Even a teacher who’s been in the classroom for 6 years has only started the school year a maximum of 6 times, and there’s a good chance that none of those years began the same way. That’s not a lot of practice!
As annual amnesia sets in, I do a LOT more scripting, thinking, planning, confusing, etc. all at the start of the year. If Kids lose knowledge after 3 months; teachers lose flow. In fact, I just posted a video to the Latin Best Practices Facebook group sharing how I ended up stuck one day during some Total Physical Response (TPR) I’ve been using as brain breaks. Naturally, I’m more aware of my teaching since there hasn’t been enough time for anything to stack up, so I’ve been thinking about the start to this year…
The first class of the year when teachers met students was scheduled to be one of those non-class meet & greets, but I ended up using my 12min really well and got into the flow. How?
There’s no coincidence that those happen to be my classroom rules. However, this was the first time I began—BEGAN—a year by looking into the eyes of every student who wasn’t purposely avoiding looking at me (whom I gave their space because, well, the first day of high school is probably terrifying; I have no memory of it myself).
I looked for signs of incomprehension, and I looked at the posters I had set up. I looked at the words I was pointing to (not the target language, but English, because I was already saying the target language and they needed meaning). I listened for responses. I listened for silence. I listened for clues about personality, and listened to questions. No joke—one kid asked “so does -ī mean plural?” This has been one of the only grammar-noticing questions I’ve received in about 2 years, so you could imagine my surprise, so I paused, looked at the board, then back at the student, said “yes,” and then moved on. I asked questions, in English, about the Latin, checking comprehension. I asked if anyone knew when class was going to end.
I’ve never made such a strong connection with students so soon, even with the ones I knooooooow are going to be a handful at times. This good start to the year has persisted through 5 early dismissal heat days (yep, now NE apparently has to deal with these in addition to snow days) out of the 9 total so far. In fact, if my classes were organized differently, I’d probably be freaking out. However, because of the flexibility in planning the Universal Language Curriculum (ULC) allows, I get to focus on input, interaction, and the students themselves.