Monday, June 17, 2013

Next year

In the fall, my TPRS colleague and I were attacked at a curriculum meeting by the three high school teachers.  It was a really poorly-handled situation that could have been a compromise situation if the hs teacher didn't think that 1: they were right, 2:we were wrong, and 3: they had the authority to manage what we do in our classrooms.  I was so thankful for my colleague (only in her 2nd year of teaching) for speaking so eloquently and doing a phenomenal job of defending the theories and practices behind TPRS.  She is brilliant and I'm so glad to know her!  Anywho, in the spring, there was a job opening at a school ten minutes from my house, as opposed to my current job, which is 45 minutes away.  I was very conflicted about applying, but I figured that I would put it God's hands, and I filled out the application.  I struggled: "Do I want this job?  It's a high school, and I've heard that high schools are kind of lonely and departmentalized...  I would be teaching 5 preps?!  Oh no, I'll have to go back to school and get 8 more hours of grad credit?!  What's IB?  Etc..."  I talked to everyone about it.  My sister's boyfriend told me that I should do it for the growth experience.  My husband wanted me to work closer to home.  My colleagues, who knew the situation, said that I shouldn't have to deal with the hs crap.

And then this happened: the morning of my interview, I got an email from a friend who works at the hs.  She said that the hs French teachers were conducting a "research project" to compare the abilities of TPRS students vs. non-TPRS students and they found negative results for my students.  Not very surprising since the test that I'm assuming they used for their study is the French 2 pre-test that is multiple-choice, fill in the correct form of the verb, with no context or anything beyond grammar-babble.  So God came through and sent me a VERY clear message.  I went into that interview and rocked it!  Sure enough, I was offered the job.  Hooray for me!  Oh no, there was a problem...I was excited, but my rock-star colleague looked abandoned.  I tried to be excited, but I was so sad to be leaving her in a toxic situation by herself.  But wait! What's this?!  There's ANOTHER French position at my new district?!  She got that position and now we are both going to work in a TPRS-friendly district together!

It's been a bit overwhelming so far.  From the moment we were hired, we have been in on all the curriculum emails, meetings, etc.  We just finished a 40-hour (paid) week working with our other French colleagues to write curriculum for next year.  That was drinking from the fire hose, for sure.  But I feel so hopeful for the next year!  We will be able to collaborate once a week on our classes!  One of my new colleagues (who was also my cooperating teacher when I student-taught) is so encouraging!  Because of her, we are presenting at a conference in the fall.  It is so uplifting to hear positive responses to ideas instead of, "But how do you teach verbs charts?" in an accusatory manner.

I'm so excited!!

End-of-the-year Reflections

Another year under my belt.  I wonder if I will ever feel comfortable with what I've done...I hope not!  I want to keep improving and growing as a teacher.  This year I tried a lot of new things: Movie talk, embedded writing/reading, improv games, etc.  I still feel like I need to do a better job of circling to get my structures in there.  I'm getting better at recycling those structures in later stories, but I need to practice parallel stories and really focusing on the structures instead of the plot.  But MAN, we had some good stories this year.  This year, I did a better job of using actors.  I found some great students who were quiet in their seats, but sparkled in front of the class.  It was awesome to see.  This year, I got to see what a second year student can do after two years of TPRS study.  It was pretty cool, too.  My 4%ers were conjugating verbs like crazy and not even realizing what they were doing.  The lightbulbs were going off during pop-ups.  I even had a student start taking French 3 at the high school with a grammar queen and she was successful!  It was a good year...despite being attacked by the high school teachers.  More on that later....