I Need Do ALL the Things

Timed free-writing
Learn the chorus
Circle conversations
Group conversations
Baile Viernes
Genius Hour
El Internado
Writing & revision
Speak more Spanish
Most common words

Those are just SOME of the things floating around right now that, according to the Internet, I should be doing in my classroom. On top of that, I should let them find their own vocabulary, focus on the top 10 verbs for novices, and make use of novels in class. Not to mention teaching a curriculum, building students’ proficiency, and preparing and motivating them to use their Spanish outside of my classroom.

Overwhelmed yet?

I am.

Let me first say that none of the things I listed are bad. They are all excellent tools that help students build proficiency, discover their passions, and find a use for language that goes beyond “I need it for college” or “My parents are making me.” I do some of those things, and they are valuable tools. But, confession time, I don’t do all of them. Sometimes I feel guilty because I don’t have enough books to implement FVR (yet!) or because I can’t find the time to fit in whatever I recently read about on someone’s blog. Sometimes I think that if I were just a little better, I could work 3 or 4 more things in and all my struggles would be solved and my students would suddenly be more motivated, more involved, and more proficient.

But here’s the thing I’m figuring out. All those things, although they are good tools, are just that – tools. And maybe someday I’ll invent a time machine that will let me incorporate every single one of those things every week, but even then, things wouldn’t be perfect. There would still be kids who just aren’t into it, who are having trouble at home, who got broken up with between classes, or who simply struggle with language. There would still be kids who say “Me llamo es” or “Es no alto.”

It’s possible to build proficiency without learning the chorus to a new song every week or giving a quiz over the most common words in conversation. It’s all about what works for me and my students. Am I perfect? No way. But I’m definitely improving. I may not get every one of those things in that list in every week (or ever), but several times this week I was hit by how far my students have come in 8 short weeks of school, and how, generally, they are actually motivated to learn and use Spanish.

I still want to work more of those great ideas into my classroom (and whatever someone comes up with next!), and maybe even come up with a few good ideas of my own, but I just keep reminding myself – it’s a journey. It’ll happen. It is happening. I don’t have to do it all right now. It’s a process. Chances are, some of those things will work their way in while others get phased out, and my classroom will look, sound, and feel a whole lot different in 5 years than it does now. As long as it’s different in a good way, I’m fine with that.

So – if you’re feeling like there are too many great things out there and you don’t know how you can possibly do them all, don’t worry. You probably can’t. But you can still be an effective teacher.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Allison says:

    Amen! You even mentioned me here, but I feel the same way! I have learned it is all about trying out some of the great ideas when you get a chance and keeping what works best for you and your students. I have many of these items on my someday list as well.

    1. Melanie says:

      Yep! That’s what I’m finally starting to realize and accept! My way may not be the best way, but it’s the best way I know, at least for now! I keep telling my students that I can’t ask them for more than their best, so how can I do that to myself?

  2. Emily says:

    I needed to hear this today, so mil gracias!

    1. Melanie says:

      De nada! I’m glad you liked it!

  3. Teresa York says:

    Yes to all of this!! I’m trying to do all the things, but I can’t. Thank you putting into words all my thoughts.

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