Will I get faster at planning?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by riverdance85, Sep 8, 2013.

  1. riverdance85

    riverdance85 Rookie

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    Sep 8, 2013

    I have been teaching for about one and a half years now and still feeling insecure about planning. I am wondering if I will get faster and better at planning activities? I feel like last year was good, but now I find myself thinking that my activities are boring. To help remedy this, I am constantly looking for new ideas and finding them. I am also scrapping old ideas that I know don't work.

    I am sluggish at this and find that planning is taking so much of my time. However, I have compiled a list of activities that I deem my 'tool box.' I keep it updated. So, am I on the right track in developing my planning skills?

    A second part to my question- Furthermore, I am teaching a second level class so many of my students I had last year and are bored with my style. What are your thoughts about my second level class? I am doing my best with this group to keep things fresh. My ones are brand new, so they haven't been exposed to my style of activities yet.

    As always, I thank you all for your support and input. I greatly value your answers and time! ¡Gracias!
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Sep 8, 2013

    Why do you think that your second level students are bored with your style?

    I teach four consecutive levels, and I often have students for at least two (usually three or four) of those levels. To my knowledge they aren't bored with my style. In fact, many of them have told me that they like having my class because it's sort of a constant and they like knowing exactly what to expect.
     
  4. riverdance85

    riverdance85 Rookie

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    Sep 8, 2013

    Hello!

    Well, to be honest, I that's how I'm reading them. Maybe because it's only been two weeks into the school year... I'm not sure. They have a bored look on their faces even though I am sure to show enthusiasm in presenting the boring materials.

    There are a few that have told me that my class was boring last year and there are others that are looking forward to note taking and worksheet practice that I usually did (not ALL of my activities were these; I used videos, conversations and games).

    This class is also a mix of different levels of achievers. I'm boring to the faster ones because I explain too much (because there are a few that have NO idea what's going on). I tell them that I am only trying to keep everyone on the same page and that they (the faster ones) should take advantage of me explaining things as a review. I'm also thinking about having to re-calibrate my lessons so that the faster ones are able to progress while the ones who are the most challenged are still getting the scaffolding that they need.

    Also- Spanish is not a popular subject at my school. That could also be a factor (although I do my best to make it interesting to them with culture).

    whew- thanks for bearing with me! I know I am typing a lot. :dizzy:
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Sep 8, 2013

    Remind me what subject you teach.

    I think that you might need to incorporate more differentiation. I also have classes with all sorts of performance levels. It's hard teaching to the middle while still carrying the lower students and challenging the higher ones.
     
  6. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Sep 8, 2013

    You'll definitely get better.
    This is my first year teaching, but I can easily compare student teaching (5 months), my LTS (9 months), last year in the same position I am in (2 months) and this year so far (1 month)

    Student teaching: spent hours and hours on planning. Planned out every minute, literally, so I wouldn't go over. Made notes to myself so I would know exactly what to do next, I was so afraid of forgetting and freezing up. That had gotten a little easier, after a few months, didn't need my notes, but still spent too long on planning. I made things too hard for myself, trying to be perfect and even better than that.

    LTS: in the beginning I spent too much time on planning, and I made things way too complicated for myself. I created my own tests, put way too much thought into them, just did everything with way too much consideration, thought, etc. It was exhausting. Didn't need notes to keep myself on track, maybe sometimes a list of activities so I woouldn't forget and run out of time. After about 3-4 months I cut down my planning to less than half. I'd spend a few hours over the weekend to plan and create my powerpoint, activities, etc, and then spend a little time here and there to add to it.

    Last year in my current classroom: continued from my LTS style, but more confident, even less time. Had to plan for 3 preps though, so it still seemed like a lot.

    This year: I'm teaching some of the same things I had done in my LTs so I have the powerpoints done. I have to redo things because now we're going by common core, and not everything is planned, but I am where I need to be. I do try to plan everything out for 2 weeks, but because it's hard to see that far ahead I do about a week or so. Some days it takes me 5 minutes to figure out what to do the next day (and I'm not just winging it). Some nights I'm tired, but wake up the next day 20 minutes earlier and do it then.

