Thus far I’ve gotten a lot of good wisdom and insight into how to handle kids, classes, planning, and grading. Unfortunately the situation with the variance in French levels was caused by the former French teacher with whom I am in a sticky situation (more on that later). So I am still planning a ton- I decided I am going to use more of the book and series’ material, even though I don’t like it. I can supplement it some days more than others, and cut out parts that are irrelevant. That would help make a little bit less work for me.
I was searching on the internet and stumbled across some specific advice a seasoned French teacher was giving a new one. It’s on teachers.net, a great site I’ve come across before while searching for education questions. The question is here First-Year Teacher- Help! and a teacher gives some really good tips in her response. Here are some I particularly liked:
Trying TPR which is new to this 1st year teacher– She said don’t trouble yourself with new methodologies you are not familiar with. Bookmark areas where you could use it and look it over to use next year.
What to focus on planning before school starts- Really, I did not plan well enough before school started, but I have my excuses (accepting the job offer kind of late, thinking I would be able to get better materials, and more) but I could have planned more units to use. The veteran teacher suggests doing the work to plan out preliminary units so you know where you’re heading. It would help me personally to have better resources (ie from after the year 1998)
What kind of homework for French 1– I like what she says about trying to not give busywork, instead to help reinforce what was gone over in class. I also think it’s good to have exercises that check student’s ability to understand and use the material- not just to repeat and repeat and memorize. My supervisor during student teaching reminded me to keep the purpose in mind with homework “Why? What will the gain out of it? Is it collected and how is it graded? How can they learn from it?”
She also talks about using effective bell ringers and calling out a “pack leader” who might be spurring misbehavior. I have heard a million times to start out harsh and “don’t crack a smile until January” so I’ve done my best to be both firm and fair. Overall the thread was a nice read.
I definitely think more appropriate mentoring would be nice in my situation, and for many new teachers. There is a lot of little side work that I didn’t know I’d have to do, and that’s fine, but some of it isn’t explained to me and I have to go about finding who to ask in the first place.
I’m pretty sure I’m not getting paid enough 🙂 But I guess if I stick with it it’ll get easier, and then if I stick with it for a few years it will really pay off. I can always hope!