The answer to the question is... Simplicity

School starts tomorrow. I'll be meeting many kids for the first time. First impressions are (almost) everything.

Last week I was worried about getting everything ready. You know, all the things. Bulletin boards decorated, handouts printed, seating charts established, posters hung, lessons planned, gradebook set up, etc etc. And at two different classrooms in two different schools.

So the question being 'How the heck can I get ready for my classes and still have time for my family in these last relatively relaxing days of the summer?'. The answer is most certainly, of course, simplicity.

Bulletin Boards

I'm not spending hours or even one hour decorating them this year. Reading Laurie Clarq's thoughts on the matter helped me feel better about letting this process evolve throughout the year. Whew. Next.


I'll have 3 ready on the first day of class. These will be all I need for the entire first week. I've made the mistake in the past of shuffling around for papers to hand to kids, when what I should have been doing above all else was establishing relationships, with eye contact and physical proximity, not with paper or powerpoints. Here are those 3 items:

1. Cardstock for each student. I prefer to color code these by class (i.e. blue for Period 1, yellow for period 2, etc). I use these for the career-enhancing and relationship-building activity created by Ben Slavic – Circling with Balls. This can surely be interpreted in two ways. (Read more on "Circling with Balls" in this awesome primer by Ben that allowed me to thrive my first year teaching with TPRS.)

2. Quick Quiz/jGR. This is for the last 10 minutes of class (which turns into 5 minutes once the routine is well established and understood.) I count these as one "item" because it is my typical formal assessment piece for any given class period. I don't do these every day of the year, but the first week I make sure to get them in the habit of expecting an interpretive (Quick Quiz) and/or interpersonal (jGR) eval on any given day.

3. Course outline/syllabus, radically altered this year after happening upon Dustin Williamson's model which is a visual smorgesboard of delicious language class propoganda. I won't hand it out until Day Two or Three. I want to make it crystal clear from the get-go that we speak Spanish together in this class. Discussing a course syllabus does not effectively get this point across.

(I'm skipping the famous Matava questionairre this year. I found I'd spend half an hour of class having kids fill them out, only to file them away and barely reference them. The information that I harvested from real interactions with the students, in the TL, was the gold. However, I will miss the questionairre items "Celebrity you find attractive" and "Something you're afraid of". I'll just have to be more observant and curious with my students both in and out of class.

Seating Charts

I mentioned to my partner Cerrisa that, 'Shit!, I didn't get my seating charts done and I left the templates and class lists at school, and... school starts tomorrow!' She responded casually with, 'Why don't you just do them later this week?'

There's no way. So I'm going in an hour early to make sure they're hanging on the door when the students are walking into the room. There's nothing more important for me on the first day of class, than to establish that I am in charge and that I am ready. It's just too important to forego IMO. Fortunately, I won't know the majority of students I'll see tomorrow. Therefore I'll just be organizing them alphabetically, which won't take longer than 5 minutes per class. I'll have a new one ready (if needed), organized by individual personality and need, by the end of the week. Moving on...

Lesson Plans

(I'm not required to formally do these but this is what it'd look like if I did)

PQA Vocab: yes/no/or/is/(cognates)/es obvio

TPR Vocab: look at, ride bike, slow





Three of them:

1. Question words

2. Classroom Expectations

3. Clarifying Meaning

And this one:

4. Grant Boulanger's First We Listen

Gradebook Setup

Well, I hoped to have this completely done by the first day, so that students and parents will see I have my shit together, but being at a new school, and wanting to not be stressed out with one more thing the minutes before students arrive at 8am tomorrow, it got cut. This one I'll save for later in the week.

But it'll be simple. If you look at my Syllabus, you'll notice I'm following the lead of Ben and Grant and others by weighing the Interpersonal Mode more than Interpretive, while Presentational Mode doesn't get the time of day in the Spanish 1 and 2 books. After all, first we learn to listen...

Etc, etc

-custodians greeted and thanked

-colleagues comisserated with about inservices and bureaucratic hoops

-administrators pleased, and challenged

-whiteboard clean and markers tested

-desks arranged

-hair cut and beard trimmed

-coffee ground and press ready

Check, check and check. May our days teaching with CI lead us to even greater simplicity in our work.

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