Progress is Progress!
~ By Brittain
Every day in the classroom brings both new and unique challenges and victories. I’ve found that the key to remaining positive and moving in the right direction is to recognize and appreciate all the different victories, even if they may seem small.
Learning a language takes time (I should know… My Spanish is far from perfect!) You don’t become fluent in a second language over night. Since I’m now in the role of the teacher, I often have to remind myself of this so I don’t get discouraged.
Though fluency is the goal, there are so many important achievements and milestones in between. We teach our classes COMPLETELY in English. When we present new material, give instructions or ask questions its all done in English. No direct translation allowed! Our curriculum emphasizes the importance of exposing students to the language. Twice a week they have someone (me ☺) speaking to them and conversing with them in English. It’s a slower process but it stays in memory retention longer.
Some lessons are difficult and every student might not fully comprehend the material. BUT, every time a student understands instructions for an activity, asks to go to the bathroom in English, or greets me with a “Good morning Teacher! How are you?” it’s a reminder that they ARE learning and progressing. Exposure to the language really is key.
First grade is often a challenge for me. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely adore them; it’s a great age! But when it comes to teaching them English, it can be challenging. After all, it’s their first year of school. They’re only just learning the skills/concepts in their own language– How to spell, cardinal numbers, how to read, how to write complete sentences. They are learning all of this in BOTH languages. Complete comprehension of all the material in every lesson might not be the case for every student, but the fact that they’re learning these concepts and skills in BOTH languages isn’t a small victory, its huge.
I’ve found that every class, every day is different. There’s no magic method that gets every student in the class to be engaged and have 100% comprehension every day. That’s where it comes back to the little victories. Some days, the lessons don’t always run smoothly. Some days we don’t make it through the lesson. Some days we have to combine lessons to get back on schedule. Sometimes these challenges might make me feel defeated. But if I can help one or two students gain some confidence or a little better grasp on the English language, then I feel like it was a good day. It’s the small things. The confident smiles when they get an answer right, saying the date in English, when they remember the previous days material, eagerness to participate, good behavior, or any other seemingly small successes that should be celebrated. Progress is progress!