This year again, I started my first day of instruction for my Novice learners all in French . This is my second year kicking-off instruction directly in French with children who have no foreign language background but this time I added a little Pirate Teaching.
No matter how many props, visuals, modeling, comprehensible input, and body language I use, I worry after my first class: will the students come back or will they quit because I made them feel uncomfortable? Will we get to know each other as much as if I spoke English to them?
On the first question, I try not to let myself worry just because I am an “elective”. Yes, students can switch out of my class: but hopefully while they might have felt uncomfortable in class where the teacher doe snot speak much English, they realized that I care as much about them as other teachers do, how much they will learn this year, and just how different this class will be from their daily routine! Talk about a purple cow (#tlap).
On the second question, I recognize that I will not get to know them as fast as other teachers. But we will get there nonetheless! When we talk about our families, our likes & dislikes, our hobbies, etc. Getting to know each other is actually woven in the World Language curriculum! We are so lucky to teach a subject where we actually spend our day discovering who our students are and what they think! I often joke with my upper levels that I am the only class where talking about your week-end on Monday is actually part of class instruction.
Already, we got to know each other a bit, despite the “language barrier”: my students used Play Doh to create something that represent them (That’s the Pirate Teaching I was referring to at the beginning of my post, if you have not read “Teach Like A Pirate” yet, I strongly recommend it). All the directions for this activity were provided in French, they even answered a few questions about their creations. Everyone did a fantastic job and I learned that we have quite some talents in the room, ranging from singing, team sports, reading, figure ice-skating, horse back riding, and even chicken imitation!
I look forward to our second week together!
Note 1 : if you read my post about The Harry Potter lesson plan, I do not consider that lesson my first day of instruction. Our Middle School has a great Positive Behavior Support (PBS) initiative on the first day of school, where teachers do not teach content but various PBS lessons. Actually wearing a costume for that lesson turned out to serve an even better purpose. My Middle School Novice Learners did not get to meet their French teacher on that day! So I was able to show up the next day as myself and start all in French 🙂
Note 2: a small classroom management tip — If you are also planning a Play Doh or pipe cleaner activity on Day One, you want to make sure students put it away after they are done showing off their creation. I had a few students who were distracted playing around while others were answering questions :).