I’ve officially completed my first, full two weeks with students. This third week will be my first full week using 90% or more target language (TL) every day.
In my recent podcast, I talked about how important it is to prioritize community, setting expectations, and establishing relationships in the first few weeks RATHER than trying to jump straight into TL facilitation. You can listen to that episode by clicking below.
One of the very first things I did with my students was create our community norms. I blogged about this process a few years ago. You can read it here.
Creating Classroom Community Norms
The idea is, rather than providing my students with a list of rules that they have to follow, we create our classroom norms together. These are a set of expectations that we, as a community, have to follow and uphold in order for our classroom to run smoothly. Students know that we will find the most success in Spanish class if we hold each other accountable to our community norms. Here is a resource you can use if you want to do this process with your students.
I’ve done this for 5 years in a row now, but this was the first time I:
- Did it with younger students.
- Did it with so many classes (7 classes)
- Added an additional step of “editing” the norms together
- Had students “sign” a forever visible community contract
I would recommend doing this with 3rd grade students (maybe 2nd…) through high school seniors. The purpose and process is to invest them in the norm creation process so that they’re more committed to them since THEY created them.
I teach 7 classes each day. My schedule is BUSY BUSY, but the day goes by really quickly.
Community Norms for All Classrooms
Since wall space is limited, I needed to create ONE set of norms with my students that ALL classes would commit to and follow.
Following the same process I talked about in this blog, I had groups of students write down their top 3 favorite norms on a sticky note at the end of class, and then I read through all of those to look for trends at the end of the day.
This year, when I brought the “trends” back to students the next day, I went through a 5-15 minute “editing” process with them to ensure that each class felt really good about the final norms. This was such an awesome addition, and I had no idea how invested kids would be. They really wanted to be intentional about the wording of each norm.
As you can see in this short video below (where I talk about each step of the process), each trend that I brought to them changed a little, and one changed a lot. One was “Have Fun!” and by the end of the day it changed to “try your best” because students in 3 classes remarked that you won’t ALWAYS like EVERY activity and you should still “try your best” to stay positive even if you’re not having fun. How awesome are these kids?
Students saw how much time and energy I committed to this activity and understood that it would be an essential part of our classroom community moving forward.
Introduce a Brain Break
On the last day of the process, I introduced them to the serpientes Brain Break, and at the end of that I had ONE student who was the “winner”. That student came to the front of the class with me and chose a piece of paper out of a pile I had on a desk. Each paper had the name of a country on it and that is how I assigned classroom country names this year! You can read about why I LOVE doing this in the blog here. You can find a resource for Spanish classes, French classes, and German classes in my TPT store!
Once the piece of paper was chosen, we celebrated. Then, I told them one fact about the country that was picked or one reason I love the place! Next, I explained that we would each sign the sheet of paper committing to the community norms that we created.
I put on “puedo ir al baño” and called students up individually to sign in the color of their choice. (That is DEFINITELY something that takes longer with younger kids… such a HUGE choice!???)
Here is a picture of me looking awkward in front of our final classroom community norms surrounded by each class’s community contract! (Honduras hadn’t signed theirs yet). This is a permanent feature in my class this year, and it is in a place where I can easily access it to remind students if a norm is not being met. It is also in a place they can easily see it and hold each other accountable to them too!
Happy Back to School!
I hope that you have a FANTASTIC start to your school year with your students! If you’re looking for an epic activity for your first day, something for your students to get to know you (or get to know you better) while you simultaneously learn lots about them, I’ve got you covered!
Listen to episode 15 of Teaching La Vida Loca for my new FAVE back to school activity! Gracias to Sra Garcia, Tami G, and Barbara S. for introducing me to it!
Sending lots of love and positive energy!
Until next time,
La Maestra Loca