I used to be one of those teachers who was all about kids coming in to class and getting started right away on their warm up activity…but not any more! We used to practice the routine of coming in quietly, taking their assignment from the tray by the door and getting to work immediately…but not anymore! They told me that good teachers have bell ringers so that’s what I did religiously for years…but not anymore!
Yes, it’s nice when they march in like little soldiers and get down to business without talking….but it doesn’t really foster the community feel I’m going for. I had this epiphany at a staff meeting as I was observing my colleagues enter the meeting: they meander in, visit and chat with the people at their table for a few minute, then settle down when the principal moves to the front of the room to start the meeting. Imagine if your principal insisted you walked into your staff meetings silently, sat down and got straight to work?! That would NOT go over well at my school! We’re happy to see each other and get a minute to catch up. Our kiddos need that too!
So…here’s what our new start of class routine looks like now:
Before school starts, I set up my screen, which takes no time at all because of this nifty tech trick I learned from La Maestra Loca. Add the One Tab extension and open all the tabs you use everyday. Then hit the tiny blue funnel icon at the top of your screen and it saves all the tabs as a list. Then, every morning, you just turn on your screen, click your magic blue funnel icon and all your preprogrammed tabs open up and are ready to go! It is amazing.
One of my programmed tabs is a YouTube playlist of Entrance songs- fun songs with clean Music Videos. I pick a new one one every day for our “Song of the Day” and I right click it to play on loop. As soon as the video ends, it magically starts again. (There’s some sort of Ad Blocker on my school computer, so just the song plays, no ads, thankfully 🙂
Here’s my playlist of Entrance songs– These videos are deemed appropriate for my kiddos in my community…you better preview them just to make sure they’re appropriate for your kiddos in your community! Don’t want anyone getting in trouble around here!
As students file into my classroom, I’m at the door, greeting my Little Darlings. They say the Password, I give them a High Five and they come in. Having that moment with each kiddo is a really a special thing. And since they’ve got a Music Video entertaining them as they walk in, I don’t feel bad if I need to take a few extra moments with the girl who asks for a hug or the boy who wants to tell me about his game or…)
Once I greet and High Five everyone, I come up to the front of the classroom and hit the mute button on my keyboard. The mute trick is my most favorite, earth shattering teacher hacks I learned from the One and Only Fabulous La Maestra Loca. It’s so brilliant…you leave music playing all class long, and when you want it quiet, just hit the mute button on your keyboard! You do your thing, show your slideshows, load them up with comprehensible input…and they have no idea the same song is playing on loop ALL CLASS LONG, ALL DAY LONG! Then, when it’s time for a transition, or kids are moving around, or working in small groups, or whenever you want some jams, just hit the mute button again and instantly there’s MUSIC! There’s no opening a new tab, looking for a song, having students holler out their suggestions, waiting for an ad to play, weird youtube video pictures below your search field….Nope, the Song of the Day is always there, ready for you. I showed this trick to my University Method’s students this week and their minds exploded. For reals, you’ve got to try this one!
After I hit mute, I flip over to another preprogrammed tab that is always waiting for me each class- it’s my Start of Class/End of Class slide show to facilitate the start of class chit chat. Some teachers start class by chit-chatting in English with their kiddos before switching into their target language and getting down into business…I tried it and I didn’t like it. I’ve found with the support of my slideshow, we’re able to talk about how they’re doing and what’s going on while staying in Spanish, even in level 1, even from the very beginning of the year. For me it felt weird insisting they try to stay in Spanish when we start the class chatting in English. To each her own! Do what works for you and your Little Darlings!
The first slide is the pledge in Spanish. My school does the pledge every middle block, so for most classes, I just skip over that slide, but it’s there when we need it. Then we chat about how they’re feeling. My goal is lots of input, so I’m asking, “Who is tired?” (and kiddos raise their hands) and then I ask a specific kid, “Are you a little tired or very tired?” then I pick another emotion and ask again. I milk it as long as I can before switching to the next slide.
Then we discuss the weather… Is it snowing? Look class! Look out the window! Is it snowing?! Nope! It’s not snowing today! Do you think it will snow tomorrow? Rather than doing a “weather unit” all at once, we’ll just chat about the weather for a few minutes every day. Somethings come up that are not on the slide, so I’ll keep things “in bounds” by writing up on the board “Va a nevar- it’s going to snow” so we can talk about what’s happening without breaking into English.
Then we talk about what day it is and who’s absent. That’s when I confirm that the absent student’s partners have done their job.
Then we chat about what’s new…what games there are, who’s having birthdays, that kind of stuff…
Then finally, I give them the quick overview of our plan. Today we’re going to dance and then we’re going to read and then we’re going to play a game. I point to the pictures as I describe what we’ll do for the day. I don’t change the pictures every class…it has a bunch of pictures of the things we do most frequently and I just tell the Little Darlings our plan for the day. Mostly I want them to get a million repetitions of “Vamos a …”
Then we transition into our class activities- maybe it’s creating a One Word Image, maybe a Movie Talk or Picture Talk or free reading or whatever. I’ve got 90 minute block periods, so I’ve got time to milk the chit-chat routine…usually we go 10-15 minutes. It’s a smooth, natural feeling way to get class rolling before we get down to business, but at the same time reinforcing the fact that we’re all about Spanish around here and we’re going to be using as much Spanish as we can! During the last minute of class, I put up the last slide, it’s what I say to them at the end of class and what they respond to me before they leave.
And that’s that. That’s what works for us to start and end class smoothly and to help us stay in Spanish (and give them lots of exposure of all that vocab that they feel like they should learn in Spanish 1!) If there are things you’d like to add or personalize on the slide show, all you have to do is click “Make a copy” and you’ll be able to edit your heart out! And if you teach a language other than Spanish, and you’d like to translate it, I’d love to share it here for other teachers!