Last night, unable to sleep, I said in my mind exactly what I wanted to say in this post. Of course I can’t remember. It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, but I desperately need some feedback.
I am a 6th-grade foreign language teacher. I teach an Introduction to Spanish. I’ve been doing this a short time. (Before that I was a reading teacher, a language arts specialist, and a third-grade teacher).
I teach in a very large school district which is divided into clusters which are divided into pyramids. There are three pyramids in my cluster. Some pyramids have 6th grade in the middle school and some have it in the elementary school. My pyramid has 6th grade in the elementary school–there is one high school, one middle school and six elementary schools in my pyramid.
Our pyramid just got our International Baccalaureate (IB) certification for the middle years. This means students must take a foreign language in 6th grade. Before we got our final certification, I taught an Introduction to Foreign Languages (Spanish, French, German and Latin). This was nice. It gave the students a taste of each of the languages (offered in our pyramid) and a better idea of which language they might like to pursue. When the IB people came down from NY; however, they said we must start teaching “a” language in 6th grade. At five of our elementary schools Spanish is the only language available, and at the other Chinese.
Teaching 6th-grade foreign lang. in the elem. school is difficult what with the elementary schedule. I only see my students twice a week for 45 minutes. I must go into their classrooms, as there is no space for me to have my own classroom.
I teach between ten and 12 classes at two schools–varies from year to year (used to be three schools and 13-15 classes). Last year one of my schools had seven 6th-grade classes and the other had three. I go to each school every day. At my smaller school my average class looked like the following (and probably will this coming year, too): Half the class doesn’t speak any Spanish even though they’re surrounded by classmates who are speaking it among themselves, and 1/2 the class are native Spanish speakers. Of that half, a few are fluent (reading, writing, speaking), the rest speak, but don’t read or write well, or else, the expressive skills are just so, so.
As I mentioned above, I teach an Introduction to Spanish. I want to do a much better job at meeting the needs of all my students, but I ask you, how do I do this successfully? I know grouping is important, but there’s more I need to do.
I want to use technology more. How? At one school, there is one SmartBoard to share between seven classes. At the other school, there might be four 6th grades this year, which means one class won’t have a SmartBoard. At the big school, each class has five slow laptops. At the small school there’s a mobile lab that has to be shared with all the 6th-grade classes and (maybe even the 5th-grade) classes.
I’m getting overwhelmed just thinking about all I have to and want to do.
Does anyone have suggestions, comments, etc. for me. I am open to any and all…and I thank you in advance.