Thursday, September 22, 2022

Cherishing the Few Specks of Time

Recently I saw the movie Everything Everywhere All at Once, and oh my gosh, I was completely blown away by it! I kind of had an idea of what the movie was about, but wow, it was SO MUCH more than that. The basic plot is about a Chinese immigrant mother (played by Michelle Yeoh) who is recruited to save the universe from a major evil villain who is determined to destroy the multiverses. Yes, it sounds like an action, comic-book kind of movie, but it is an incredibly absurd but such a deep, moving film - for the last 20 minutes, I was both laughing hysterically and crying through it all. I can honestly say that it was one of my all-time favorite movies now!

Meanwhile, I am in my 7th week of school with students. By this time, everyone (teachers, students, administrators) is SO TIRED and already burned out to a degree. The novelty has definitely worn off for all parties involved, and now it flat out feels like work for everyone. Throw in that I am also a new department head, so I feel like I am learning everything as I go. So much of it is all "first times" for me - first time leading a department meeting, first time having to call a parent who wanted to talk with me about a teacher issue, first time dealing with teacher "concerns/complaints/gripes," etc. Honestly, it has been very hard!

When it comes to teaching, here are some "truths" which I have learned:

  • There are days which are going to be just flat out poopy. I hate this reality.
  • Teaching is a marathon, not a sprint. Again, I hate this reality too, because it means that there are going to be LOTS of poopy days over a long period of time. I just want to get through it all quickly!
  • Students and teachers were affected deeply in so many ways since March 2020, and it may take YEARS to figure it all out and to see those effects. So as we enter this post-pandemic phase, in my opinion to expect that everything will suddenly return to normal is not realistic. Quite honestly, I still feel that I have tinges of PTSD on so many levels from these past 2.5 years (personal and professional) as we maneuvered through the uncertainty of it all.

However, without spoiling Everything Everywhere All at Once (I hope that I am not), one of the messages in the film is learning to "cherish the few specks of time that have any meaning." This is definitely something which I trying to take in:

  • Since victories may be few and far-between, I need to look for them. Because if I am not careful, I will develop a bitter spirit, and I refuse to allow that to happen.
  • I truly need to celebrate any and all victories no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. For example, in one of my "lesser-involved" classes where I feel like I have been struggling these past few weeks to engage, I was very impressed with their first timed write of the year. Some of my other classes were really engaged communicatively in the Unfair Game. Another couple of my classes did a great job with a recent Write and Discuss. Some students made me laugh out loud the other day.
I wish that I could say that every day I am hitting homeruns in my classes - instead, I feel like there are many days where I am getting hit by a pitch! But I am looking for those days where I get a hit when I am up to bat, and if it ends up being a bunt single, I will take it!

Tuesday, September 6, 2022


This is another communicative-based activity which I learned from Andrea Schweitzer this summer at IFLT. It is very much like the Word Chunk Game/Trashketball but with a twist. The setup itself is the same like the Word Chunk Game/Trashketball, but the difference is that in Grudgeball, students can give points to other teams points or most likely take them away!. Martina Bex has a great writeup here with directions, so I will not waste blog space here rehashing her directions. You will learn that this activity is called Grudgeball for a reason!

Like the Word Chunk Game/Trashketball, I love how Andrea "communicatified" this game. If a team answered the question correctly, I asked in Latin "________, who will lose points? Team #1, Team #2, Team #3..." If a team answered the question incorrectly, I asked in Latin, "_________, who will receive points? Team #1, Team #2, Team #3..." And much like Word Chunk Game/Trashketball, I asked the class in Latin before the student attempted to score, "Class, do you think that ______ will score?" Previously in Word Chunk Game/Trashketball where most students would respond "Minime (no)!!", however because in this game there was the taking away of points of another team depending on the basket, most students yelled out, "Certe (yes)!" because they wanted to get on the good side of the student so that the student would NOT take away any of their points. Like earlier, I was able to ask again in Latin, "______, who will lose the points? Team #1, Team #2, Team #3..." This gave me an excuse to say the team numbers again in Latin for repetition.


  1. In terms of a lesson plan, this activity took place late in the scaffolding of a reading. By the time we had played Grudgeball, students were quite familiar with both the English and Latin for the story.
  2. In her presentation, Andrea said that when we facilitate "communicatified" games like Trashketball, Grudgeball, and The Unfair Game, although we are asking students questions to answer, our focus actually should be on engaging students in communication - asking the class to predict if a student is going to make a basket in the target language and then interacting with those responses are a great way to begin!