At one point in my teaching career, I was in the faculty lounge. While in the faculty lounge, I overheard one colleague remark to another colleague that he doesn’t assign work to be graded during the three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Why? Because students typically don’t complete the work.
I didn’t say anything. Sometimes, it’s best not to say anything. Sometimes it’s best to just listen. At the same time, the remark on my colleague’s part did leave me wondering.
Students not completing work en masse during the three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas has not been my experience. Not in almost 23 years of teaching. In fact, I have found it to be a very productive period of learning for my students and for me. During this first week of the three-week stretch, the following took place:
Spanish 1-7 students completed a review homework assignment on AR verbs, in preparation for a quiz on the same. All of them completed the assignment, and, with the exception of one student, all of them scored high.
Spanish 1-6 students completed a homework assignment on definite articles. All of the students submitted the work.
Spanish 4 students spent this past week learning about two popular legends of the Spanish-speaking world. They had two homework assignments. With the exception of a student who was absent, and another who forgot his assignment at home, all of the work was submitted, and completed well.
So…I ask the all-important question: Where’s the beef?
My students will work continuously and steadily throughout the three-week stretch, up until the the final bell signaling Christmas vacation sounds at 12:10 pm on Friday December 16th. I have found that order, structure, routine and high expectations are fundamental, as students begin to focus ever more intently on Christmas vacation with each approaching day. Of course, engaging content helps, too.
Next week, my Spanish 4s will begin work on researching a legend of the Spanish-speaking world of their choice. My Spanish 1-7’s will write dialogue skits. My Spanish 1-6’s will work on words for things in the classroom, forming plurals for nouns, and learning about indefinite articles to increase their understanding of gender, and their depth of expression. And, Spanish 1 upper school will learn how to describe themselves and others.
The infamous third week, I will most likely do some cultural Christmas-oriented activities, while infusing the reading, listening and speaking of Spanish in those activities.
It will be another full week next week. And, students will rise to the expectations set for them. Even during the three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I know: I have been witness to it, time and again.