Midsemester meltdown

This semester I am teaching second semester second year Spanish.  You know the class…  the one where you have to finish out the textbook and all that is left to cover are such grammar points as the hypothetical conditional  (If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?)  and random bits of  grammar that really? seriously? no one uses on a daily basis. Or if they do it is because they are writing a paper, but even then…

It is the very same class that I wrote about here.  Sure, I could have just done what has been done before and forced the students to pay $200+ the text (that they will never use again after our 14 weeks together), but my conscience prevailed.  No, I decided not to follow that path, and instead focus on outcomes and developing -real- language skills.

Many of my students are first year students…fresh out of highschools where, they are quick to point out, they were not asked to speak…just fill in the blanks and listen & repeat. My more conversational, let’s uses these grammatical forms in context teaching style has been jarring to them…at best.

The class is taught at 9 a.m .  Yes, that 9 a.m….the one that comes 4 hours after most students go to bed.  The same hour, quite frankly, that I would rather be gently easing my way into the day.  Instead?   Together we  are diving into the cold, dark abyss.

We are at the midterm point right now. 30% of my class has mono, strep, insomnia or any combination therein.  The mornings are getting darker and colder.

The beginning of the semester, teaching the class felt like this:

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Right now, it feels like this:

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What better time (insert ironic tone) for me to ask my students to evaluate the class, and their learning. Tomorrow we will review the results. Provided the plague has not totally decimated my class, I predict a lively (hello? the Wednesday before break??) discussion, and new directions for the second half of the semester.

Stay tuned.

Barbara is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at a small liberal arts college in Maine. Rumor has it this was also her alma mater. She used to work for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for almost 20 years as a teacher and language center director. Prior to these adventures in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and making stuff out of clay. To see her online portfolio please click here!

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