I just sent my Spanish 3 students home the other day with their flipped classroom notes on conditional tense – how to do “would” in Spanish.
That got me thinking about the “would”s of my own classroom teaching. I believe that a good exercise for educators is to take a step back, look at their teaching with a birds-eye view, and ask what their ideal classroom would look like in an ideal world. I think that we can often discover things that we can improve– without having to wish for different students or a different school.
So. If I had all the resources and time that I wanted, what would my ideal language classroom look like? I’m going to work within the confines of classroom teaching and avoid a Ms. Frizzle fantasy, going on a magic school bus and traveling to Argentina for a year. What would my ideal language classroom situation be? Where would I at least start the list? What would you all add?
- I would have limitless color printing – for absolutely everything.
- Scholastic’s Spanish magazines would be part of every unit.
- My students would talk with trained Boomalang conversation partners overseas twice a week. If you don’t know what Boomalang is, check them out here.
- I would have a fully-stocked FVR (Free Voluntary Reading) library with plenty of instructional minutes for students to do FVR for 20 minutes everyday.
- I would probably replace pre-fabricated vocab lists that I hold students accountable to learn, and instead replace them with personal vocab lists that students keep logging throughout a unit. Students would constantly have their phones out, with WordReference app open, and only use their phones for that purpose.
- My classroom instruction would appeal to both analytical students— the ones who want the verb endings and an explanation of “the rules” — and also students who want to soak in the language more naturally and get the language in pieces that they notice and choose to commit to memory.
- For every person or figure that I present from the Spanish-speaking world, I would show up dressed as that person with a memorized monologue as a way to talk about that person.
- I would have different sets of scenery for my classroom and change it every couple months to reflect different areas of the Spanish-speaking world, complete with all necessary props and supplies: an island, Las Ramblas, colonial decor, La Recoleta, a cafe, a rainforest, a cathedral, and more scenery of the sort.
- Every historical and cultural presentation I do would be as engaging as a Ted Talk or well-done documentary.
- I would have a native-speaker present everyday who does not know English that students would be forced to interact with in the target language. If not that, an English classroom somewhere in the Spanish-speaking world that has class the same time we do that is willing, able, and that would be available to ring up at any time to Skype with. This was an awesome experience recently:
- I would have enough time and enough knowledge of different types of dance from across the Spanish-speaking world to teach a bit of them all to my students during the last 15 minutes of every class. For the time being, I don’t have that time– and my dancing ability is at best SNL parody level.
- I would have an endless supply of foods from the Spanish-speaking world for my students to sample every week. Empanadas this week, pupusas next week, paella the week after that, and the menu plan would be planned out and delivered on schedule.
- I would have an endless list of people that need or want to read what my students write so that they’re not simply writing or writing as another character just for me, just for the grade. In other words, outlets for *authentic* communication.
Google, YouTube, and Skype are getting us closer and closer to being able to execute an ideal / authentic classroom, but it’s hard work. All of the duties and obligations that language teachers have (see examples in the tweet below) make it hard to make every single minute of every single class a wild adventure. But we have to keep trying and keep plowing along towards that end.
What elements would you include in your ideal classroom? Comment below!