Big White Bird

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1 thought on “Big White Bird”

  1. My plan for this…educating admins and colleagues is to have the kids educate them. I don’t exactly know how I’ll do it. I’m starting by giving mini-SLA chats / lessons to kids. They get it, because, in the words of a very wise 9th grade student in Spanish 1: “We know a lot of Spanish and we are not going home and studying at night.” Mic drop.

    We are nearing the end of quarter 1, so I will devote some time to “portfolio reflections” where they will look at their work, and notice how it is that they understand Spanish they hear and read. They will also have some SLA quotes and info to illustrate so we can post this stuff in the hallways alongside some of their characters and such (BTW…speaking of characters, a 9th grade student asked “When are we going to make those? ‘Swole Bowl’ (invisible from last year) was the highlight of my school tour in 8th grade!”). It would be super cool to make a big “learning vs acquiring” chart smack in the middle of the wall across from my room.

    Another part of my “staff education process” happened about a month ago in an in-service. We are in the middle of yet another “acronym flavor of the week” initiative involving QPA (quality performance assessment) design and validation. ICK. We spent *all year* last year “designing” and “validating rubrics.” But some of us didn’t get to present ours, so we did this a month ago. I was dreading it. BUT…it could not have gone more perfectly!!!

    I am the only WL teacher in the whole district. No elementary or middle school language. Just me for 4 years (aka 4 semesters, sometimes more). I was paired with the wood shop teacher and the cooking teacher, all 3 of us are “elders” in our professions. There was a strict protocol for the sharing which we promptly ignored unless the facilitator was walking over then I’d say “Here she comes Judy” and we’d play along. Judy (50 year veteran teacher) leans over to me and whispers “What a load of bull#$%&!”

    When it came to my turn I gave them a 5-7 minute preamble on the nature of language so they’d understand my rubrics and “grading” system, especially the fact that I do not set a certain “level” for kids to reach by a certain point in time. If students complete the task (say a listen and draw, or whatever) at their current level, they receive full credit for their work. It cannot be otherwise if I am truly facilitating acquisition. Fortunately I had some actual student samples from a recent listening assessment. I explain that all my assessment contain new material bc I am not interested in what they may have been able to memorize or “remember.” Anyway, THEY BOTH TOTALLY GOT IT!!!!! They checked off all the boxes to “validate” me and more importantly they completely understand how and why I do what I do!!!

    It will be a bigger leap to bring this to the more “academic” teachers, but I figure I have nothing to lose. I am planning to do a short demo in Mandarin for the group so they will feel viscerally what this all involves. I would like to also present to the school board so they will finally give me permission to change the freaking course descriptions on the website that are from the dark ages (I have submitted updated ones each year for the past 4 years, and …crickets…).

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