16 January 2018

Everybody On Board - Teacher Proficiency Paths

I asked Meredith Clark if her session was really for people like me. I'm not from a very large district, and I'm only an "LOTE leader" there because they're no longer paying anyone to fill any such role officially. But I really want to get my colleagues on board with proficiency-centered teaching. And I don't feel like anything I've tried in my unpaid capacity is changing anything. So I stayed.

It was the session that made my ACTFL, y'all.

I feel like I've spent the last several years spinning my wheels. When it looked like we were going to make some progress and actually overhaul our outdated district pacing guide for one brief shining moment, suddenly there was new management, and it was all out the window. The colleagues who helped out with the previously-authorized overhauling were discouraged from deviating. I mean, it probably wasn't "Square One," but it didn't feel like we would ever actually be allowed to get all the way to Square Two. And while my amigos agreed that proficiency-based instruction made a lot of sense, it was still pretty much out of reach.

The district let me put on some "Best Practices" PD and do some training with middle school Spanish teachers, and it felt like we might be making some inroads. But by November there were only about six people showing up, and by December, there were three of us.

But fortunately, I have the path from Dr. Clark and Dr. Anderton to get me back on track, moving--and pushing my friends--forward.

But before we get to the path, I'd like to take a look at what Drs. Clark and Anderton were pushing their teachers toward in the Dallas ISD, a set of goals they put together with the acronym "SPEAK UP":

Now these are some goals I can get behind! I might even be able to get my colleagues behind most of them, and from there maybe even administration. (I'm thinking we might have to start with simply "SPEAK," though.) Our fearless session leaders told us

In their roles as actual official district specialists, of course, Clark and Anderton were able to sort of...enforce this philosophy. But this revelation to start with getting everyone on the same page PHILOSOPHICALLY, with specific tenets that everyone could agree to (or, well, leave) gave me a new place to start, a new fulcrum for propelling the change that we could all agree was needed.

But then they laid the Path on me.

The "Educator Path to Proficiency-Centered Teaching" Dr. Clark put together based on the Shelby County Schools "Path to Proficiency":


In much the way I had started language teaching the way I learned it, I had been so wrapped up trying to replicate the conversion I'd experienced (minus the missteps) that I failed to see the logical progression needed for a more solid, collaborative evolution. I was treating transitioning from what we knew to what we wanted as an on-off switch, KNOWING full well it wasn't that easy for me either! I mean, I tried to skip all of the messy mess-ups I'd been blogging about for years and basically tried to get my amigos to just DO IT, just SWITCH. And then I got frustrated when it seemed like they just wouldn't.

Hm...this sounds like...another situation I've faced. Something where someone wouldn't just do what I said because I said to? Some time when I couldn't just take what I knew and transplant it into someone else's head....Oh when was that?


I know, I know, I know in my brain that teaching teachers is logically like teaching teenagers. If they don't have the background experience, the new thing is not going to make any more sense to them than that other new thing did to third period. Of COURSE teachers need models and context. Of COURSE there is a continuum to Getting It for a new method or paradigm.

And this path makes so much sense.

So for all of my andragogy training and techniques, I'm still not going to "succeed" until I provide something a profiency (or PBL) newbie can copy. I'm not going to have amigos on board the Good Ship Proficiency until I can offer them a template that they can actually use on a daily basis. They can't just skip to Intermediate Mid--any more than my students can or, to be perfectly honest, any more than I could.

13 January 2018

Music, Maestro! Student song of the week

I don't feel like keeping up with coros or listening practice this year, but I do want to keep the weekly infusion of energy from learning a new song. What's more, I want to tap into the message from the recent AATSPSC keynote and give kids a little more control, a little more ownership and leadership practice by having THEM present the song THEY liked instead of just running through my favorites for the year.

But where to begin?

Well when I don't know where to start, I start with Twitter, so I put the question to #langchat on Twitter. Of course I got some EXCELLENT suggestions:

One of my SC amigas who was at the same conference had a helpful caveat too:

So I took my PLN suggestions and narrowed down exactly what I wanted for every song to

  1. Chorus lyrics - presenters recite line by line and class repeats
  2. Relevant images - either from the video or to capture the message (or both)
  3. Main idea explanation - with supporting details, IN Spanish (since mine are level 2)
  4. Vocabulary - 5 words in Spanish and English: something unfamiliar but useful
  5. Choral reading - a la CI Liftoff, wherein they have a leader, but recite in English
  6. Activity time - for later in the week to review and demonstrate understanding, in the style of last year's Instagram challenges

Then I made a Google Slides template (free on TPT!) and an example with "El mismo sol," a song they heard Spanish 2 perform last year at our school festival:

We even did a practice Snap Story on Seesaw!

I made a Google Form from my 2017 and 2018 playlists to give students options, then had them listen to four songs (two from each playlist) that they liked. I did include an "other" slot as well, though Spanglish songs from Coco were a no-go, and my kids who went to Peru with me came back with a Bad Bunny obsession that could get me fired (I did let one kid do a throwback to "Tortura" though--talk about oldies!) Each student then ranked their top three.

I then went through the resulting spreadsheet and started color coding kids to match them up. I wanted to make sure everyone got at least one of their top 3, but that I had no more than 2 people doing the same song. Interesting note: with all of the weather delays and early dismissals, one class had to do their picking mostly on their own, and I got a lot more diversity in the requests from that group...whatever that means. They're a slightly smaller class, so I guess it's not too strange that they ended up with more singletons. Still, I'm not sure what this means for future surveys...

So I shared the groups with everyone (I did let a couple of singletons join forces, and I basically voluntold the one kid who didn't do his form he was doing my new favorite Friday song "Libre") and shared a Google Doc with all of our Monday dates on Classroom for them to edit and choose when they would present, pointing out they'd have to turn in their presentations the Thursday before to iron out any issues.

Then, maybe because I'm a glutton for punishment, maybe because I insist on eliminating excuses, I went through the completed signup list and made a separate assignment on Classroom for every. single. song. I assigned it each only to the one or two kids presenting, made it due the Thursday before they said they'd present. Honestly it only took me about 15-20 minutes tops for each class because it was mostly copy and paste, so it wasn't overly grueling.

Of course we don't have class this Monday, but I'm looking forward to what the first presenters come up with for "Internacionales" and "Corazón"!