Gran Hotel Monday's - My personal contribution to improving school attendance on Monday's
I know I am late in jumping on the Gran Hotel bandwagon. There have been teachers using it for years in their classrooms. I only started in my AP classes last year, post AP exam. This year I decided to give Gran Hotel a bigger role in my AP classes. Note the top of our class t-shirt (designed and ordered by my students) pictured above.
Today is Monday, but we are off from school for President's Day. So, I figured today was the perfect day to share. Monday's are not the most popular day of the week. My 6 year old owns a shirt that says, "OK Monday, Let's Get This Over With". I am not overly energetic on Monday. My students have a difficult time with Monday's, too. I didn't choose Monday without a lot of thought to be Gran Hotel day. It was a purposeful decision.
First, let me say a few things for those who are shocked that I would take time out of AP to show a television show. The AP Spanish Language & Culture exam is nothing like the exam I sat for in the mid 1990s. (I realize I just dated myself a bit). There is no grammar section. It is unlike most other AP exams in that there isn't specific content to study. It is about language proficiency. There are six, very broad themes - Public and Personal Identities, Families and Communities, Global Challenges, Science and Technology, Contemporary Life and Beauty and Esthetics (these themes are the same for the current AP Language & Culture exams offered by College Board for other languages). When I first started teaching the AP course at my school during the 2013-2014 school year, I dedicated a day a week (Friday) to grammar review with the grammar book I was given by the previous teacher. By my third year of teaching the course, I moved grammar to Monday's and dedicated Friday's to Book Club (read more about that on my blog here, here and here.) We do interpretive listening practice, and free response tasks in the format of the AP exam Tuesday's, Wednesday's and Thursday's that relate to the AP themes, as well as projects, discussion of current events and watch related films. But, Monday's are regularly scheduled for Gran Hotel.
What does Gran Hotel Monday look like? It often starts with kids cheering "Gran Hotel, Gran Hotel" in the hallway on their way to class. I own the entire show on DVD, but it is also back on Netflix. I have my DVD set to start where we last left off. Sometimes we start right away, leaving us time at the end of class for reactions, retelling the story (can you say authentic, meaningful conversation with past tenses?) and often some tweeting. Check out some of our funny posts on Twitter - #GranHotel #APSpanchat and feel free to add to the conversation. Sometimes I screenshot from the segment we are watching ahead of time and put those on a Google Slide deck and we have a brief discussion on predictions (a great way to review the future and conditional tenses, as well as hypotheticals).
We usually watch without subtitles, in segments of 25-30 minutes two or three Monday's a month. If you are watching without subtitles, you might want to check out the student guides available on Teachers Pay Teachers created by Mike Peto and Kara Jacobs (check out Kara's blog - it is a wealth of ideas and resources).
Another great thing about Gran Hotel is that it can be fairly easily related to the AP themes. Discussing the family dynamic of a wealthy aristocratic family in early 20th century Spain clearly can be tied into the theme of Families and Communities. The role of women at the time goes well with the Public and Personal Identities theme and leads to great discussions and comparisons. That is a great way to work with vocabulary that will come in handy for the cultural comparison task on the AP exam. And, of course, the theme of Beauty and Esthetics can be tied into discussions of fashion and gender roles. The writing of the show itself is also related to this theme. Really, the connections you make are only limited by your creativity.
While I believe in limiting direct grammar instruction at the earlier levels, occasionally the AP classes ask for a day of grammar review, so maybe once a month, we do that on the "off Monday". But, I truly see an improvement in fluency and use of advanced grammar structures from the increase in Gran Hotel Monday's and the decrease of 'repaso de gramática' Monday's.
I have students who don't want to be absent on Monday. I like to think I am helping overall school attendance on Monday's. My students are engaged with a compelling show, listening to authentic Spanish. And, if you don't teach AP, I recommend you watch the show yourself. I see it as time spent improving my own language skills. The attractive cast doesn't hurt, either.
Do you watch Gran Hotel in class? Or just love the show? Share in the comments.
Warning - using Gran Hotel in class WILL lead to increased student engagement, better class attendance and language acquisition. I apologize in advance for any cheering students in the hallways of your school!
