AKA: What I wish I'd had when I first became a teacher
Maestra's Personal Rant About Becoming a Teacher & Hating It
When I first became a teacher, it was awful. I didn't feel adequately trained or equipped. I was overwhelmed by the million variables that teaching involves, not to mention I was in a rough, urban district, without my own classroom (or even air conditioning in the hot, humid New England summers), carrying all my supplies with me from room to room (up and down three flights of stairs and across campus to other buildings). I was so stressed, sad, and overwhelmed all the time. I lost 15 pounds and my hair was falling out in clumps. I would wake up super early to get to school ahead of students to feel prepared, I would exhaust myself throughout the day, finally get home and want nothing more than to rest... but instead, I drove myself crazy trying to figure out what on earth my lesson plans would be for the next day for my nearly 200 students. Needless to say, I cried almost every day.
I wanted to be the best teacher I could possibly be. I wanted to reach each student and make them feel accepted and valued and loved while also learning Spanish (which many of them did NOT want to do). I was not well-enough prepared, and I while I had "mentoring" programs to "support" me, those programs involved extra work and evaluations and simply stressed me out even MORE.
Of course, I loved the hilarious and completely unpredictable interactions with my students that happened on the daily, and that is what kept me coming back each morning. Many of my coworkers were incredible people too, and a joy to be around. The relationships I built at that first school were like none other and I loved that aspect of the job. But honestly... that was about it.
I knew in my heart that I truly enjoyed creating quality lessons and resources for teachers, especially since from what I saw, they were so hard to come by. The school had a ton of old textbooks that I was expected to use, but I just couldn't bring myself to use them because I knew how outdated and ineffective they were. Everything I'd learned in my teacher training (an accelerated certification course through the State Dept. of Ed., because World Language is a shortage area) seemed to go AGAINST the traditional methods of using textbooks and paper-pencil tests that most of my colleagues were using.
However, I did not have the time or the energy to design and develop all the awesome lesson ideas I had without putting my mental and physical wellbeing on the line.
Somehow, I scraped by those first few years anyway, and I learned a lot on the way. And I'm still learning! This website became a place for me to put all my learning and resources and thoughts into one place and hopefully, share with some other poor soul who is just starting the teaching journey.
Maestra's Rant About the COVID-19 Reopening Schools Bullsh*T
Now, in the throes of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, I seriously hoped that everyone would band together and make some awesome changes to our antiquated, inequitable, broken system. Now is the perfect opportunity for drastic change and improvement!
Our leaders, somehow, could not imagine an education system outside of brick and mortal schools, students in desks, teachers lecturing at the front of classrooms. Or maybe they have a political agenda, like so many are saying. Whatever the reason for such an embarrassing lack of creativity, despite the majority of us voicing our concerns and awesome ideas, teachers have been largely and unforgivably ignored in the conversations.
So now, I honestly wish they would fire me. I would feel relieved. I am ashamed to be a part of this system that refuses to make improvements that actually matter. But I also don't want to leave, because I invested so much time, suffering, training hours, college credits, and money. I feel too far in to make the drastic change that my heart really wants to make.
I love teaching. I want to teach. But I want to do it differently.
Maestra's final optimistic note?
Sorry, this item does not exist. I am seriously considering quitting my job and developing curriculum for teachers instead. That's why I'm making this page.
"Keys to Success"
I believe curriculum should first and foremost be immediatelyusable. Relevant to real-life experience. Fun (and funny!).
Secondly, it should be heavily based on authentic language from native speakers.
Teacher Annabelle Allen (La Maestra Loca) summarizes the "Keys to Success" quite nicely:
Low Affective Filter
95% Target Language
I pretty much live by these same principals in my own teaching practice.
Here a few other amazing resources that have similar approaches: - Creative Language Class (and their curriculum - Adiós Textbook) - Mis Clases Locas - Fluency Matters (creators of Garbanzo and SOMOS)
Also, by the way, you don't need a ton of tech to learn a new language... but it sure does help. I use a ton of awesome tech tools to teach students Spanish (and English), including: - Yabla - Edpuzzle - Quizlet - ¡Conjuguemos! - Duolingo - Google Classroom (our school is 1-1 with Chromebooks and we use GSuite)