This year I was told I would have one class of 4. FOUR…. 1,2,3,4! WHAT?!
I had several teachers come to tell me how fortunate I was and exactly what THEY would do with such a small class. I told them all honestly that a small class is my greatest fear. I would rather a class of 42! HONEST. Especially with CI. The more confident voices the better. Â I was terrified students would be scared of hearing their own voice and would therefore not speak up when I ask them to chorally answer questions.
This fear was then alleviated when I saw who the four students were on the first day. Four of my strongest students from last year who have no fear speaking out and take risks daily with their language.
Then the class number increased from 4 students to 5. I was excited until I met the new student and then went straight back to terrified again. Four of these students (8th graders) will probably test into level three, maybe even four next year for their first year of high school. They are STRONG students coming from a background of acquiring with CI. The fifth student is brand new to StM and has taken a few years of Spanish but in an INCREDIBLY traditional classroom. He told me last week that they had to memorize all the words for fruits and vegetables in the first three days of school last year and then they had a test on them. He couldn’t remember the word for a single fruit and was embarrassed. It was nice to be able to explain to him the reasons WHY he couldn’t recall that vocabulary. He told me he felt like even after 2 weeks of Spanish with me he could already do more than he ever could do before. #meltme
I met with this student and his mom and explained CI and explained how I would be teaching this class and that it wasn’t as simple as differentiating and creating a new worksheet at his level. I explained that the best way he would succeed in class is by watching my every single move and listening 100% of the time with his eyes and ears. He has already picked up so much even when I am speaking at a higher level! I am so so so proud of him.
So what have we done in this class?! LOTS of sitting and chatting. Literally actually. Normally in my classes I sprint around and bounce off the walls. In this class it doesn’t feel needed or natural. Instead, I pull up a chair and we sit in a tiny little circle and CHAT! We also laugh… TONS…..We have yet to follow a lesson I’ve planned. Last week we talked about everything: from the problem with obesity and pollution in the US, to terrorist attacks abroad, to our favorite snoball flavors and they even helped me wedding plan. It is the PERFECT example of how non-targeted input looks in my classroom. Most every day we find one new “structure” that is “needed” to talk about whatever it is we are discussing. The week before last we talked about places we’ve gone or movies we’ve seen and we used the present perfect a LOT but it was SO natural. I also found myself using si clauses (if a lot that week. Did they have any comprehension issues? Not at all! It was so natural and easy for them. I love every minute of it.
My favorite thing that we do is our “excursiones” or field trips! Here are some of the one’s that have naturally happened. NONE have been planned.
- One day my coffee spilled everywhere. Since it is literally the 2nd period of the day, I REALLY needed my coffee. We went on a walk to the cafeteria to get me another one and we talked about predictions on what we would have for lunch
- We saw Peaches the famous cat that roams campus running outside, so we decided to follow him. Then one of the kids said that Peaches has his own instagram so when we got back to the class we ended up talking about what we like about Instagram and what we don’t and how many followers we have, etc.
- One of the students in class has a mom that works on campus. On her Birthday, we made an enormous card in Spanish and surprised her and hung it in her office. We also made this video for her
- Another day, the kids were looking at my ceiling and they observed that several tiles were a different color. I was convinced they had lost their mind as they were certain it didn’t look like that last year. So we went to find the facilities staff. The head of facilities came out and chatted with us in broken Spanish about the roof. She was SO impressed with my class’ Spanish!
- Last week when we were discussing the biggest problems facing the US and World, we decided to take a field trip to visit Mrs. O’Flynn, our fearless MS administrative assistant to ask her what her opinion on the matter was.
- One day we heard giggling outside and we went to find all of the little babies (2-3 year olds) playing outside the head of school’s office. We stopped and narrated their playing.
- I had a roach problem in my class 3 weeks ago (LIKE FOUR GIANT WINGED ROACHES HAD TAKEN OVER MY CLASS) so rather than staying in the room and thinking about the next time they may fly out of a dark corner to attack me, we went to the admissions office because we had heard they were having a problem with possoms. We wanted to ask if we could borrow one to catch my roaches and on our way there we met a nice man from Honduras who was visiting campus and he LOVED that we were actually speaking Spanish with NO English words at ALL thrown in! (THANK YOU CIRCUMLOCUTION!)
I wanted to write this as a reflection for myself but also as encouragement to those of you who maybe are facing a HUGE fear this year. Mine was a small class. It has turned out to be really wonderful. I love forming relationships with my students (obviously) and I think these 5 will be some of the strongest ever…. <3
Until next time,
La Maestra Loca