Ignite! Back to School Inspiration for Staying on Track! by Rebecca Moulton

 

Rebecca (Becky) Moulton attended the iFLT16 conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee in July 2016 and presented her first Ignite® Talk in which she shared valuable insights for both new and experienced CI teachers. CIPeek invited her to share that presentation with our readers. Becky has adjusted her presentation slightly for our blog format. See more information about Ignite® Talks here

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In mid June, when TPRStorytelling announced that Leslie Davison was looking for iFLT16 participants interested and willing to present a five minute Ignite® Talk during a special lunch session, I thought “I’m in!” Then, pondering on possible topics, I realized that by the third day of this mind blowing event, everyone’s heads would be spinning with input.

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So, I decided to share some insights that stop my head from spinning…or at least slow it down. (No, I’m not talking about yoga, meditation or red wine. Although they do help!) I’m not sharing anything new, but as the saying goes… “repetition is key.”

I’ve been a high school Spanish teacher for 21 years. Seventeen years ago I embarked on my life changing TPRS journey along with two colleagues so I was (and am) fortunate to be in a school that got rid of the textbooks. Go Mounties!

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Over the years, I’ve learned from the best via many TPRS workshops and national conferences. I collaborate with my school colleagues and keep connected with colleagues near and far on the MoreTPRS listserve, Facebook pages, and other social media PLCs (Professional Learning Communities). I hope that at least one thing I share will resonate with you–whether you say “Oh, good thing to remember” or “Go me, I already do that!”

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My five insights for staying on track:

  • Be you and be kind to yourself
  • Get the basics down first
  • Connect and communicate
  • Show and Tell–Share your successes with “stakeholders”
  • Enjoy your students

 

Number 1

Be you and be kind to yourself on this learning journey. This applies as much to outside the classroom as in it. Don’t expect to be perfect or just like someone else. Outside of the classroom, allow yourself time to turn off your “teacher brain” and live your life.

This quote by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer is spot on for this reminder to be “you”, he said, “My goal is not to be better than anyone else, but to be better than I used to be.”

Here is another favorite quote from Maya Angelou. “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

 

Number 2

Get the basics of the method down first. Those are the building blocks which you will go back to when you get off track. There are still times in class when things might not be going well and it hits me, “I’ve gotten off track.” (Probably too many days without a story!)

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Don’t try to do everything you’ve learned over the summer during a conference, professional development, or via a book or on-line resources at once or you’ll crash and burn. Set smart goals. As the saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”

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Number 3  

Connect and communicate with like minded teachers. Way back in 1999, a small group of teachers started the Moretprs listserve. This invaluable “help-list” has grown from handful of subscribers to over 7500. Nowadays there are additional ways to connect with other TPRS CI teachers. Make a point to reach out to another teacher to get or give support. More than likely it will be mutually beneficial.

 

Number 4

Share your classroom successes by showing and telling! Tell your students and their parents how impressed you are with the language they are acquiring. Share this information with your principals, administration, school board, and community. Use photographs (and video clips) of your daily classroom practice in your (digital) portfolio and also to provide evidence for annual teacher evaluations.

I’ve always enjoyed using my camera and l love to take pictures of my students. From the beginning my motto was– “catch them having fun.” I put my photographs on bulletin boards in and outside my classroom, with articles I write in the school and district newsletters, on the CI Peek website who hosted two of my blog posts this spring, and on my @SraMoulton Twitter account. I often use a photo collage editor app such as PicCollage to format multiple photographs into one tweet. Take a look at what’s been happening in my classroom.

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By sharing the exciting things happening in and around your classroom and the positive results of your students acquiring another language, you are keeping your stakeholders informed. This will help you to be an advocate for yourself, your students, and for your language program.

 

Number 5

Enjoy your students, love your students, they are the reason you are here! “Storyasking”–making up a story with students– is one of my favorite activities because of the reciprocal energy and engagement. Students tell me that it is their favorite thing as well. I will end with a quote by Alfred Mercier that confirms why I teach the way I do. 

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Rebecca (Becky) Moulton has been teaching Spanish since 1995 at Northwest High School in Jackson, Michigan. She has been teaching with TPRS/CI since 1999. She earned her BA from Alma College in Alma, MI, her teaching certificate from Northern Michigan University, and her MA in Common Learnings in Curriculum from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, MI. Contact Becky at Rebecca.Moulton@nwschools.org or Twitter: @SraMoulton

Image credits:
Classroom photographs by Rebecca Moulton and Marnie Hade
Other images from https://pixabay.com

 

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