The other night, I was at "Juguemos", a game night event run by the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica at my school. It was such a lovely evening, of low stress fun for students. It didn't hurt that it was the night before the start of a four day weekend. There were a variety of table games, card games and ping pong tables. There was pizza and snacks. And, there was Spanish language music playing. Students were enjoying themselves, not buried in their phones & MacBooks. I am not the advisor for SHH at my school, but I was told that this was an inexpensive and relatively easy event to organize. I highly recommend planning something similar at your school. I brought my own children who are in 6th and 1st grade. We came with Battleship and this game I had picked up at Five Below around the holidays called HASHTAGIT Family Edition.
After playing a game of Battleship with my son (he won, though I am fairly sure he cheated), we decided to open up the HASHTAGIT game. It requires someone to be the "judge", along the lines of the game Apples to Apples. The players get five cards with hashtags that they can use to tag the image cards. The judge turns a card over from the picture deck and each player chooses their best option to go along with the image on the picture card. They are generally silly photos and you might have hashtags such as #BFFs, #SaturdayNight or #Happy. Sometimes you don't have one that goes really well with the picture card, but you have to choose from the cards in your hand. Once the players tag the picture, the judge chooses a winner. My children and I started out playing ourselves. I suppose it was our laughter, but within five minutes we had a colleague of mine, a student and a custodian join us. We had so much fun playing together. And everyone from age 6 to over 40 was laughing and enjoying themselves. I then began to imagine how it could be used in the classroom. I was thinking it could work as a quick brain break (check out Annabelle Allen's post on brain breaks on the Fluency Matters CI Peek blog) with a picture or two, dividing the class into teams. It could also work on a game day (game days are great when you are missing one section of the same class like often happens during things like state testing).
And, then it hit me - Picture Talk + HashTagIt. Picture Talk is much like Movie Talk, but with images rather than video. If you are not familiar with either, here is a great post on Picture Talk on the blog T.P.R.S. Q&A and here is a post by Martina Bex on Movie Talk. With novices, you can picture talk an image (providing necessary and vocabulary with comprehensible input) and then have them hashtag it in teams. I would suggest a teacher judge with Novices. In upper levels, you can take it a step further and not only have the students choose a hashtag, but also defend their choice. A student judge can also explain their rationale for choosing a winner.
I've created a Google Slide Deck for "El juego de hashtag" with one hundred images. On a Google Doc, I have a bunch of hashtags (I'm open to more ideas for hashtags, so please feel free to share in the comments). I printed the hashtags Doc, laminated each page and cut it into strips so they hold up. Feel free to use these in your classes. The slides can simply be used for Picture Talk if you don't have time to find an image on a given day. My own children helped me pick many of these images, though a few are from Gran Hotel and the new Disney movie Coco. One of the hashtags is #APSpanchat which is a hashtag we use regularly on Twitter in my AP classes (read about that here). Have fun and laugh in Spanish class! I can't wait to try out the game in my classes.
T'was the night before NECTFL , and my teacher self might normally be trying to come up with sub plans that would keep my students engaged while I am learning this weekend. Lucky for me, there are some great options out there.
For my new class of Spanish 1's there is the Calendario de Conjugarte from Zambombazo. These drawing activities are the perfect sub plan for novices. They are fun to do and afterwards make great room decor. Not to mention they give students a taste of some terrific art from the Spanish-speaking world.
For my intermediates, we are working on the Fluency Matters novel Felipe Alou: Desde los valles a las montañas by Carol Gaab. All of the Fluency Matters novels are so compelling and an excellent source of input. If you purchase the available Teacher's Guide, there are additional readings, activities and questions. Of course, the teacher is an essential part of working with a novel, but when you can't be in class, having the Teacher's Guide allows you to put together sub plans that give your students comprehensible input, even when you aren't able to directly provide it.
For my two sections of AP Spanish Language & Culture, the plan was actually the easiest sub plan to create of all. This year, in AP, we have a Friday routine - Book Club. (We have some other routines, too - check out the T-shirt in the pictures in this post. My amazing students designed and ordered a class T-shirt! Expect a future post on our Gran Hotel Monday's - by the way, if you have yet to watch Gran Hotel on Netflix, get on that, ASAP.) I wrote about "Book Club Friday's" last year, but it has evolved a bit from when I first began. Students still read a chapter a week, outside of class in preparation for 'Book Club'. We all read the same book for our first selection - Cajas de cartón by Francisco Jiménez. In class, we would have discussions in small groups, create #BookSnaps (thank you, yet again, Tara Martin for coming up with such a brilliant idea), and record our thoughts on Flipgrid. We were fortunate enough to get in touch with the author and he wrote a lovely email to us. Talk about impressing your students! We finished that book in December. So, I wanted to start reading a new book in January. Last year, we all read the same book again - this time La ciudad de las bestias by Isabel Allende. The students enjoyed that selection as well, but I was looking to take "Book Club" up a notch.
