Slow in the Other Things Too
I've noticed a strong tendency in myself to explain too much and go too fast. I resist, but it creeps back up. Probably from years of seeing it done this way as a student.
You might assume I am talking about the language. To my credit, I would say I limit well the amount of new language that my students hear, especially the first days of class. But what about classroom expectations? Jobs and routines and call-and-responses that keep things rolling and engagement up? I think that if I'm not just as vigilant with these things as I am with the language component, I run a similar risk of losing students.
Do I really think that kids can internalize all the classroom expectations the first day of class? Is it worth my time or theirs to get to all the jobs and routines the first day, let alone the first week? I think not. Just as I ease into things deliberately and slowly when communicating in the TL, I want to slow down and spend time with each of the less obvious elements that make for a successful TCI classroom.
For example, today to start the year off I was introducing myself in Spanish. I was circling my name: "yada yada yada... Clase, Profe Tripp o Presidente Tripp?... Profe Obama? yada yada yada" (I learned this approach from Ben Slavic's Laramie Handouts). This goes on for about 15 - 20 minutes typically. Meanwhile, establishing expectations and teaching them "how to play the game". I very easily could have gone through all of my "Input Control" (thanks Byron Depres-Berry for that term) gestures and phrases (e.g. slow down, etc). I could have done a lot of stuff that will be indispensable throughout the year.
But I resisted. I want these things to sink in at a deep level, better with modeling than with words explaining the Whats and Whys etc. I sensed I had already used up my "explain-it-credit", expounding plenty (still not much) on the importance, the reason, and the procedure for responding to all of my questions and statements. Introducing and explaining more this first day could have easily undermined the calm I was trying to establish and the comprehension (of language and otherwise) I was aiming for.