The first month of 2017 has given me a lot to think about as a teacher. At my school, students change schedules at the semester, so I might have students who had a different teacher first semester. I got A LOT of new faces at semester change, and lost a lot of faces at semester change. However, the change has given me the opportunity to refine some things I was doing semester one, and implement things in semester 2. So here are some things that I've decided to focus on:
- Classroom Management. My class is still noisy, but it's changed from a bad noisy to a good, productive noisy... Well most of the time anyway. I feel that this semester, I've been finding my groove with classroom management. The distinction between being a jerk, and being firm in order to control class has always been something that I've struggled with. While I don't quite have complete control over that quite yet, it's much better. This started with discussing class expectations EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
In short, the expectations I posted are: Listen/Read with intent to understand, stop me if I'm incomprehensible, only talking when addressed as individual or as a class, look like you're paying attention, be respectful, and be interesting. I think my students were starting to recite my spiel with me because they were hearing it so much. I think starting the class with the expectations was a game changer for me. And I will continue to review expectations.
- Enhancing Comprehensiblity. Last semester I did an awful job checking for comprehension. I did not do NEARLY enough comprehension checks.. I am ashamed of myself when I look back. Students aren't good at letting teachers know if they don't understand something. Even with me asking students to use our stop signal, they don't always do it. So I try to change that, instead of relying on students to stop me when they don't understand, I try to rely on students telling me when they DO understand. I ask a yes/no question to the class. I only hear 5 out of 28 voices. I slow WAY down. To an unbearable slowness until students ALL answer. It's helping me enhance comprehensibility because I'm getting more feedback on what is comprehensible and what is not.
- Textivate. I am loving textivate this semester. I'm using it to supplement class and give more for the fast processors/4%ers to do when they're getting bored. I'm still figuring out which activities are best for students when we do a story. But it's helping me get the vocab from the book to students in a more interesting way. Even if they don't retain the vocab in the long run, at least they've been introduced to the vocabulary that I have a hard time delivering through CI.
- Customization/Personalization. I'm trying to get better at making class more compelling. That is, I created a story with a class the other day and I was engaging students I have NEVER engaged before. It was magical. I need to do more PQA to find out what is truly compelling to some other students. That's when customization and or personalization comes into play. Terry Waltz talks a lot about customization and personalization in her book TPRS with Chinese Characteristics, which is a great read for any language teacher, not just Chinese.
TL;DR I want to work on classroom management, do more comprehension checks, use textivate more effectively, and be more compelling to more students.