What kind of teacher am I?

This excellent set of sentence starters comes to us from Sra. Spanglish of PBL in the TL, and she’s challenging all of us to complete it with her. So here we go…

1. I am a good teacher because I am committed to getting better. And better. And better. Even if it’s hard (and it is). I am driven to help my students discover their full potential, to grow as individuals, to form their own opinions, and, of course, to find their passion for (language) learning. All of that means that I can’t be “good enough” as a teacher – I have to keep learning and improving! Thank goodness for language blogs and #langchat!

2. If I weren’t a teacher I would be in finance, I think. I love the way numbers can be put together and organized and made sense of. In a teacher’s world, every day, every class, every student is a totally different puzzle. The (potential) neatness of numbers is attractive to a very different part of me than the part that loves teaching and language and irregular verbs.

3. My teaching style is in flux. This year has been a year of major change for me. Almost everything about the way I teach has changed and is changing this year. I used to be a sometime-lecturer and frequent game-player. Now I’m a sometime-storyteller, (very) rarely a lecturer, and still a pretty frequent game-player. I could go on…in fact, I think I’ve written a whole bunch of blog posts on this very topic, haha.

4. My classroom is not what I wish it were. There are some awesome things about my classroom (like my flags, which I have determined is a must for any future classroom I may have). There are also some things I don’t love. It doesn’t have the storage space I would like (or maybe I’m just not organized enough). The biggest thing I would change: my desks. The whole chair/desk combo does not work well for groups and pods and tables – which I want so badly. Instead I’m stuck with rows, and all the terrible noise of students who can’t pick up a desk to get into groups. But that’s a whole different rant…

5. My lesson plans are lacking. This is definitely an area where I am constantly trying new things and trying to figure out what’s going to work best for me. I have made some progress, but I still have a long way to go. This year, I’ve been doing the great majority of my planning in Google Sheets. This week I randomly outlined two lessons on paper, and the results were actually really good. It may be time to go low-tech for this one. I’ve always said I like the feeling of actually writing something down. I can’t believe I haven’t made this connection before now…

6. One of my teaching goals is (wait a minute, I have to choose one?) better defined units. I jumped right on the “no textbook” bandwagon this year, and it has been an excellent journey. I planned some great themed units, and found some good resources for them. But I think I need to outline my learning goals a little better. Sometimes they’re easy. I guess those are the good units. Sometimes there are a few big goals (they can talk about food), but not much else. The whole “no verb charts for lower levels” thing is a good thing in my opinion, but it certainly does make it easy to leave out important information!

7. The toughest part of teaching is the workload. The planning. Are you starting to see a theme here? I am. By the end of my 11-hour day (including my habit of going in 35 minutes early and my after-school, middle-school “tutoring” gig until 5:45 every evening), I am wiped. Going home and getting ready for the next day is hard. This will be my last year tutoring, and I think that will help a lot. Getting better at making lesson plans will help, too.

8. The thing I love most about teaching is seeing my students use Spanish. At all levels. My Spanish 1 students this year are constantly surprising me with how much they can do and how confident they are speaking Spanish (if that’s not a ringing endorsement for CI, then I don’t know what is!). My level 2s amaze me with how well they have trusted me and made the transition from grammar and vocab quizzes to stories and Mexican department store websites. And, just yesterday, I was impressed with how well they remember the vocab (we’re in an expanded body parts/health unit right now, and they totally know their stuff!), and with how far a couple of students’ ability to speak spontaneously has come this year. We’ve gone from “Tú usar lápiz escribir” to “Necesitas usar un lápiz para escribir”. Okay, those may not be exact quotes, but they’re definitely accurate examples of things I heard from the same student at the beginning of the year and yesterday. My 3s astound me with their ability to express and support their opinions, and their ability (and willingness) to talk about anything in Spanish. My 4s amaze me with their comprehension skills and the ease with which they tackle even the most difficult tasks I throw at them. They 4 of the top students in the school, but even with that in mind, they impress me.

9. A common misconception about teaching is that it ends when the school day ends. Ha!

10. The most important thing I’ve learned since I started teaching is that I don’t have to be perfect today. It’s a process (a long one!), and that cliché that every day should be better than the last is absolute crap. Sometimes, I have bad days, and there are definitely lessons were I don’t do better than yesterday. But I learn from them. I try not to make the same mistake twice (or at least not 3 or 4 times). Baby steps are important, even the ones that take you backwards. A commitment to improving and learning is the most important thing.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. MmeF says:

    We are clearly kindred spirits, as I would have answered all of those things! Especially the answer to #6! Who knew that “ditching the textbook” would require so much planning? And I’m with you about setting new goals. I’m definitely excited to revise this summer.

    1. Melanie says:

      Haha, I felt the same way! Especially when I read that actually writing lesson plans by hand works better for you. Something clicked for me – I *know* I like to write things by hand, so why did I never realize that was part of my lesson planning problem until now!?

  2. This is where I am! Number 5 is where I related the most. I want to meet you. 🙂

    1. Melanie says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed! I’m determined to make it to Central States next year, if you’re there we should definitely meet!

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