In my current school, students don’t get a choice of the language that they take in Year 7 and they must continue with this same language (French, German or Spanish) all the way through to GCSE. This causes resentment towards the subject in some students, as well as a lack of motivation to work, since they haven’t had the choice in opting for this subject – a great challenge for any teacher!
My mission, as The Ideal Teacher, is to be a teacher who engages all pupils in all lessons, gets them excited about language learning and coming into my classroom, obviously, whilst helping them to make progress. On the positive side, I am doing well at getting the majority of students to achieve the latter – at least that’s what the data tells me! However, for the most part, I don’t feel like I am achieving the other goals. The main reasons include: trying hard to get through the course material quickly but to some level of depth, keeping on top of paperwork and admin, as well as poor behaviour in a handful of students in some classes and so, overall, I tend to stick quite rigidly to the text book to plan my lessons.
I decided last week that I screenshot, like, retweet and save so many fantastic teaching ideas from the internet and social media, but then time and the obstacles mentioned above come into play. You can read more about that in my Emojis Vocabulary Builder post. Therefore, I feel this drives me further away from my goal of making all students feel languages are worth learning. So, I opted to choose two new saved resources and incorporate them into my classroom teaching on a weekly basis. This week, I selected Quizlet Live and spelling with pair work and mini whiteboards. Read about them and other teaching reflections from the week below!
WHAT WENT WELL?
I used it to introduce new vocabulary with iPads in one class and laptops in another class and I have never seen my students so quiet and engaged! I am going to write a post about this shortly and encourage you all to try it. It gets students working in pairs, thinking and acquiring/consolidating vocabulary or useful phrases.
The first time I used Quizlet Live, this week, was with a bottom set in order to introduce vocabulary on the topic of family relationships in German. Unfortunately, the first time I did the activity, students didn’t come away learning very much from just that input alone, so with a middle set Y9 group, I introduced vocabulary in the same way, but as a second activity, they used mini whiteboards in pairs. They alternated one pen to spell out the same words or phrases a letter at a time on one mini whiteboard via dictation from me. This got them thinking about the spelling of words with umlauts, German sounds (w and v and f, for example), which I felt was a useful exercise. I recommend using this challenge to consolidate already taught and used vocabulary, perhaps for low stakes testing? As well as for practising the spelling of tricky sounds.
EVEN BETTER IF:
This is still something which is grinding my gears this week, but in a different year group to last week. I am remaining strict in my approach with a zero tolerance policy – it’s landing 3-4 students each lesson in detentions, but hopefully it will pay off.
I would be really interested in knowing about behaviour policies that work well in your school and the different levels of tolerance you, as a classroom teacher, a middle leader, a member of the Senior Leadership Team, or even as a head teacher have.
I heard about the SOAS Languages Challenge on Twitter a few months ago and was really drawn to the fact that it was a project about independence, collaboration and creativity in languages. You can download the SOAS University of London Languages Challenge Teachers Pack for more information. Students in Y8-10 work in groups of 5 and pick five out of nine creative tasks to improve their team work, independence and language skills. I ran the SOAS Languages Challenge at school over the last 6 weeks. It commenced with a general scout for interest through class teachers promoting it in February, a lunchtime meeting with me introducing the challenge before the competition started and handing out the student booklets which the SOAS organisers sent through to me. Whilst the competition was an independent project, I suggested that the students meet in my classroom on Mondays to catch up and work on their ideas and projects; mainly so that I could monitor their progress.
At first, I had good levels of interest from a number of students in years 8-10. I had 25 students initially taking part (2 year 8 groups, 2 year 9 groups and 1 year 10 group). Whilst the groups came to the weekly meet up sessions and spent time working on the projects, most students didn’t have the motivation to see it all the way through to the end, I believe this was due to the Easter holidays getting in the way, as well as an exam week. I really would like to run it again next year but will perhaps have more of an incentive for them to complete the project, as well as give the students a longer time frame to complete the projects, i.e. from September through to March? Those who took part came out with a brilliant cover of Ben E King’s Stand By Me Song in German, as well as some fantastic recipes and videos in Spanish.
Thanks for being interested in The Ideal Teacher’s journey and teaching reflections of the week. Check out Last Week’s Issue 1 of The Ideal Teacher’s Teaching Reflections
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