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Teaching with Novels

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Meet Sra. Wienhold

10 MORE things I Learned my 3rd Year Teaching

Exactly 1 year ago I posted 10 things I Learned my 1st 2 Years Teaching. Now that I have year 3 under my belt I am going to add a few more to the list. Everything on my original list below is still true. 
  1. Listen to your students. 
  2. Be Flexible. 
  3. Network with other teachers 
  4. Have Balance in your life. 
  5. Fail. 
  6. Laugh at yourself.
  7. Stay Calm. 
  8. Baby Steps
  9. Ask for help.
  10. Have Fun! 
Reflecting on these, this year I listened to my Spanish IV when they were burned out on choice homework and needed a break. I had to be flexible when I did not have a class schedule until the first day of school. I have grown to network with so many more teachers around the world, who have pushed me to be better. I still need to work on having balance, because if you ask my husband says teachers NEVER stop working (true). I have had my share of failures this year (stubbornly not turning on the subtitles, giving up on a rowdy class & not being prepared to name a few), but each one taught me a valuable lesson. I laughed and made a fool of my self, while also staying much calmer than years past. I baby stepped my way into having novels as the center of my curriculum and do not plan on turning back. I need to work on asking for help, but I had a ton of fun with a group of students I will really miss. 

So here are 10 MORE things I learned my 3rd year teaching

  1. Adapt.
    • It is ok if you realize that you spent your whole first year teaching wasting everyone's time with outdated grammar drills and workbook pages, just as long as you adapt and positively move forward. There will be many things you chose to change on your own, and many adaptations that will be forced on you by the administration. You just have to learn to just roll with it and not take things too personally. Programs and fads in education will keep coming in and out, so just learn how to out a smile on your face and make the best out of every situation.
  2. Embrace Phones & Social Media.
    • As I recently posted Snapchat is not the enemy, but this also applies to Twitter, Instagram and phones in general. I have learned that is you build a trusting community where everyone is treated like an adult everything works out a lot better. Instead of disrupting an entire class and lesson by "catching" a student texting, allow them to ask you when there is downtime if they can text their mom that basketball practice has been cancelled. Am I perfect at this? No. With the more open policy I get ticked off if students choose to not ask and hide like they are doing something they are not supposed to. Before we were 1:1 I TOLD students to bring any and all devices to class to use for Kahoot and other Internet activities. 
  3. Google Classroom rocks.
    • If you are a gafe school where students have gmail accounts, you need to use Google Classroom. It is very user friendly and makes students turning in assignments so easy as a teacher. In just a year they have listened to teacher feedback and made many improvements. 
  4. Plan by Unit. 
    • I know that as a first year teacher many of my plans were week by week, day by day or even hour by hour. If possible try to sit down and roughly plan out an entire unit at a time, with the end goal in mind. I have an example here of one unit. It is so much easier to move forward when you have a roadmap and destination in place in advance. 
  5. Allow Student Choice.
    • Whenever possible give students a voice and choice in their learning. Whether it is choice homework, allowing them to do individual novel study, or the opportunity to pick their final exam, students flourish when they are in the drivers seat. See all my posts here for student choice. It can be as simple as allowing each class the option of how they want to read chapter 2 of a novel: alone, in pairs, or as a class. If you ask for feedback on what they want to do, students know you care. 
  6. Get out there. 
    • Present at a conference. Start a blog. Do not think for a second that as a new teacher you are not capable enough to share what you know. It is scary, but so is anything in life that is worth doing. No one expects you to be an expert in your field, but you have a unique and fresh voice that we would love to hear!
  7. Write a grant.
    • Along with putting yourself out there, write a grant to earn money about something you are passionate about. I decided I wanted to shift away from the textbook and create a classroom library, so I wrote and received three grants in two years to do so. Someone asked me if I was told to write these by high ups. No. It was something I was passionate about and wanted, so I decided to make it happen. What is the secret? Just Write It!
  8. Dive in Head First.
    • I know this is the opposite of the baby steps above, but sometimes you have to plug your nose, close your eyes and dive off the high dive (or in this case speak Spanish 90%+ of the class). Maybe you will not dive into something new your first year teaching, but isn't the whole first year basically a series or dives, belly flops and flips off the high dive?! Is it terrifying? Absolutely, but sometimes if you are going to make a major change, there is no slowly sliding in. 
  9. Have an Escape.
    • As teachers we are 110% committed to our job. We spend out nights, weekends and summer prepping, planning. and buying things to make our class the best ever. Yet, if you commit 110% all the time you will burn out pretty quick. Find something that you can do to get away, whether it is reading, crafting, running or if you are link me, vegging on the couch and watching Netflix with my hubby after the little guy is in bed. Getting away with Olivia Pope, Piper Chapman and Kimmy Schmidt may not be an all inclusive resort, but it is a break from teacher life. 
  10. Move on.
    • If you get to a point that you are no longer being challenged professionally, it is time to move on. Do what is best for you and your family and do not let anyone or any job hold you back. It is tough to start over, but that is how you learn and grow. 
What did you learn your first years teaching? Please share in the comments!


  1. I've learned a few things since I've come back to teaching Spanish:
    1. What works beautifully one year may flop the next. For me it was going deskless. I LOVED it in my small classroom but it did not work out in my big room.
    2. There's no need to reinvent the wheel. I found some great resources on Teachers Pay Teachers that I bought and inspired me to create my own for other lessons.
    3. Take the time to teach "basic" technology skills. I use GAFE in my classroom and it takes a class period to teach how to USE the different apps and how to share files.

    1. Yes! Thank you for sharing! I should have added to not reinvent the wheel, as I openly tell my students that 80% of what we do in class was created by someone else! Also, the basic technology is a big one as well. Just because they use technology, does not mean they know how to use technology for school learning!
      Thank you for reading! - Allison

  2. After my first year, I have learned a few things as well:
    1. Definitely, not to reinvent the wheel. Like other readers I used Teachers Pay Teachers quite a lot as well other websites/blogs that sell or have free resources ready to use (Zachary Jones-hello?).
    2. Take it slow. With so many assemblies and activities at my school, sometimes I wanted to teach everything in my curriculum, but I realized that students had a hard time retaining information thrown at them just for the sake of covering stuff quickly. They just didn't learn this way.
    3. Make it fun. Sometimes verb drills just didn't work for a lot of my students. So switching it with a scavenger hunt where they had to work together to conjugate the verbs in the sentences correctly worked way better.
    Some of my goals for this coming school year is NOT to use textbooks. I used them very minimally this year, but I do not want to use them at all. Same thing with the workbooks. My students absolutely hated them. Also I want to learn to find balance in my life. I'm not married yet, but sometimes I'd get caught up trying to get a lot of work done and have a breakdown when more work appeared. Thanks for this blog, Allison; it has helped me keep things in perspective and my sanity in check during my first year as a teacher.

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