Over winter break, I came across the book Marina by Carlos Ruíz Zafón. I thought it could also work for a Book Club selection. As could Senderos fronterizos, the sequel to Cajas de cartón. How could I choose just one? Then, it hit me - I didn't have to. I would let the students choose. In each class, I have different groups reading their choice from the three options. On Friday's, they sit with their group, talking about what they read, creating with language, discussing the nuances of the story, sharing their opinions and predictions. It is beautiful to watch as a teacher. Friday's have become my favorite day of the week in AP and not just because it is almost the weekend. I am not the only one who loves Friday's in AP Spanish. One of my students was disappointed to be missing a Friday in AP Spanish while he went on a field trip!
Now, tomorrow is Friday. And I will not be in class. But, Book Club goes on, just as well, when I am not there. It is part of the genius of Book Club. Of course, it is better when I can be there to go around and talk to different groups, but the book club groups pretty much run themselves. Students have autonomy, they have something authentic to talk about and their proficiency, especially with interpretive reading is increasing. Recently, a number of students in my AP classes who have been a part of "Book Club Friday's" since September took ACTFL's AAPPL assessment to earn the Seal of Biliteracy from the state of New Jersey. Guess what they scored on the interpretive reading section. A - as in Advanced. I couldn't be prouder of them. And I can't wait to see their Flipgrid videos tomorrow, in real time, while I am at NECTFL. I will also be connecting with them via Twitter (live). We also use Twitter - a LOT in class. Check out our hashtag #APSpanchat and you can join in the conversation.
Do you have routines that work well into creating sub plans? Do you use book clubs in your language classes? Please feel free to share in the comments!
To Tweet, no not to Tweet, that is the question. Actually, it shouldn't be a question. Of course you should be on Twitter. It is a great professional development tool. If you are an educator, not on Twitter, you are missing out. There are countless hashtags to follow and chats to join in. Check out #langchat, #BookSnaps, #TLAP, #edcampWL, #PBLL and #MFLtwitterati to name just a few.
This year, I decided to take Twitter into my AP classes. Introducing #APSpanchat.
We have a weekly "slow chat" where students tweet and respond to their classmates about a given topic or question. On Friday's the question is posted. If you are considering setting up a Twitter chat with your classes, I highly recommend using Tweetdeck. It allows you to schedule your tweets and easily follow hashtags you are interested in. Here is a link to a great post about about Tweetdeck works. We spend less than five minutes at the start of the period on Twitter for our chat. It is our Friday "Do Now" (before we get to work on "Book Club Friday's - check out my post on what Friday's are like in my AP Spanish classes). This was an experiment in September. I wasn't sure how my students would respond. And, as it turned out, most of them had never been on Twitter before. So, there was a brief introduction to Twitter, an explanation about how chats work with Q1/A1 format and the importance of including our chat hashtag (#APSpanchat) in their response.
Once we were clear, we got on Twitter and started chatting. Now, I choose not to grade these Twitter chats. I like students to realize that not everything is about points, and our goal with this is a fun, new way to communicate with each other. I try to take time to individually respond or acknowledge the tweets that come in. With the Twitter app on my phone, I can do this whenever I have a few minutes of down time. Even without grading the tweets, everyone participates. They are engaged. They love reading the tweets of their classmates. A couple of times, other schools have joined in. I invite you to have your classes jump in, too (again, it's #APSpanchat).
After our "trial", I asked students to tell me honestly if they enjoyed the chats and thought they were valuable. The response was virtually unanimous that they wanted to keep tweeting. So, we are almost two months in and still going. Our chat has questions aligned to the course themes for AP Spanish Language & Culture. I try to make the questions related to the theme were are discussing in class in a given week.
I have decided to add to our use of Twitter, by retweeting and sharing interesting news stories and videos with my students. I tell them this is a great way to get small doses of target language practice. Many have also started following famous people in the Spanish-speaking world and get more exposure to authentic language.
The next step was to have them offer brief responses to the Spanish show we watch bi-monthly in class. If you want to see those, check out #GranHotel #JPSespañol (by the way, if you have never watched the show Gran Hotel, I highly recommend it).
