SO, WHAT DID I LEARN? Firstly, I learned that I have been my biggest obstacle in the past. Yes, me! Which really surprised me because I have given many presentations and written many blog posts on establishing routines, classroom management, teaching culture, and more, all in the target language! Nevertheless, this mental roadblock kept me from even trying to shoot for 90-100%, though in looking back, my classes have always ranged 75-80% in the TL on average anyway- so why was I afraid of that 10-15% bump? I truly believed that my students would be too frustrated, that there were some things that just couldn't be done in the TL, and, most importantly, my relationships with my students would suffer. I'm not alone here- Wendy Farbaugh wrote a great blog post expressing similar emotions!
THE TRUTH IS, my fears were unfounded- I developed strong relationships with my incoming Kindergartners and maintained and built upon those I already had with my First through Fourth grade students. Lessons I had firmly convinced myself couldn't be done in Spanish because they were too full of unfamiliar language became lessons that, with creativity and thought on my part, were conducted entirely in Spanish or with only a few switches into English to establish meaning. Except for very specific situations, I addressed all behavioral issues in Spanish, as well as lice, bloody noses, wracking coughs, vomit alerts, tears, and missing pets (did I say elementary school?). In essence, I took what I had already been doing and made the commitment to do it more, and more consistently.
SO, HOW DID I DO IT? Here's the meat of the matter, and really deserves a post all on its own- or several! (Stay tuned, that's the plan!) Here's a overview, visually presented:
WHAT WILL I CHANGE FOR NEXT YEAR? The biggest thing I need to do, in my opinion, is teach my students strategies for learning in a 90% classroom right from the beginning of the year. Although 'eyes on me' and 'focus' are always important, my students really needed the 'why?' behind these strategies, which I didn't fully understand until about mid-October. Explicitly teaching strategies helps them and me hone in on what they (and I) need to do to ensure success for everyone.
UPDATE: See our post on building a partnership with students to support success in a 90% TL classroom! Click here to read!
HOW'S THIS FOR EXCITING?! Join us for our 3 WEEK CHALLENGE 'Hitting the 90% Target' starting January 2 on Facebook! We'll get you started transitioning to a 90% in the Target Language Classroom with these mini goals and tasks! Click here to join the event.