Sunday, February 4, 2018

Listen to Your Teacher Heart Song

In February, when we're more than a month past the plentiful November, December, and January holidays, and spring break is not on the horizon yet, it can be easy to slip into the winter/February doldrums. When I sense that feeling creeping in, I know a sure cure is to re-visit the student successes, and even more important, to recognize and acknowledge the little happy events in every day. 

Last night I was having difficulty falling asleep last night, and that's when I started listing things that have made my heart sing in the last few days. Obviously, readers may or may not have experienced these same heart song worthy events, but hopefully by glancing over them, it will help remind YOU about the great things that have happened and continue to happen in your classroom in your role as a teacher and mentor.

1. Real World Application
Last week a student from the previous semester, walked up to me with a huge grin on her face. It was obvious she had something that she couldn't wait to tell me. She said at work there was a customer that didn't speak any English and she helped the lady, speaking only in Spanish with her. Real world application at its best.

2. Love of Reading
Thanks to Fluency Matters and their 12 Days of Christmas give-aways, I won two e-courses for my Spanish students. I enrolled my Spanish 4 students for the e-course of the novel La hija del sastre and asked my students to become familiar with the platform. In a few days, one of the students stayed after class and asked if I could upload more books online for her to read. How refreshing is that?!!! I have at least one copy of every Fluency Matters book in my class library, but since this student likes the convenience of reading online, I may have to order a few more online courses for her and surprise her with them. 

3. Declaring Spanish as a Major
Late last year I learned that one of my students that graduated in June 2017, decided to double major in college, one of those majors being Spanish. He stopped in over break and chatted with me about his newly declared major and his plans after college. 

To make this day sweeter, other former Spanish students, that were visiting the school during their winter break to talk with students in a chemistry class, popped in to say hello. So great to see those smiling faces again!

4. Future Spanish Teachers
Another one of my former students that graduated 4 (?) years ago, returned to my class to share about her semester in Chile. How cool is that to have a former student return and actually teach the class? One or two more semesters and she'll be certified to teach Spanish. 

5. Building Class Community
In Spanish 4, I ask my students is to upload a photo of themselves to a Google Slide presentation at the beginning of a semester. I love learning what's important to my students from the photos they choose to upload. I use these photos when we have our student interviews and chat sessions. Photos make the conversation easier and more interesting. 

6. Parent and Teacher Teamwork
This may not be the one of the first things that comes to mind when reflecting on the highlights, but in my journey as a teacher, it becomes more apparent to how powerful the school-home connection is. Connecting with parents is time-consuming but I've already touched base with a dozen parents and the benefits are already evident.

7. Making Memories - Class Celebration
(one of my favorites) In January I brought back the Spanish celebration dinner, after more than an eight-year hiatus. The students and I enjoyed a home-cooked Spanish meal of chicken enchiladas, Spanish rice, empanadas, buñuelos, and other goodies, and then played a game to round off the evening.  Those memories are gold, and, to make the experience even better, I received some thank you emails from the parents.

8. Colleagues - Near and Far
I've said it before on this blog and I'll say it again, the support of my colleague Krista, is a constant reason for my teacher heart to sing. We mentor each other, challenge each other, and encourage each other. 
In addition to Krista is a network of teacher friends in my PLN throughout the United States. They are both my armor, my wings, and my inspiration.
All of these are things that make my teacher heart sing.
All of these are things that help offset the not so glorious days.
All of these are things other teachers experience, as I'm sure you could rapid-fire list yours also. 

Without a doubt, teaching provides teachers with great memories, but they're intertwined with days that are challenging and ones we'd rather not remember. We need to hold tight to the good memories. How? A super easy way to do that is to post photos of current and past students participating in class activities or even ones with YOU in the photo with them. Post those photos near your desk, on your desk, on the side of your desk, around the room, anywhere you can see them, as a constant reminder and a quick pick-me-up. You'll be thankful you did on those days that the end of the work day is your best friend.

A special thank you to Carrie Toth that always seems to know the right thing to say. ;)  

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