Lastly, I recently used Twitter to connect with Francisco Jiménez the author of our current "Book Club Friday" selection Cajas de cartón. He was kind enough to respond to my tweet. My students were rather impressed that I got a response. He also linked his page on the Santa Clara University website. That, in turn, led to me writing him an email. He was so gracious as to respond and share some resources to use while teaching his books. My students were floored when I shared his response with them. They are even more interested in reading Cajas de cartón now. There is something special about hearing from the author of a book you are reading. And, this led to my sharing my initial email to Dr. Jiménez with the students. We looked at both my original message and his response and discussed writing professional emails. Even though this conversation was in Spanish, it really is a life skill. On the AP language exams, one of the free response tasks is an email response, so it also served the purpose of AP exam preparation - teacher win!
My next Twitter idea is to have my students tweet something meaningful to Dr. Jiménez. I apologize to him, in advance, for the number of tweets that may come his way.
Do you use Twitter for professional development? Do you use it in your classes? Please feel free to share in the comments!
The start of school is fast approaching for me (I realize that many of you might already be back to school). I wrote about how I wanted to try out using a digital breakout game with my AP classes as a team-building/icebreaker type of experience at the start of the year, likely during one of the first days of class. So I created the "Atrapada" breakout that I shared on here. I decided to also create one for my 9th graders. Most have been taking Spanish weekly in elementary school and then as a regular class in 6th through 8th grade. The proficiency target for that group is Intermediate Low.
I wanted to have something light and fun to work through while they got to know their classmates (we have two middle schools that send students to my high school, plus some upperclassmen can end up in the class if they had transferred in from somewhere else). I love Gente de Zona & Marc Anthony, so I decided to make a breakout based on the song "La Gozadera" because it is so catchy and mentions the countries of Latin America. So, here is a link to the site to play the game. Let me know what you think. I hope you can use it with your classes!
I recently had the opportunity to facilitate a training for teachers in my district on Google Slides. It was a training for k-12 educators who wanted to take their use of Google Slides to the next level. The feedback from workshop attendees has been positive and I wanted to share some of my favorite Google Slides features.
Poll Everywhere for Google Slides Extension
You might be familiar with Poll Everywhere - it is a tool that allows for live audience participation during a presentation (in the classroom, your students are the audience). How it works is simple - you ask a question, and your students can respond, in real time, on their device. As the responses come in, they are visible immediately to the audience. You can create a variety of different types of polls including multiple chose, free response questions, live word clouds and rank order. Once you add this extension to your Chrome browser, you will see that Poll Everywhere becomes an option on your menu bar on Google Slides. When you are ready to insert a poll into your slide deck, just click on Poll Everywhere and you will be able to create a new poll or insert a poll you have already created (you will need to log in to your Poll Everywhere account - you should create a free account if you don't already have one). After your poll is ready, you simply click on insert and the poll will be inserted into your slide deck. While you are editing your slides, it will look a bit odd and at the bottom you will see a grey bar that says "Start the presentation to activate live content". When you are in present mode, the audience will see how to respond to the poll and as they do, you will see the results in real time.
Interactive Slideshows using Google Slides
When most of us think of slideshows/slide decks, we imagine a series of slides that are viewed from the first to the last. But, Google Slides allows inserting links, not just to external websites, but to slides within a slide deck.
You simply insert a link on your slide to text or an image using the "chain" image on the menu bar or click on "Insert" and then "Link". You will have the option to link to any slide in your presentation. For organization purposes, I'd recommend you create all of the individual slides before setting up your links. What can you do with this? For starters, you can create an interactive quiz where you can have students review a topic or story. You ask a question with multiple options, and each option links to either a slide that tells them they have the correct answer or an explanation as to why their answer is incorrect. This way, students can get instant feedback. Students can also create their own interactive quiz slide decks to share with their classmates before an assessment.
Another way this can be used in the language classroom, is to have your students create "Choose Your Own Adventure" stories. I remember reading "Choose Your Own Adventure" stories as a kid and thinking it was so cool to be able to have different endings based on the choices you make as the reader. Students can write alternate endings to a story you are reading together or create their own story from scratch. What is important is to make sure they click on the links in the slideshow rather than to just click next slide while viewing. I had my students create "Choose Your Own Adventure" stories using Google Slides while I was missing a morning class for state testing. The afternoon classes spent the time creating these stories. They were so much fun to make and view as a class.
