New level/new subject/mid-year!

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Miss MA, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. Miss MA

    Miss MA Rookie

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    Feb 17, 2013

    The triple whammy!

    I have recently returned to teaching after relocating to a new state four years ago and doing a different job for those years. My experience is primarily with fifth grade, but a local high school teacher wanted to lock me in to teach English next year, so he offered me a position teaching Spanish until the end of this year.

    Well, I thought I could manage staying a little ahead of the students in lessons, even though it's been years since I took Spanish in college, but I'm finding that I feel extremely insecure and uncomfortable attempting to do that. A foreign language requires a proficiency that I just don't have. I've been fairly honest with the kids and willing to admit there are things I don't know or remember, and have to look up, trying to show them that everyone can learn if they just try.

    I took over for a long-term sub, who'd been with them for about a month and taught them nothing except to forget the classroom discipline the previous teacher had instilled. I'm also finding it much more difficult to manage high school kids than I felt with fifth graders.

    So, my discomfort is really three-fold -- dropped into undiciplined classes at mid year and attempting both to teach them something, working around their significant Spanish language gaps, and manage behavior, as well as learn the ways of older, very large kids!

    Trying to manage it all with humor and patience but I'm not sleeping much and I feel like throwing up most of the time. My lessons are boring because I am too dependent upon the textbook, which doesn't help improve the behavior of the many rude, lazy, and nearly impossible to connect with students.

    Any advice? I think clearly I made a big mistake, but I need the job.
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Feb 18, 2013

    This is a clear case of why we should only take jobs that we are competent in the subject matter. Hopefully next year you will be able to move into a more competent subject area.

    You can definitely make Spanish more enjoyable. What level of Spanish are you teaching or having the most difficulty with?
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 18, 2013

    EEEK. Does the HS teacher who wants to 'lock you in' for next year really have any say in who gets hired? Hard to imagine that a candidate struggling in a long term sub job would be a lock for a job next year:sorry:
    My only advice would be to get together with another Spanish teacher in your building to plan. It's unfair to the students to have had two teachers this year who haven't been able to teach the content as it should be taught.:2cents:
     
  5. Miss MA

    Miss MA Rookie

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    Feb 18, 2013

    I should have said "principal." It is the principal what wanted to hire me for next year as an English teacher (which I am qualified to teach), and thinking I might get a short-term job somewhere else and then sign a contract for next year, he offered me the Spanish job.

    It's Spanish II. I can manage teaching the grammar, but conversationally I am weak. The poor kids have had two interrupted years now, as their teacher last year died mid-year, and this year's teacher moved at the end of December.

    It's a mess for them. My goals are to teach them basics of vocabulary, conjugations, and simple sentence construction in a couple of different tenses, and help them finish the course. I'm looking for some fun and engaging activities to extend the dry textbook material.
     
  6. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Feb 18, 2013

    There are lots of ways to make vocabulary more fun! Can you check out a computer lab or laptop cart? The students could make simulations for different vocabulary words. You could have the students take pictures of different vocabulary and make a student slide show. Students could act out the words. The list can go on and on.

    Even if you are weak conversationally, you can have your students talk. Maybe they can do presentations on something you are learning in Spanish. You could write up the basics of a few questions and sentence starters for having a conversation.

    My English students love a game called Hot Seat. We would put one or two students in the hot seat. Then the other students could ask them questions (kind of like an interview).

    Another idea might be to give the students a prompt or task, then they can act it out for their peers in Spanish. Their peers try to guess what they are acting.

    Maybe turn conjugations into a team race of some kind. You could have the students work in groups to conjugate a handful verbs or sentences when they first come into the classroom, then write their answers on the board.
     
  7. Miss MA

    Miss MA Rookie

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    Feb 18, 2013

    Thanks for those suggestions. I will try them out. Tomorrow I plan to go over direct object pronouns, let them practice in groups (they love that), and then play a quick review game of conjugating regular verbs in the preterite. I have another little game planned Wednesday (I think) and then I'm going to ask them to write some dialogues or skits. They love to talk so much, let's put it to good use!

    I find teaching high schoolers exhausting, especially lacking confidence in myself. They capitalize on it. Most of them are sweet, but some are vicious. I can't stand the sneaky cell phone stuff, and I struggle against the prevailing attitude of not being willing to work, not doing homework, rudely interrupting me and their classmates. Classroom management is difficult, and every day each class seems to be different than I expect (sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad). It's all very unpredictable.
     
  8. vivalavida

    vivalavida Companion

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    Feb 20, 2013

    There are TONS of blogs out there by Spanish teachers. They might give you a lot of ideas that are more fun and engaging than textbook work. For starters, check out The Creative Language Class. Lots of fun suggestions there that might get some ideas going for you. Best of luck!
     
  9. Miss MA

    Miss MA Rookie

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    Feb 21, 2013

    Thank you, vivalavida. I will check them out.
     
  10. Ms.SLS

    Ms.SLS Cohort

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    Feb 21, 2013

    Don't let them get to you. Remember when you were a teenager? Life was so up and down - sometimes you HATED teachers for no reason, and then realized the next day that you over reacted. Also, there are the kids who feed on teachers' weaknesses... little darlings.. :lol: Just keep at it - most of them will at least appreciate the effort you are putting in to making the class more interesting.
     
  11. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Feb 21, 2013

    I took four years of Spanish in high school and loved every minute. Although I already knew Spanish prior to entering high school, I managed to learn quite a bit about grammar and literature.

    I had the same teacher for Spanish II, Spanish III Honors, and A.P. Spanish IV, yet we never got tired of her because she always made things fun. In Spanish II, we did quite a bit of skits. For example, I clearly remember doing a skit about being in a restaurant and having to order food. It was so much fun because we made little props and even created our own Spanish menus.

    That same year, we also created posters that listed our daily routine. We presented them to the class and my teacher displayed them throughout the room.

    Oh...I also remember having a mock job interview in Spanish (we did this in small groups).

    Wow...I'm really taking a trip down memory lane. As you can tell, I really liked my Spanish teacher!
     
  12. Miss MA

    Miss MA Rookie

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    Feb 24, 2013

    Thank you, all who have responded. I appreciate your input.

    The board votes on my contract this week. I am sick of feeling sick and anxious, and seriously considering pulling out of the deal prior to the board's vote. We have two weeks until a week's vacation and then a new term begins. They could get someone else until the end of the year.

    Except that money and benefits hang in the balance. Not sure if they really balance out how much I detest this job, though.
     
  13. Furthuron

    Furthuron Companion

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    Feb 25, 2013

    As for the talking/disruptions, I had my first teaching job in a similar situation (although at least it was in my subject matter), but the kids were undisciplied from their previous teacher, and they LOVED to talk. We were reading a novel, and instead of leading the discussion myself, I had the kids partner up and peer teach their chapter. The class was much more quiet for their peers than they were for me. It sounds like it will be a long semester, but you just have to do what you can while you can for these kids.

    Good luck!
     

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