Today was the last day of school and I feel as if I can finally breathe. This is my 4th year back as a high school teacher and my third in the classroom. This was a challenging year for everyone at my school and personally a difficult year for me. The words of my wise principal keep ringing in my ears "Reflect on your year, but remember the positives, don't remember the negative". So, I won't dwell on the negatives but I do want to touch on a few things that were difficult. I had some challenging parents but I am very proud of how I handled myself in the midst of those challenging situations. I taught 5 sections of Spanish 3 and 1with parents. So, here are my reflections of the 2013-2014 school year.
Highlights: 1) I started a Masters program.
It's been 24 years since I got my Bachelors degree and I finally decided to take the plunge and go back to school for my Masters. It was the best decision I could have done. Having gotten my certificate via the Critical Needs Certification Program, I always felt as if I had gaps in my training. When people talked about formative versus summative assessments or metacognition, I only had a vague idea of what the concepts meant. I also felt that an educator is nobody unless he/she has a Masters degree.
2) I learned and got training on the New National World Language Standards and it changed the way I teach.
In February I went to a workshop where I learned about the New Standards and realized that I had been teaching Spanish all wrong. The buzz words were proficiency and performance. So, I started switching my instructional practice from a vocabulary/grammar based approach to a proficiency based one. I think overall, the kids responded well and liked the proficiency approach. For example, to test them on the store/clothing unit, I created a store out and brought out dozens of authentic items. When we did the restaurant unit, kids ordered food (laminated pictures, but it was still fun) and they researched a country and a study abroad program. The one area that kids hated were the readings. They didn't like what I was asking them to do with the reading sand found it too hard. The other thing that was difficult for me was creating formative assessments that were proficiency based.
So, what are my plans for next year? Hopefully, I'll get some opportunities to do some PD with my Twitter peeps who have already been teaching with a proficiency based approach, so that I can re-write my curriculum and have an incredible year next year.