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by Erica Fischer on Sep 7, 2017

Beginning the School Year in a World Language Classroom

#Langchat teachers gathered once again last Thursday to collaborate and converse about strategies and advice for conquering that first day back to school.

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Day 1 Essentials

#Langchat teachers shared some key techniques and activities to making the first day back in the classroom a success. On day one, create “some form of plan that allows you to get to know something about your students and generates excitement about your course,” suggested @MadameHeadleyPH. From the beginning, lower the “affective filter,” the term for the emotions toward the learning experience, because anxious students are not ready for langauge acquisition. “Get [students] excited and confident that they can learn a [foreign language]- reassure them that they can do it!” (@Marishawkins).  @marthaca82 finds that “establishing a welcoming classroom culture” is important. Day one can be used as a “beginning to form solid foundations for relationships with [students]! Also, ‘expectations’ can be established for [teachers] and [students]” (@SrtaOlson). @Srta_Zeiner said, “I find that using the target language from the second they walk through the door is key!”

Establishing Rapport with New Students

Establishing rapport with students can build trust, confidence, and create a safe learning environment. @BThompsonEdu shared, “make it really basic those first days to build confidence. Make it comprehensible. Smile.” According to @SrtaOlson, “celebrating their small wins, being eager and excited to help them, learning of their personal interests and following up” can build rapport. Getting to know students individually is helpful, whether they’re in elementary, middle, high school, or beyond. @MlleSulewski said, “I like to chitchat while taking attendance. Ask ‘How’s your first day going? Did you have a good summer? What are you looking forward to?’” When teachers are transparent and real with students, learners feel more at ease in the classroom. “I like to tell them a bit about myself, my family, etc. They can see I am a real person. Be yourself from the beginning,” said @kkeefe_hassan. @MmeSraResch agreed and said, “tell them non-school related things about [yourself]. Talk about their activities. All in [the target language] of course!”

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What ‘Old’ Practices Will You use This School Year?

#Langchat teachers reflected on the ‘old’ practices they used in the past that will continue to be helpful in the new school year, especially related to curriculum and implementing best practices.

  •   @MlleSulewski shared, “I am really hoping to continue incorporating CI & TPRS techniques with my ‘big kids.’”
  •   @nathanlutz plans to continue using “lots of humor and music” with the children in his elementary classes. He will also continue “working [his] tail off to keep it all comprehensible and real. [There will be] lots of comprehension checks.”
  •   @EspanolTeacher will use “reflection journals for interpersonal activities based on ACTFL descriptors. Game changer for me last year!”
  •   @Rdene915 will also be getting back into the routine of playing music when [students] come in; let them dance a bit and have fun.”

What ‘New’ Practices Will You use this School Year?

#Langchat teachers also shared some new practices they hope to implement in their World Language classes this school year.

  •   @Mmeshep shared that she will be “working on closing the feedback loop by having students self-assess, respond to feedback and set goals.”
  •   @Alenord wants to rely more on familiarity in her Spanish classes this year.  She’ll “avoid adding too much new to the plate…. Going to dig in my tool box and enhance use of tools I have now.”
  •   @Ogmsespanol said, “TPRS!!!! I’m a 9th year teacher who has JUST NOW heard of this. Started [yesterday] on day one and I already love it!!”
  •   @Profeashley wants to have “more free reading time” in her classroom.
  •   @ginlindzey will use, “more focused & meaningful ‘tasks’ for addressing speaking/listening/writing proficiencies in Latin.”

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Self Care

It is important for teachers to be mindful of the ways they can care for themselves amidst the busyness of a new school year. For example, @MllesrtaUrso plans on “going to the gym, setting aside time for reading every night and having a cup of tea before bed.” @SraWilliams3 shared, “I will take my time away from work and be present with my family & myself.” @MmeSraResch creatively plans to enjoy “one ‘for myself’ activity per month…alone! For example, get a facial, haircut, massage, or even just a cup of coffee at coffee shop.” In order to care for others, teachers must first care for themselves.

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Thank You

A special thank you to our lead moderators, Colleen (@CoLeeSensei) and Elizabeth (@SraDentlinger) for starting off a new round of #langchat strong. Thank you to all #Langchat teachers who participated. If you have a topic or idea you would like to discuss, please check out our #langchat wiki to make a suggestion. See you next week!

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Erica Fischer
Erica is the founder and CEO of Calico Spanish. Her passion for teaching her own children to speak Spanish led her to create Calico Spanish. Our mission is to give all children the opportunity to learn to speak real Spanish for life.

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