The Perfect System
In 2002 I began my teaching career. At the time I thought I would have it all figured out by my third or fourth year, and that each successive year would be better than the one before. Well, perhaps because I’m a slow learner, or because I have trouble getting my mind around something as complicated as a curriculum, or because each new group of kids are different I have struggled to make for myself a system that consistently works. I have for years relied largely on trying out new things – some to great success! – but at times without a solid base of practices and activities through which I could monitor student growth.
“Fight the Beast”
This is what I tell my students. Language learning is messy sometimes. It’s challenging, but it’s fun. It’s a struggle, but liberating. It’s confusing at times and at others it makes sense. Without engaging it full on, I tell them, they cannot really master it. Subdue it, sometimes. Wait it out, sure. Walk away wounded, perhaps. To defeat the beast they have to be committed and fight it head on, daily.
The beast for me is like the nine-headed hydra that Hercules fought. At times I’m looking at each head, wondering which one to swat, knowing that if I focus on one, more heads will sprout, leaving me more overwhelmed than before. The 3 Modes. The 5 C’s. Backward design. IPA’s. Immersion. Proficiency. Common Core. Comprehensible Input. ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. High Yield Strategies… How does it all work together? Is there a system that incorporates it all?
What I hope to accomplish with this blog is to present elements of curriculum design, accumulate best practices, introduce new ideas and collaborate with other language teachers (Did you know Hercules needed a friend’s help to defeat the beast? The key was a scorching the severed head! Pleasant, I know). Please offer comments and ask questions; and if you’re fighting the beast too, grab a torch!