Saturday, January 23, 2016

Why We Learn Spanish

I thought I would spend my substitute teaching year trying all different subjects and grades. However, when I was asked to stay at a school which needs someone until March, I accepted. The teachers I have met have a hard line against having their free time exploited, refusing to take on uncompensated or minimally compensated extra duties, and insisting on taking their duty free lunch breaks. I am new enough and inexperienced enough that I am spending hours every day trying to get myself up to speed.

I supervise the kids at most of their electives, but one is designated prep time for me. It is at the end of the day on Friday, so I don't need the time to photocopy things or review my lesson plan. However, because the other teachers consider prep sacrosanct, I was taking it anyway.

 Last week my charges terrorized each other during my prep period so I offered to supervise them this week. While I was there I looked around and realized how lucky I was to get to sit in on a Spanish lesson. Prior to yesterday, if someone asked me to teach Spanish at a 65% English Language Learner school I would cry. (Not that I would sign up for it, but sometimes the listing is wrong. I have been put into a PE class before.) But now I know the secret to teaching 32 children with probably 10 different levels of fluency and 10 reading levels is to have them make duolingo accounts and take assessments.

In addition to attending Spanish to help the students settle in, I prepped them right before class. I vaguely planned all day to discuss Why We Learn Spanish but I made it all the way to the portable before I actually did it. Getting them to make a circle on the playground is hard and some were running and playing instead of listening to their classmates, so I asked the boys for a ball to use as a talking tool. They came up with a full size football. I had my purse and binder under my arm- the ground was wet so I couldn't set anything down- so I needed it lobbed to me. The children had to retrieve it when it fell through my hands, but it attracted the attention of the wayward ones. We answered two questions, "Why do we learn Spanish?" and "Where do people speak Spanish?" And honestly it was so sweet.

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