13 January 2011

Spanish teachers are supposed to...

It's been five years since I posted these frustrations. I share it now to convey how absolutely lost and overwhelmed we can all feel with expectations that come at us from every direction--state requirements, local colleagues, national standards, parents, and students. I think I've come a long way in five years--a LONG way! Proficiency-based PBL is working WORLDS better for me and my students. But it was NOT a smooth transition! 
--LKS 1/14/16

...teach months and days of the week before getting halfway through Spanish 1

...introduce common object names for interpretive communication before the 1st semester mark

...give beginning students songs and poems they can sing or recite

...make a bigger deal out of Hispanic holidays

...work gustar and various activities in by now

...talk about the weather more the first year

...use ir and its sundry present tense conjugations as early and often as possible

...make students identify famous Hispanic people and animals from photos

...read stories to their students in Spanish, and have students read for themselves

...incorporate various forms and applications into lesson plans

...do more with sports in the classroom

...emphasize maps more

...get to food and cooking AFTER school and small talk stuff

...discuss students' weekends and vacations in Spanish

...address daily routine vocabulary

...play whole songs, movies, and newscasts in Spanish for students to interpret regularly

All this just to get the kids to "Intermediate Low" on Linguafolio.

To be an "accomplished teacher of world languages" according to the National Boards, I should also be...

...incorporating realia and authentic texts, literary and nonliterary, on a regular basis (a "mosaic of authentic materials," no less)

...making students learn about themselves and others at the same time

..."deepening the array of resources available" to my students beyond textbooks (which, at least, I don't use)

...make sure all lessons somehow convey "cultural appropriateness"

On top of that, I found a rubric, which I really like, that also suggests that I am falling down on the job by not...

...teaching and requiring the use of varied conjunctions and transitions

...actively encouraging compound, complex, and/or compound-complex sentence structures

I'm teaching things all out of order, thus making a big muddle of what it makes sense for students to know at their respective stages, and ultimately begging the question a parent asked me offhand as she was waiting for her son the other day: "Why can't he say more by now?"

And this, this is why I am probably a sucky Spanish teacher and may never get National Boards.


  1. Yeah and they're supposed to dance on their heads for at least 10 minutes a class too while resolving students' personal problems.

  2. There's nothing on this about STUDENTS are supposed to do. Teachers can only do so much. Students have to pull their weight. "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." You can teach a kid Spanish, but you can't make him learn!

  3. *...about what STUDENTS are supposed to do.

  4. This is incredible. Because all a language classroom consists of is boring grammar rules, memorizing lists of words, and breaking open a piñata on Cinco de Mayo (Mexican Independence Day, of course...).

    The rubric link is broken....I'm interested in seeing what it entailed!

    1. I want to emphasize this was a very confusing time in my career when I had NO idea what I should be doing. What I should NOT have been doing was focusing on what everyone ELSE was doing. I SHOULD have been focusing on my STUDENTS' proficiency and how to build it.

      I can't recall exactly which Fairfax rubric it was, but I'm pretty sure it was one of these: http://www.fcps.edu/is/worldlanguages/pals/

  5. What would be the first step you would recommend to start working through these expectations and restore your focus on the students and their learning?

    1. Good question! I'd say the first step is to find a good authentic text (perhaps an infograph or a video) on which you can build an IPA. Pick something related to a unit you're already doing! Try it instead of a test! Students can pick out what they understand and interpret it, then have a discussion with you on a related topic, and then write something purposeful on the same topic!