    I'm not overwhelmed, and this is my first year. I did make things easier on myself on purpose, including the curriculum for my elective class and it paid off.

    I do want to widen the activities and make them more exciting, but at this point, everything works well. I don't think my students are bored yet, but I don't want to get to that.

    There are things you can do to make things easier.
    For example:
    - I realized that when I made an activity to have the student give me a summary of the story we have read so far with a cloze activity, with the words provided to chose from, it was awesome. They were able to do it, were engaged, and we gained a lot from it. I just came up with it by accident. Since then I've used it one more time, and will continue because it works.
    So that's a tool I will have, and will not need to sit there to think of new stuff. The more you have like that, the more you can chose from without spending a lot of times on it.
    - my warm ups always focus on vocabulary. so I don't need to think a lot, I just need to make the powerpoint slide. They vary from cloze, match word with definition, create sentences, fill in synonym/antonym, etc. Again, it's another no brainer, because I have it figured out. I will add to it, but in the meanwhile it's not something I need to worry about.
     
  7. riverdance85

    riverdance85 Rookie

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    Sep 8, 2013

    I teach Spanish. That's right- I will have to learn to do just that. Differentiate...I think when I'm at the point were I am more comfortable with planning activities, differentiation will be easier to implement in my plans.

    Thanks again. I truly appreciate your support, Caesar.
     
  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    You'll get there.

    Do you have access to technology? Could you post resource videos and activities and use them as supplemental materials for students who need a little extra help?
     
  9. riverdance85

    riverdance85 Rookie

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    Linguist,

    Thank you for your reply. It has given me thought. I think I am overreacting in perceiving my students' attitudes toward my class. Then again, it is Spanish and some kids just don't like it, period. Unfortunately, they have to take my class to get an advanced studies diploma (only Spanish is offered as a foreign language). It is a small school district with only two high schools.
     
  10. riverdance85

    riverdance85 Rookie

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    Sep 8, 2013

    Caesar-

    Yes, I use youtube videos to show grammar songs to help. My website \ also has a page full of helpful links -Spanish game sites, links to youtube videos used in class, and links to drop box where the original powerpoints and daily agendas are located.
     
  11. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Sep 8, 2013

    As far as students saying the class is boring, don't take it to heart, don't even go by what they say.
    I had some students say the class was boring when
    - they were busy taking notes
    - we were reading a story
    - when I had them work together to come up with answers
    - when I made the day kinda easy, because they've been so good and did so much work, I also let them chill at the end and just talk to each other. One student actually said this was boring, but it's not because he wanted to do work (he usually just hates school)

    I think some students have a hard time expressing themselves. Saying 'this class is boring' can stand for
    - this is an easy class
    - this is too easy for me
    - this is too hard
    - I don't know what to do
    - I don't know how to do this
    - I hate English because I'm not good at it
    - I hate school, I always fail
    - school means nothing to me, I make $1000 / week selling drugs. This is pointless
    - I'd rather be with my friends, and walk the streets
    - I have a lot of things I have to worry about, like where I'm gonna sleep tonight, and I have to deal with this cr.p, it's boring
    - I'd rather be discussing last night with my friends right now (the homie got shot and I wanna know what they'll do about it), but this teacher makes me copy this sh.t down
    - I can't wait for lunch when I can talk to the girls / guys

    These are real life scenarios that go through my student's head when they say 'the class is boring'. So I can't just go home and have a crisis over how my classes are / should be simply because my students don't know how to communicate their thoughts.
    Keep that in mind :)
     
  12. riverdance85

    riverdance85 Rookie

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    Sep 8, 2013

    Thanks, Linguist! I am certainly more at ease now. Learning to interpret teenage demeanor is also an art :)
     

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