It seems that, every year for the past decade, I have increasing difficulty with curriculum planning during the summer. I have many bright ideas and good intentions at the end of June and throughout July. However, by the time August arrives, I feel as if I am attempting to detonate a ticking time bomb, with no strategy in how to do so. It’s what the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. called, “paralysis of analysis.”
I think that one part of the issue is my desire to create curriculum that is innovative, new and shiny, never before seen or done. In a word: perfect. The other issue is one on which a dear friend confronted me several years ago, with the following questions: “Is what you have been doing working? Are the students learning, making progress, and prepared for the next level?” To which I answered with an emphatic YES! to both questions.
So…what is the real dilemma?
A wise and dear colleague said this to me back in 2006, and then again in 2015: “Every teacher must sing to her own song.” What is my song? I am a teacher who likes culture, social justice, grammar, new words, literature, Spanish language films, geography, travel, and creating experiences that promote learning using the aforementioned. At the same time, I want to teach my students to achieve the designated level of proficiency in listening, reading, writing and speaking in the courses I teach.
I will apply some of the learning I obtained from the two-day TPRS workshop I attended in July. I do, however, need to adhere to a fairly traditional curriculum at my school, and use a textbook, at least once in a while. To that end, I plan to infuse my teaching with as much comprehensible input as I can. That said, TPRS doesn’t square fully with my beliefs re: teaching, learning, language acquisition, and assessment. I like some of its tenets, but, some of them leave big philosophical questions in my mind. And, that’s the honest and unvarnished truth. That’s it.
Third, I am going to create new themes for the aforementioned levels. As I read various language teacher blogs for inspiration, I happened upon this particular blog. The teacher’s content, approach, and methods resonated with me, for it resembles much of what I do and what I believe regarding language instruction. So, I think I am going to adopt her French 1 themes for my Spanish 1 classes, and use a blend of her French 3 and French 4/5 themes for my Spanish 4 classes.
So, I am feeling much better. More precisely, I am feeling less like shackles on, and more like shackles off, as my therapist would say. I am also feeling like the sorts of things I am planning are more in line with my beliefs. Which makes any day a good one. Having colleagues willing to share their ideas and resources helps a lot, too.