"My teaching, and quite frankly my life, has never been the same since
[observing Allison’s classes]."
[observing Allison’s classes]."
Disclaimer: I stole something else from Annabelle-Bitmojis as images in documents. You'll now see these all over my blog.
And now for something completely different!
Day 2-I spent the morning with Dustin Williamson (whom I've known for years, but had never seen in action); he was teaching intermediate Spanish to older folks. One of my favorite aspects of teaching with CI is that there isn't one personality type that is "best." There are so many possible activities that we can use in a CI classroom that work well for our own temperament. Annabelle Allen (with whom I spent all day yesterday) and I have similar dispositions (my students often think I'm nuts), but Dustin is calm and relaxed, but his students were engaged and answering his questions.
Some tricks I will take away from Dustin's class:
After lunch, I went back to learn more from Annabelle. Her classroom management is second to none (and I saw it first hand when I visited her school in February), and it's my biggest challenge, so I wanted to gather specific information to establish new systems. A lot of her strategies are the same or similar to things I already do, but this was an essential session for me because I was reminded that my issues stem from one major problem: inconsistency. In the beginning of the year, I let little things (that I should be smashing away immediately) slide, and that is setting me up for a rough road for the rest of the year. I will spend the next couple of weeks before school starts thinking of ways to help me be more uniform in how I handle small discipline infractions in my room. This is something I really want to nip in the bud this year. I do believe that I am a successful teacher and am good at what I do, but I want to end the moments of frustration when I feel that I have no control over my classes and I end up more frustrated than proud after a day of teaching. This is not an impossible feat, I just know it will take a lot of effort on my part. But, I know...
PS-Annabelle talked about Mafia this afternoon, which she said is a very powerful classroom management technique. Here's her blog post about it. She played it with her 8th graders when I was observing her in February. I did not know how I could modify it for my littles, but she directed me to Erica Peplinski's blog post about The Bad Unicorn. MUST TRY THIS! In the Mafia example Annabelle gave during this afternoon session, she stressed how important it is that you know your students and details about their lives. She modeled how while she preps the game she leads the students down one path, setting up the scene so that the class thinks that it's one particular student. "A boy was walking in the park with his big family and small brown dog..." and the students automatically think they know who it is... "and the small brown dog attacked someone else!"
Allison Litten teaches French at the Marion Cross School, a public K-6 school in Norwich, Vermont. This year she is teaching kindergarten and grades 1, 2, 4, and 6.