Jeopardy games can also be made on Google Slides where the links help you navigate the board. Here is Eric Curts' blog where he has templates that you can use to make your own five or six topic Jeopardy games.
Do you use the Poll Everywhere extension for Google Slides? Have you used any of these interactive slideshows in your classes? Do you have any other ways to use interactive slideshows? Feel free to share in the comments!
I have written before about creating digital breakouts. You can check out my post on creating digital breakouts here. (One small edit to that post - Google has changed the name of “data validation” to “response validation”.)
I recently attended a session in my district by Jen Fischer & Kristen Tsaoys about BreakoutEDU. Even though I consider myself fairly proficient in creating breakout games (thank you for that, Jen), I am always looking for new ideas. We played the “Trapped in the Classroom” digital breakout from the BreakoutEDU digital sandbox during the session which helped inspire me to create a new Spanish breakout with a similar concept. While on the Digital Breakouts page, I also noticed the “Stuck in the 80’s” game. As a bit of a lover of all things 80’s, I decided to play that one myself when I got home from the session. It took me longer than I would like to admit to figure out the “date lock”, but that game introduced me to Snotes which is a great tool for creating clues for breakout games, especially digital games. Snotes are a web-based, fun, creative and colorful way to deliver a secret message.
In our session, we discussed the idea of using a breakout game at the beginning of the year to help students get to know each other and practice cooperation and problem solving. As a teacher, they can also give you insight into your the personalities and strengths of your students. This insight can help with forming groups early in the school year as you get to know your students.
So, armed with a new idea, I set out to create new breakout games that could be used at the start of the school year (or anytime, really). I will be teaching two levels this school year - AP Spanish Language & Culture and an honors class of mostly 9th graders who have taken Spanish for several years, with a proficiency target of intermediate low. I am hoping to collaborate with some of my colleagues (I’m looking at you Sí Señora) to create one for the 9th graders. I am the only AP teacher in my building, so creating a breakout to start the year in AP was something I was willing to do on my own.
After attending the session, I also decided to go to Dollar Tree to purchase some toolboxes and locks to create hybrid games. My idea for this digital game is to give a key to the students who solve all of the puzzles and have them open one of the toolboxes. Inside I will have “Lo hicimos” (we did it) cards that they can take pictures with & some chupa chups lollipops.
Without further ado, I present “Atrapada en la clase de español”, a digital breakout game. I made it with AP in mind, but I think it could work in any upper level class. Let me know what you think of the game and feel free to comment or contact me if you would like a hint.
Happy breaking out!
The last month or so of the school year is often very hectic for teachers. We are working to complete our curriculum, wrapping up all of the end of year paperwork, finalizing grades. Deadlines surround us and it can feel like we are juggling several things at once. It is easy to get distracted. (It is also easy to neglect your blog.) Students are also anticipating summer break. And, as the weather warms up, it can become harder to focus. I often find myself in survival mode. But, one of my favorite things about teaching is that each school year comes to an end. We get time to process, reflect and recharge. And, it is all brand new again the following school year.
At the start of this school year, I was excited to have only two levels to teach for the first time in my career. I also did not have an extra class for the first time in four years. I had more time than I had been accustomed to. Of course, I used some of that time to get myself coffee (I am a hopeless caffeine addict).
Over the last few years, I had been implementing changes to my teaching. I have been moving away from a textbook centered curriculum and focusing my teaching on comprehensible input. And, after three years of teaching AP Spanish Language and Culture, I also felt comfortable enough to implement some changes. What that looked like in my classroom - a lot more reading. I used Fluency Matters novels with my ninth graders and two young adult novels in AP for “Book Club Friday’s”. I have never had so much fun teaching. Reading the novels lead to such rich class discussions. These discussions often lead to conversations about current events. I could not have planned it better to be discussing immigration with both my 9th graders while reading Esperanza and with my AP classes while reading Cajas de cartón in the months before a presidential election where it was one of the most debated issues. My students were acquiring vocabulary and language to discuss this complex topic. They enjoyed reading and having a class that wasn’t “normal”. My AP students became very confident in their reading ability and were not intimidated by that portion of the AP exam. I plan on continuing with the novels and the increased focus on literacy.
