Reflections on the year and plans for this summer and next year

Whew! It has been awhile. Like many people, I struggled with this transition to being at home and trying to work. It took me awhile to pinpoint my struggle- but to me, it became the fact that my day was overcome with administrative things (emailing everyone about assignments and grading.) Those were typically my day goals with a small secondary part of teaching. I didn’t feel motivated to constantly be doing those. I am motivated to create lessons and teach them. That is typically where I draw my creativity. Once I was done with most of these things, I was tired. I watched a LOT of Chopped, Guy’s Grocery Games and NCIS in the evenings throughout this time.

Even toward the end, I thought I would start feeling more motivated and creative. Then, I had comments to write for all of my students. While I truly loved reading their feedback on the class and how they had grown, I still was cranking out a lot of comments each day. It was finally toward the end of this (my last comments were submitted on Friday!) that I started to feel reinvigorated. I recognized why I hadn’t felt as creative (and found peace with that.) As I sat down to watch graduation, it hit me like a ton of bricks. What a roller coaster this year has been! Sometimes, I felt I was moving so much that I didn’t have time to really sit and reflect. Which has brought me to this moment.

What worked this year?

  • Many of my students really enjoyed the novels in both my sixth grade and eighth grade classes. In sixth grade, we read Brandon Brown versus Yucatan and Felipe Alou. In eighth grade, we read Leyendas Impactantes and Bianca Nieves.
  • My sixth grade students enjoyed the fair trade unit that I modified from Sara-Elizabeth’s project.
  • My eighth graders all loved Go! and Nailed It! was a big hit with my sixth graders. As the year evolved, I also incorporated more mini assessments with Go, it became even more effective. I want to incorporate some of these into the Nailed It unit as well.
  • I modified Carrie Toth’s mar de plástico unit for my fifth graders and that was a big hit.
  • While I still haven’t played full blown mafia yet, I tried some of Annabelle’s variations with my fifth grade class and they loved it! Next year, I will have to finally try it with my then sixth graders!
  • All of my classes participated in some elements of Señor Wooly’s Wooly Week, and some of the activities that I didn’t think would work- were great!
  • Edi el elefante worked wonders with my fourth grade- and I loved the games that are suggested in the teacher’s manual. They breathed life into my classes.
  • These Jungle Beat videos were a hit in both my fourth and fifth grade classes.
  • I LOVED teaching my early childhood classes! They were adorable and lifted up my spirits all the time. We worked on teaching them more chunks of useable language.
  • Third grade loved Señor Wooly! I am excited to evolve some of the Wooly Week activities to use more year round since many of them I felt worked well with older elementary students. They also did a great job with authentic videos.

What to change for next year?

  • My biggest focus for next year is going to make sure that the materials I use both as authentic resources and learner materials are more representative of our whole community. One of my biggest takeaways recently has been that this work involves our constant attention and focus. Even though I have started undertaking this this year, at times, it has still seemed haphazard.
  • First on the novel side, I am going to continue to switch up my books a bit: I want to teach Edi el elefante to the third graders, Llama en Lima to the fourth graders and Peter va a Colombia to the fifth graders. (For the last book, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going too animal heavy!)
  • I also created a story around myths in third grade, but I would love to incorporate some more throughout the year that build on one another because the teachers cover this topic, and it connects nicely in third grade.
  • I want to make sure that we have the updated version of Brandon Brown versus Yucatan since the illustrations are being updated.
  • Last year, I started to work on more of my units with sixth grade. We talked about who is represented in the Latinx community through the Soy Yo unit at the beginning. We also tied this into representation of indigenous groups as well. We then completed Martina’s Afrolatino unit in February, and I tied in some music with ChocQuibTown. Then, we finished the year with Felipe Alou. This summer, I want to really work on these units to connect them even more. I want to discuss more of the history of many of the Afrolatinx communities. I need to educate myself more, so I can have even richer conversations with my students.
  • Overall, I want to really focus on representation in music with my students for all of the grades. There are some amazing songs and story lines out there, but I want to make sure that I am including more Afrolatinx singers from different countries.
  • Finally, in 8th grade, my students started with a unit about Venezuela last year. They learned about Venezuela at the end of the year in 7th grade, so I want to change this unit into more of a protest unit. Many citizens throughout Latin America protested last year, and we can also discuss this in the context of the current protests in the United States. I want to focus on the change that these protests can bring about.

But, next year?!

I know, I know. I am fortunate that my school has discussed more of what our school will look like next year. Many teachers feel caught in limbo and not sure what to do (and frankly are being presented with a crazy amount of options that seem overwhelming for everyone!) Many teachers are planning on taking off the whole summer and focusing on fall when it comes. That makes a ton of sense- and in the end, you have to do what works for you!

I work in spurts when the mood strikes, and I get even more motivated. (Or my son gets a new LEGO set!) I know that I can relax and work when I want to. This is what has worked for me in the past. My goals are to find my resources that I like and prepare materials for these. Many of the tools that I use for distance learning, I can also use in the classroom. An EdPuzzle or Pear Deck slideshow will not go to waste- we can do that as a practice or as an in-class activity! Therefore, I will focus on smaller things that I can do to prepare that will be used in any case scenario.

Whew! I hope that this helps you in case you are in this scenario. Now… off to work on some units!

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