Hey friends! It’s been a minute. I thought I would take a few weeks off from this little Blogcito, and those few weeks turned into an entire summer, and boy did I need the rest. Now I’m back and I’m feeling recharged and I’d like to tell you a story.
A true story
3 years ago, in a Spanish 1 class, I had this not-so-darling Little Darling. (And come to think about it, he wasn’t so little either). You know the kid- who could medal in eye rolling and scoffing and making nasty comments under his breath. “Too cool for school” was an understatement and it obvious to everyone that he didn’t like Spanish (GASP!) and wasn’t too fond of me either.
About 4 weeks into the year, I looked him square in the eye and said, “I am going to win you over, Jay. You just watch” and he responded, “Good Luck”. And because my husband often compares me to a Golden Retriever who just won’t leave it alone, I was like “GAME ON!”
About mid year, because Jesus loves, things turned around miraculously. During class we were chatting about talents and I was targeting the verb “puede” (she or he can) and asking who can dance and who can run really fast and who can sing…and one kid let it slip, “Jay can rap”. HOLD UP-W H A T?! Evidently the WHOLE CLASS knew that this one, the one I’ve been relentlessly trying to win over, with no progress at all, writes and produces rap songs. Thank you, Jesus!
So after class, I asked him if he’d rap for us. AND HE SAID YES! Actually he said, “Well, I do have one song without that much swearing. OK.” And so the following class, he brought a speaker, and played a track and rapped for us. And there I was, sitting first row with tears streaming down my face. And of course the class went wild and Jay beamed and that was the day everything turned around.
Yesterday I opened up my new class rosters and, lo and behold Jay is in my Spanish 4 class this year! I can’t even tell you how excited I am to get to teach him again. (And I am totally hoping for an encore performance!)
Reminders for a new school year
This story really isn’t about Jay el rapero and his not cool at all Spanish teacher. It’s about you and your students.
We’ve all had that kid and I’m certain we will all have that not-so-darling Little Darling this year too. Remember that the eye rolling and scoffing and nasty remarks really aren’t about us or our beloved language class. Everyone one of our Little Darlings needs to be seen and known and have a safe spot to belong..and if they acquire language along the way, awesome. For most of them, winning them over happens pretty easily in our classes…language class is all about building community and getting to know our students and creating situations where they shine. Passwords and Estrellas del Día and Special Applauses and chatting in Spanish will take care of like 98% of them…but even though we cast a wide net, there are those kiddos, and will be those kiddos, who aren’t so easily won over. They’re guarded and suspicious and for whatever reason, need the protection of that tough exterior.
We can strong arm them and have a disciple plan with clearly explained consequences. But I’m certain that wouldn’t have worked with Jay. He came in looking for a fight and I am 100% certain he would have won any power struggle that initiated. But 16 years of teaching has taught me this: Proactive beats reactive every time.
My encouragement for you is this: go after those ones with the tenacity of a golden retriever who really wants that tenis ball. Whether you say it out loud or not, figure out how to win them over. Get to know them. Learn what makes them tick and lean hard into that. Make your class the place where they get to shine.
And I promise you…it will make the year so much better for you both.
Here’s to a great year!
PS- If thinking about classroom management gives you the sweats, 9 Lessons Learned might give you some tools to head into the classroom confidently this year.