01 January 2017

#OneWord 2017: Connect

I still need to prepare.

I still need less.

I still need good reasons, and reason.

But if I had to sum up what else was missing this past year, I would say I still need to

connect.

Connecting is something I struggled with last semester, and something that is already blocking me before next semester starts. I'm wrestling with all sorts of connections looking ahead to the new year, but professionally, my primary connection concerns are with students and content 


STUDENTS

Perhaps my top priority is a connection between the students and the content. If I do it right, it's also what connects me to the students, plugging into their perspectives and responding with something they actually could care about learning.

Now there was a time that I could delight in coming up with creative new lesson ideas, mentally hugging myself over how fresh, new, and FUN my own plans seemed to me. But now, now there's no joy if I can't picture Stephanie getting excited about it or Parth using it to get a laugh after he leaves class or Jessica admitting she can see the reason why we needed to do it.

It has to CONNECT with them.

Connecting what I plan, what I share, what I DO with the young people who are mine to educate and motivate--that's probably the most complex task I could take on as a teacher. As I gradually clawed my way out of the quicksands of survival mode, it started to become something that I could devote more brainpower to, and so I will. Because I do not have to rely on compliance anymore, I cannot be satisfied with tasks assigned and completed only in its name.

So I'm resolving to take time and energy to figure out ways to maximize connections with students through my content.

CONTENT

I was overall pleased with my students' performance as far as communication skills last semester. I liked the focus on how and why students could use Spanish in their lives and how we were able to bring it back to the stated purpose at the end.

I do not like how things got all muddled in the middle. I lost hold of some worthwhile strategies and tools that I just couldn't--DIDN'T--keep connected.

So this year I'm looking for a uniting purpose for Spanish II (since obviously we're not starting in the same place as Spanish I). I'm looking for something that connects the content to the students, but also to life beyond academics, and that connects within itself, too. And to that end, I'm not only spending the remaining free hours of my break meditating on how to rehook the juniors I've hardly seen since early sophomore year, but I'm also resolving to build in more space for reflection, time for follow-up on feedback, and opportunities to apply understanding.

Language and learning are about connecting with others, with your world, with yourself. I want to tap back into that purpose in more intentional, more structured, and more meaningful ways.

So in 2017 I resolve to connect.

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