Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Year's end can be easy, if I let it

This has been the least stressful end to a school year I've ever enjoyed. It doesn't need to be difficult after all. I needed to realize two things:

First, I should give simple assessments. How easily can I gather information to show me that my students understand the target language? All they need is a passage on their level with some straightforward questions. The more complicated the project or test or whatever the more opaque the evidence becomes.

Second, I should stop planning in my pride to fix all the problems next year by preparing lots of materials over the summer. I don't need a worksheet for this, a web-quest for that, a new grammar handout, a new website, a new load of prompts for projects, new videos for my "struggling" students, a new homework policy, new classroom rules, new activities for this or that reading. I don't need any of it.

All my students need to learn the language is comprehensible and compelling input. I'll make sure the input is comprehensible by following all the protocols of Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS). I'll make sure the input is compelling by talking about my students with real interest in who they are in my heart. All of that will happen slowly and with a sense of joy and maybe a few smiles. What's scary about that? What do I need to prepare?

I used to schedule my summers so as to have such and such materials ready by such and such times. No more. Work smarter, not harder. I would spend two hours preparing a PowerPoint that would fill maybe thirty minutes of class time in one class period. No more. Now all I need is time to relax and dream of ways to talk to my kids about stuff they like. But how can I plan for that? I haven't even met my classes yet! It will all happen in good time.

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