with a textbook you don’t like? OK be the best teacher of that textbook you can be. Scott Benedict has a great webinar called “Textbook to TPRS” that is FREE right now. It can help you change a chapter in a traditional textbook to be more like the way we know to teach. Get out there and find some help in what it is you need to make yourself a better teacher.
Take-away #2- Take time to savor the lesson you planned
Sometimes we get so bogged down by the GREAT lesson we made we forget to actually slow down long enough for kids to savor the lesson. I do this all the time, and I had a student teacher a few years ago that would teach with one eye on her notes and one on the clock. Neither of those things were the most important thing in the room. Then she would be frustrated because she didn’t get everything in that she wanted and the kids did terrible on the assessment. After watching her a few times I tried to explain it like this:
A good lesson plan is like a good recipe. You can prepare all the equipment you are going to need and buy all the right ingredients. But if at the end you serve it to your audience you tell them they only have 30 seconds to eat,
THEY CAN’T SAVOR THE MEAL (and end up with a tummy ache).
So this year I want to stop looking at the clock. Stop checking the boxes off on my lesson plan, and think about the activity I am trying to do with my kids. If I have to rush through it then maybe I need to save it for later. If I don’t have time then maybe I need to reduce the time I spend on multiple activities and really SAVOR one/two activities. I don’t want to give the excuse that I didn’t teach the way I know is best because I didn’t have time. What am I there for if not to take the time to teach the way I know I should?
I am a multitasker. I think you have to multitask to some degree to be a teacher or a parent. But so many times I am so busy making all the plates spin that I forget to be in the moment with my students. I am so preoccupied with the next activity or the next class that I forget to help the people right in front of me. It is like the boy in “The Three Questions” story.-
What is the right time to begin everything?
The most important time is NOW. The present is the only time over which we have power.
Who are the right people to listen to, and whom to avoid?
The most important person is the person you are with.
What is the most important thing to do?
The most important thing is to do good to the person you are with.
Take-away #3 – FEAR is paralyzing
I have a secret. I am not a native speaker, and I have always had a fear of not being enough for my students. It has paralyzed me to not try and put myself out there for people to see. It has paralyzed me to not even pursue improving my Spanish because I might need help and then what would people think. I am the Spanish teacher. I should be perfectly fluent. I can’t help anyone. But NO MORE! I am going put myself out there. I am going to make mistakes. I am going to ask for HELP. If that person disapproves of me then I find someone else. It is no fun being afraid so I might as well strive for something different.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” -Theodore Roosevelt
Sometimes I spend more time on the things I am not than the things I am. If you didn’t get a chance to hear Stephen Krashen Monday night at the end of the Fluency Fast classes then check it out on their Facebook page HERE. (you will have to scroll down a bit, there are two parts, but it is SO GOOD!!)
Leslie Davison told us at the end of the conference, “When you go back to your classroom, the only teacher that you have to compare yourself to is YOU before Chattanooga.” I am not those rockstars that I observed. I am not the awesome teacher down the hall. I am not the calm and quiet teacher that has kids doing amazing things without all the noise. I am loud, dramatic, and goofy. I don’t plan out my lessons 3 weeks in advance like that great teacher next door. I am me. I want to be the best me. And I want to tell myself the same thing that I want to tell the new students next year walking into my classes with no Spanish experience- “Don’t compare yourself to those around you. Compare yourself to who YOU were yesterday, last week, or last year.”