Students are coming! They will be in our classrooms any minute. Are we ready?
The first week in Spanish ets the tone for the rest of the year, the first day especially. We jump right in (literally and figuratively, right ? ¡Salten!).
The beauty of starting the circle immediately is that we don’t have to explicitly tell students about the expectations. After being in class for a week, we take a break to debrief and THEY tell me what class is all about.
Why would I stand and talk at them about my expectations when instead I’m able to invite them to experience it?
After the first day, I expect it to be clear to students that:
- No English is allowed.
- You are going to feel frustrated.
- You are required to participate.
- You will be moving a lot.
Now, I won’t leave it at that or students might run away…
Above represents some of the initial feelings, and it is all true. However, as the class progresses our hope (and experience so far) is that the circle allows us to facilitate activities to communicate the following aspects of class to our students as well:
- No English is allowed, however, I will not ask you to complete tasks above your language level. You will also be able to communicate with body language, and drawing. You understand that silence is acceptable.
- You will feel frustrated, however, you will also feel success.
- You are required to participate within this environment in which it’s safe to make mistakes. You will find yourself wanting to participate.
- We will be moving a lot and interacting with everyone in the circle.
This list highlights the implicit contract students experience in the classroom. Additionally, the circle demonstrates that the teacher is a part of the community, learning along with the students, ready to take the journey with them.
Setting the expectations is what is truly important those first days of class. Spanish acquisition happens at the same time, but it is secondary to establishing the environment needed for the rest of the year.