Joli Jeudi

Hey everyone! I hope you’re having a great week!

I thought that this year, with my focus on positivity, I’d start posting on “joli jeudi,” where I share some “pretty” awesome things that happened this week (my adjective of choice right now is “beautiful,” so it’s fitting!)

  1. I love my schools and my department! They’ve been so great, welcoming, helpful, and hilarious this past week and I can’t wait to learn and grow more with them
  2. Sharing the crêpe/taco sheet with students and colleagues. My students did so well describing “school” and describing movies. Then, I got to share with several colleagues who loved it and got to share with their classes, too!
  3. My students’ enthusiasm. “Can we learn a lot of French today?” “I want to speak to people in France!” “Je favori sport es basketball” – that one was from a student who only asked about a couple of words! What an excitement to learn!
  4. Technology! Man. Being 1:1 devices is AMAZING. I love it so much. The things I can do in and out of the classroom, as well as the great things my students put together … I can’t explain how great it is.
  5. Traveling. When I tell people that I’m a traveling teacher, they tell me that they’re sorry, but so far, it’s wonderful. I like seeing the outside, changing locations, and meeting phenomenal teachers across several buildings! We’ll talk about this again when the snow hits! ;]

What were some great or positive things that have happened to you this week? I’ve love to hear about them!

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First week reflection and resources

Whew. Only two days into the school year and I’m feeling a ton of different emotions! Sometimes I feel like no matter how much I plan, I always start the school year “behind.” Instead of focusing on that, I’d like to share a bit with all of you.

Successes from the first week:

  • My school rolled out 1:1 MacBooks at the HS level this year, and on day one I got to give an introduction to class using Nearpod and students gave me immediate feedback. My favorite part? I let them type out any questions they had. This way, I could read their question and answer it out loud, but no one had to raise their hand and ask a “silly” question on the first day of class!
    • I got to use my other school toy – an iPad mini, so I could circulate the room and help students understand on day 1 that my class has no “front”
  • I did a Prezi about myself 100% in French, and lots of kids told me they understood everything! :]
  • One of my French 1 students counted from 1 to 20 PERFECTLY the second day of class – he apparently learned it before – but it was an amazing leap to count in front of everyone before we even learned it. (Counting is part of this “seek and sign” that I do from Creative Language Class

Deltas (I’ll be using deltas this year in my effort to keep my language positive!):

  • Now that I have my bearings, I need to step up my classroom management for my middle schoolers in week 2.
  • I need to remember that not every student will be as tech savvy as me! Slow down the tech directions!

Next, I created some resources for the first week that I mentioned in my First week tentative plans post.

Stations: I solidified what I wanted to do for these stations, and made station cards à la CLC. I’m excited to use them for short “administrative” tasks this week to get students used to stations. My school is implementing a lot of station rotation practices this year, so I’m hoping this can get students in the station groove ASAP! As for my station printouts, I would share them with all of you here, but I don’t want to step on any toes – the CLC cards are a paid resource, and I’d prefer to get their permission before putting them out there.

Interactive syllabus: I told everyone I’d share this with you, and honestly, I almost didn’t because it’s so underwhelming. But, if you’re interested in seeing my French 2 interactive syllabus, you can view it here. I actually had to add some more information because I realized in retrospect that my infographic didn’t cover it all. You can see what else I’ve included (adapted from Colleen) in this FAQ

Prezi: If you’re interested in the Prezi that I adapted from Allison at Mis Clases Locas, you can view my version here. I tried to avoid words unless they were cognates, since the spelling of French can confuse students at first. Vowels, anyone?

Crêpe talk: You’ve probably seen Sara-Elizabeth’s taco talk over at Musicuentos, and this year, she included both the Intermediate talk, AND the French Crêpe talk! I had the honor of collaborating with her on the Intermediate version, and gave my thoughts on the Novice version. Hopefully you can use them to explain proficiency this year!

Well, that’s all I’ve got for today, but I hope to share more resources this year, instead of just my thoughts! I hope you’re all having a great back-to-school season!

Let’s be positive

As we’re ready to head back to school, and some of you already have, I’ve seen my fellow bloggers sharing tons of resources for the beginning of the year. While I’ve got parent letters, seating chart outlines, rules and expectations, and the like, I decided to share something different with all of you today.

The one thing that I can give you this school year is a pledge to stay positive. Veteran teachers everywhere will tell you that in a school building, it’s easy to get sucked into the negativity that lurks beneath the surface – under the smiling faces, behind closed doors, and bursting out of the teacher’s lounge. Don’t get me wrong – not every colleague that you encounter is a black hole, ready to suck you into their universe of negativity. But it’s there and I’d love to help you avoid it. And some schools are worse than others. I just happened to start my career in a school on the lowest end.

As a background, at my last school, I fell into a rhythm. I had colleagues that I considered to be close friends, and others that I didn’t engage because nothing they told me was helpful. But, almost without realizing, every interaction I was having with even close colleagues was SO negative – “I can’t believe that X,” “Or you’ll never believe what [student] did today.” And at first, I wasn’t the one that was negative. I got to hear my colleagues struggles in the classroom, their emails with angry parents, their altercations with students. It starts out so harmless, but then I felt like I needed to contribute. Like, to make my friend/colleague feel better, I also had to share something negative. It united us; it made them feel like they weren’t alone. And then one day, it consumed me. I hated it, and I knew that I had to extract myself from the situation as soon as possible.

So if you have colleagues that are excessively negative, here’s my advice:

  1. Keep walking. You’ll have colleagues that want to stop you in the halls, and they’ll want to talk for a long time. Just give them a greeting and keep going. Chances are, you’re busy, and they should understand that.
  2. Avoid the teacher’s lounge. This is a cliché that reigns true. If you need a place to eat your lunch (please don’t eat it at your desk – you deserve a break!), by all means, check it out. But if you find that it’s all “shop talk” and complaining, then find a better place to spend your off time.
  3. Smile and give them encouragement. Some teachers just want to be heard. Let them vent once in awhile, but don’t make a habit of it. Many will turn down any advice that you give them, so just tell them that you hope the next day, period, week will be better.
  4. Turn to twitter. Chances are, you found my blog because you’re already on twitter. I’ve heard it said before, and I’ll say it again: the negative teachers AREN’T on twitter (none of my old colleagues are, either.) You can find colleagues with whom to share ideas, advice, and ask questions on twitter. They’ll be realistic about their tough days, but they stay positive. They were more helpful than my real life colleagues, on many levels.

If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. If you’re a new teacher, I recommend reading this article on What Ellen wished she’d known as a new teacher. It wasn’t until I found that article that I knew things could get better somewhere else. Once I knew that my old school was not the place for me, I was able to see what was happening, and make strides to be more positive.

I hope to share general encouragement and to be positive this year. Maybe I’ll start a hashtag.

Update: I’d also recommend reading this article by Jennifer over at Cult of Pedagogy, even if you’re not a first year teacher: Find your Marigold