The first week of Spanish class is intimidating! The start of the year is so exciting and nerve-wracking for everyone involved. Teachers are setting up their classrooms, students are preparing their backpacks, everyone’s picking out that first day of school outfit.
That first day comes, and runs into the first week. Maybe you run out of water during the day, or your body’s forgotten how to wait until planning time to run to the restroom. You arrive home each day, exhausted from the engagement you’ve put in at school during the day.
When it comes to planning, there are a million blog posts out there about prepping for the first day of school. The reality is, you should focus on what matters most in that first week of Spanish class.
Looking for more about lesson planning in general? Check out this blog post about quick-and-easy planning.
Teach what is most important to you.
Yes, I want my students to know my syllabus, but if I teach all my expectations all at once, they won’t have the opportunity to practice and engage. I’d rather they learn how the class works on a day-to-day basis, teach routines as they come up, and focus on what matters most to me.
Looking for resources? Check out my back-to-school bundle here.
When planning for that first week of Spanish class, I focus on my big three important items:
- We are a team
- We speak Spanish as much as possible
- We respect one another
As you’ve probably heard, the first week of class sets the tone for what you expect in your classroom. It is never too late to make a change (read here about mixing things up any time of year), but helping your students understand your expectations from the start will make the year easier for everyone.
Do you teach multiple levels? During the first week, I teach the same thing to all my levels, with slightly different vocabulary. Check out this blog post about prepping multiple levels.
We are a team.
We’re all in the same classroom, supporting each other. I teach my students that we are a team by reminding them that “él que lucha gana,” “somos luchadores” and building a sense of collaboration and support.
Using phrases like “él que lucha gana” or “somos luchadores” quickly teaches my students phrases they can use to support each other when someone makes a mistake, or is hesitant to use Spanish in class.
We speak Spanish as much as possible.
It is Spanish, class after all. In the first week of class, I use circling questions and personalized questions to engage students as much as possible. I use graphics, drawings, and pre-made resources to support students’ language use.
I explain language acquisition theory, and encourage my students to use Spanish to practice as much as possible. Once they realize that they can’t memorize vocabulary and grammar to actually acquire a language, they start to adjust their thinking and use what they know. This can take time, so don’t worry if your students are just taking things in and responding in English at first.
Nervous about teaching in Spanish? Don’t be. Overcome your fears with this blog post about teaching all Spanish, all the time.
We respect one another.
I know, this seems like a given. What I do to encourage this is hold students accountable. What does accountability look like in terms of respect?
- One student speaks at a time
- Students listen when someone is speaking
- Students repeat when asked to
- Students remind the teacher and peers to use Spanish when we forget
- Using students’ preferred names as much as possible (these name tents help)
- Redirecting disruptive or disrespectful behavior
- Using consequences and explaining why students are receiving a consequence
- Being consistent: students trust consistent adults, and they know what to expect (and what you expect) when you’re consistent