This year will be quite different for two reasons (well, really three). First, we have a super different schedule. For the past seven years, we’ve used a modified block, and coming from a consistent 7 period day in public school, it was the best schedule ever! We would meet with each class for 50 minutes on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. Wednesday and Thursday were the block days. Last year, for the first time, I taught all four 90 minute classes on Wednesdays… It wasn’t always fun, but I found that it was easier than teaching five 50 minute classes in a row. I didn’t feel rushed, more students had time to share, and we had enough time to really get in to what we were discussing. But this year we’ve moved to eight 75 minute classes with an eight day rotation. Sounds crazy, right? I just got the schedule and it seems I’ll be teaching just one class every other day, French 4, and then teaching AP, two section of 4 Honors, and the only section of 5 Honors on the alternating day, yikes! I would have liked to have at least one free period each day, but maybe this will be better than it seems at first glance.
Second, while I know my AP and 5 honors students very well, all of the juniors will be new to me! One of my super powers is memorizing student names instantly, but I’d like to work on getting to know them as well as I can this year. I usually feel like all of the English speaking teachers know their students better than I do, so one of my goals this year will be to try to change that! Perhaps a weekly journal entry will help 🙂
And thirdly, I’m different this year! I’ve spent more time thinking about school this summer than usual and with all the excitement around CI and TPRS, I know that this year can be my best yet 🙂 I’m also a year older and wiser, so maybe some of my experiments will go well the first time!
I’ll see all of my classes and students on Monday for orientation. We’ll probably have 10 minutes together, so I’ll use that time to dive right in! It’s always easier to ease up later in the year than it is to make things tougher, so I’ll start in French and encourage my new babies to do the same. Basic introductions for the juniors and maybe we’ll be able to talk about what everyone did over summer vacation with my seniors.
The first real day of classes will then be Tuesday and Wednesday. I’ll show some slides of my two and a half months outside of school (maybe I’ll show my blog too!) and then give students some time to put together 8 to 10 pictures to illustrate their own vacations and we can chat informally about what everyone did. It’s such an easy way to review past tenses and see some fun pictures! Since this will be my first week with 75 minute classes, I’ll probably try to work on some reading exercises as well. Each junior has a copy of Petit Nicolas so we’ll work on the first story if/when we have time. I typically jump right into the textbook, but I think introducing some easy reading first will be more fun and encouraging. While all French 4 students are presenting and reading, I’ll introduce my AP kids to the exam (in English?) and French 5 will start with Histoire d’une revanche that I have as a classroom set.
I hope this week will help students see how fun and approachable the French language can be, even at the higher levels. I usually have no trouble with 90% target language for juniors and seniors, except for French 4 regular and French 5… If I set the tone early, and help them through the first few weeks with baby steps, we will all be able to have a rewarding year!