Monday, October 24, 2022

Spellbound - Movie Talk

Here is a Movie Talk which I just recently did a few weeks ago. I was wanting to introduce the vocabulary words plus (more), minus (less), conspicatus (having caught sight of), plurimus (very many), and invidiosus (jealous). When I did a Google search of "jealous animated short," this particular animated short came up - it worked perfectly for the words which I was wanting to introduce and for those targeted words which I was wanting to recycle. 

  1. I liked this animated short - it is not long at all, so I was able to do a Write and Discuss immediately afterwards.
  2. Quite ironically, I had been targeting the word "odi (I hate)" for a few weeks in our readings, so it was nice to do a movie talk which allowed me to recycle that word.
  3. This is a great movie short to discuss how "words hurt" but also how "words can heal."

Monday, October 17, 2022

Three-Minute Brain Break - Lists

Apparently, I have been slack on brain breaks in my classes, because today a few students "cared very loudly" that we have not been doing them. Since we were doing a Write and Discuss AND I did not want to waste too much time doing a brain break AND students had pencil/paper, I made up this one in the moment based on a previous brain break - lists

It was 3rd period and I was hungry, so I announced to the class, "You have one minute to write down as many restaurants (fast food and sit down) as you can that serve hamburgers. I am going to write down a list too. After a minute, I am going to read my list, and let's see how many of them you match up with me."

For a minute, we all wrote down our list of places which served hamburgers, and wow, that minute went by fast! I read my list to the class, and students matched their answers with me. However, afterwards, I asked for places which they had written down that I had not mentioned. This was where the fun began, because students began sharing names of places which I had completely forgotten about. In turn, students also began to say, "Oh that's right - I forgot about that place too." A number of students shared regional places, e.g., Whataburger (Texas), Checkers (the south) vs. Rally's (the west), Hardees (the south) vs. Karl's Jr (the west), etc. NOTE - Del Taco does serve hamburgers, but Taco Bell does not. Lots of fun!

This all lasted around 3 minute. Afterwards, students were satisfied, and we were able to return to our Write and Discuss. Good times.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Protecting your Bandwidth

I am a new department head this year, and at times, it has felt overwhelming, because everything in this position is a "first time" for me. I am definitely learning a lot so far. Last Friday right after school, three issues suddenly were brought to my attention as department head. But I was so tired and weary from the week already that I decided to wait until Monday to address them, since quite honestly, I did not possess either the emotional or mental bandwidth to deal with them. Since they did not need my immediate attention, I put it off until Monday - these concerns would still be there on that day, and I would have the adequate emotional and mental capacity to address them.

I have come to the conclusion that there are certain things over which I am not going to waste any mental, physical, or emotional bandwidth when it comes to my professional life, because big picture, it is not that big of a deal (or at least not a big of a deal to me any longer). I am now entering into my 24th year of teaching, and it has taken me so long to learn this. Although this may sound blasphemous, the lockdown and hybrid teaching were probably some of the best things to happen in my professional career, because they truly made me stand back, look at myself as a teacher, and reprioritize everything. Some of this is also due to my age and stage - I am 52 and can retire in 5-6 years, so my perspective is probably different from 2nd/3rd year teachers in their 20's.

Here are some ways in which I have learned to preserve my bandwidth:

  • You do not have to grade everything you assign. I no longer assign homework in my classes. While I know that there are huge debates about assigning/not assigning homework, I do not assign homework for one simple reason: I do NOT want to grade it. Yes, my reason for doing this can be interpreted as selfish, but this is a personal boundary for me. However, since I do not assign homework, then it is imperative that I am 100% faithful with my classroom time with students. There are a number of things which I do assign that while I may not give a grade to them, they serve as formative check-in's for me to see what it is that students know and to inform me if I can move forward with the material or if I need to address gaps.
  • Majoring on the majors, and minoring on the minors when it comes to my classroom setup. Even though I have 7 days of pre-planning, there is still never enough time to get everything done which I need to do. As a result, getting my classroom decorated and set up is low on my list of priorities during that time. I moved to a new classroom this year so my walls are pretty bare. In my early years of teaching, I can remember coming in on the weekends to get my classroom walls covered with posters and decorations, but now, as long as I have 32 chairs in my room on the first day of school, then that is a win for me. I can decorate and cover my walls eventually, and I am so okay with that.
  • Leaving work at work. During the year of hybrid teaching, that became standard practice for me. I will do some light planning on the weekends, but my goal is not to grade anything away from work. 
  • Learning to say no. Maybe it is because of my age and stage, but saying no to requests of my time has never been easier and more satisfying! 
  • Teaching is what I do, not whom I am. I will admit that earlier in my teaching career, I was all about learning how to be a better Latin teacher, attended conferences, voraciously read pedagogical blogs, etc. This is not to say that I am still not interested in bettering myself as a teacher today - the difference is that it is just not consuming my time and effort like it did before and taking over my life. Maybe I was younger and had more energy and interest to do so then.
I hope that you are learning to protect your bandwidth too!