So I thought my lesson today was going to be awesome, until I taught it and it wasn’t. Perhaps the anticipation made the subsequent failing all the worse? Pride goeth before a fall, and whatnot…
Anywhere, my goal was “I can describe my personality,” and for my fast processors, “I can describe someone else’s personality.” So I was presenting personality adjectives, and not being something readily illustratable or TPR-able (on first thought), I went with an idea I saw on the Creative Language Class awhile back – sorting the vocab words into meaningful categories. So I assembled a vocab list on quizlet, printed flashcards, and planned the different ways we would sort our words.
I even had a Wordle projected on the board as they came into the room:
Problem #1: Too complicated to explain in the target language.
But I had to ask them in English what they understood in the word cloud…how do you check comprehension without L1? Please, wise language teachers, educate me. But back to Spanish for the sorting activity, yes? Because clasifica is a cognate, and they know comprendo/no comprendo – but I gave instructions in Spanish, and they didn’t get what I wanted them to do. So I told them in English. And they did it…but then I wanted them to sort again, but they didn’t quite get it, so I switched to English, again. And again. And by 7th period, it was 90% English, with the only input coming from the cards. *facepalm*
Problem #2: Poor timing, poor transitions
This one I actually was able to rectify throughout the day (I teach the same lesson 5 times) – I realized that I was moving on too quickly, while some students were still engaged in the current task. I also realized that I needed to be very clear with instructions about the activity up front. Solution: give detailed instructions explaining the WHOLE activity as we begin it, more wait time, observe where my students are in the process (don’t rush it because it “feels” like it’s been long enough), and do a transition between each round of classification.
After Opposites – ran through flashcards on quizlet with both English and Spanish showing, and asked students for the opuesto (en español, por favor).
After Soy/No soy (I am, I’m not) – turn to your partner and say a sentence starting with Soy and a sentence starting with No soy
After un buen/mal profesor and un novio excelente/terrible – discuss, write adjectives on board, then point to each word I’ve written and have students translate. I also gave them sentence starters for a quick speaking break with their partner.
Problem #3: Asking for production of new words before they have audio input.
So when I was asking for them to say the opposites of each adjective, en español? Terrible pronunciation…and entirely my fault, because while they were getting input from the flashcards, it was only reading input, and they had maybe heard each word once or twice. Once I realized this, I ran through the cards on Quizlet and had them repeat, but honestly, I should have known better and planned to introduce with audio input.
Problem #4: Should have picked the target vocab better.
In the set of flashcards, I included Soy and Es, plus some adjectives for physical descriptions (tall, short, pretty, etc). I wish I hadn’t done that, and rather had focused purely on personality adjectives. It was confusing for some of the categorizations, like opuestos, because many of the words didn’t have an opposite. Furthermore, they know appearance adjectives pretty well, and it probably would have been better to give them fewer flashcards to work with (I gave them 30….but in my defense, half or 2/3 were already familiar or cognates). Perhaps if I had been more careful in choosing the words, I would have had more success in giving instructions in the target language.
TeachThought‘s Reflection topic for day 15: Name three strengths you have as an educator.
Honestly, I wasn’t feeling very strength-y this afternoon. Today ended up being very whack-a-mole-y (with discipline and classroom management – that’s what I get for a poorly planned lesson), and I was exhausted and frustrated. But then I read reflections from some other world language teachers:
And thought, oh, me too – yes, I’m good at that too – oh, yes, that sounds like me – over and over (except the part about being super organized, haha. I’m with Señora Spanglish on that one, over there in “still developing” organizational skills! ). And I decided that a bad teaching day does not make me a bad teacher, and the humility to recognize and learn from a failed lesson is a strength in itself. So my three strengths:
1. Reflection – I learn from my mistakes (see above).
2. Resourcefulness – I cannot do everything on my own, I cannot plan engaging, CI, proficiency-based lessons all on my own, and I’m not a Spanish-English dictionary and cannot answer every ¿Cómo se dice…? inquiry instantly, on the spot. However, I’m aware of my limitations, and I know how to find help – on the internet, with my colleagues next door, and in my online blogging, pinning, and tweeting PLN.
3. Growth mindset – for myself and my students. I’m not where I want to be as an educator, but I’m working in the right direction. Mastery is an asymptote, and learning to teach is a life-long pursuit.
6 thoughts on “Today my lesson was dreadful + Reflecting on my strengths? #reflectiveteacher Day 15”
This was my day yesterday as well! That and a little temper tantrum on the part of the teacher (oops) made it a pretty awful day for reflecting on strengths, but we probably both needed to think about what we’re good at!
Boy does this sound familiar! Glad you got to end it with a reflection on what you’re GREAT at!
On checking comprehension without English:
Maybe the problem comes from how you phrase the question? I can ask “what do you understand” from students in higher levels but at this level I’d break it down word by word -connected to your problem #3- going through all the vocabulary: ¿Creativo? ¿Comprendes creativo? (looking for thumbs-up) ¿Quién comprende creativo? (more thumbs-up) ¿Quién es creativo? Pues, Picasso era muy creativo. Yo NO soy muy creativa. Steve Jobs era muy creativo. J.K. Rowling es muy creativa. ¿Quién aquí es muy creativo? (column on the board, headed “creativo,” writing names under) Y J.K. Rowling también es muy TALENTOSA (new column talentosa), a ver, ¿quién más es talentosa?
Lots of simple language, lots of questions, lots of introducing vocabulary in such a way that your questions automatically check comprehension.
Hope this helps! Keep teaching for me! 😉
Thank you, thank you, thank you! That helps! You are such a blessing to me 🙂
Just reflecting in this way in general makes you super successful! You have such great ideas; keep on trucking!
Thank you for your HONEST reflection. I need to do more of this, because a lot of days it is not as rosy as well all make it out to be! I just added your blog to my bloglovin feed!
Love your reflection. You have highlighted how important it is to go slower. I often think “it’s a cognate, they will pick it up right away.” Going slower and modeling more is a lesson I have to remember each day; and teach less vocabulary. TPRS teachers are great at using the slower processors for speed and comprehension checks. I need to learn patience and how to explain better in the TL. I have been teaching 7 years but CI/proficiency focused–4 years? My proficiency level in CI teaching— somedays is IM high, somedays Novice mid depending on lesson/class, but I am always willing to try new things.