I would be remiss not mention our district’s new initiative - now every high school student is issued a MacBook Air. The addition of this level of technology was a bit intimidating at first, but it also was a complete game-changer for me. I had always considered myself to be fairly “techie”, but I wasn’t exactly sure how I would manage a room full of students with laptops. Our district also has G Suite for Education. With both of these tools, there were new ways to collaborate, new ideas and new apps to try. I was eager to embrace the technology. I knew it would be helpful in AP simply because my students would always have the ability to make a recording in class. I then spent lots of time looking for new activities, apps and project ideas. I also spent a lot of time with Jen Fischer, one of the tech coaches in my district. I would spend a prep period with her and come away with a new idea to try. And, I would try them all (just ask her - I would try just about anything). Some were more successful than others - Flipgrid, digital breakouts & #BookSnaps (if you are not following Tara Martin on Twitter, get on that ASAP) were huge hits - I know this from reading the end of year reflection surveys I had my students complete. A few were duds - 6 second videos were not what I had envisioned. Were there days where I would get frustrated with some students for playing games or translating everything they could on Google Translate? Yes. But, overall, I like to think I am utilizing the technology we are fortunate enough to have to improve learning and to make my own life easier.
More new ideas
In January, I started blogging. By February, I had become so comfortable with G Suite that I decided to become a Google Level 1 Certified Educator. From the training modules, I picked up lots of new ways to harness the power of this technology. By April, I had completed the modules for the Google Level 2 Certified Educator and passed that exam. It was then that I started trying some new projects that the technology allowed - student-created screencasts & iMovies, digital breakouts and Choose Your Own Adventure Google Slides presentations. These ended up being the highlights of the class for many of my students.
Now that it is nearly a month since school ended - not exactly sure how that time went by so quickly - and AP scores came out (I can happily report a 100% pass rate), I am starting to think, in earnest, about what I want my classes to look like next year. I am never satisfied. Instead, I am always looking to improve and for new ideas to engage my students. That doesn’t mean that I won’t be doing some of that while sitting by the pool.
Hope all of my fellow teachers are enjoying the fleeting moments of summer break!
Escape rooms are a popular activity that have now been modified for educational use. Breakout EDU has resources, lock box kits and other tools on their site. You can also create your own breakout box with items from Amazon.com. There are Facebook groups related to Breakout EDU and there is one called Breakout en español. They are a fantastic resource. And, if you don’t have access to an actual breakout kit, there is a digital breakout sandbox with ready made digital activities. You can also create a digital breakout of your own (see my blog post for some tips on how to create your own digital breakout).
I was Inspired by Breakout EDU and Martina Bex’s El Gordo Lottery Breakout. I decided to have my students create their own breakout puzzles for the novel ‘Felipe Alou: Desde los valles a las montañas’. I then put them together, creating a locked Google Form and a Google Site. We ended up with enough puzzles to create three separate games. During that class, the students worked in groups to ‘breakout’ - choosing which game to play. I had three classes reading the novel, so I mixed up the clues so no one class had the clues they created on a single game.
My students were quite creative and some of their clues were a bit elaborate. So, I decided to use their ideas as inspiration and create my own breakout game. I wowed them with conditional formatting on Google Sheets to create a ‘color lock’. I created some new puzzles and now I am ready to share it with the world.
Without further ado, here is the link to the breakout I created for the Spanish version of the Felipe Alou novel by Carol Gaab, published by Fluency Matters.
Felipe Alou Breakout
Feel free to contact me or let me know in the comments if you have any questions. Hope it is useful!
What could these two things have in common? Honestly, until a couple of weeks ago, I had never thought about the two together. But, here I am, almost three weeks post-op from foot surgery contemplating just this.
Acquiring a language is not like any other subject matter taught in schools (paraphrasing Bill VanPatten). It can look ‘messy’. In the beginning stages, there are struggles and good days. And, because everyone is different, the acquisition process does not look exactly the same for everyone. The same apparently goes for foot surgery. The healing process is different for everyone. And, little setbacks can change the course of recovery.
Because of the surgery, I was put on antibiotics to prevent infection. Up to that point, I had never had an allergic reaction to medication of any kind. Well, this time was different. I ended up having a fairly significant allergic reaction. That resulted in a trip to urgent care as well as steroid and antihistamine shots. The inflammation caused some issues with the surgical incisions and resulted in some delay in healing. My recovery has been a bit bumpier than I had anticipated.
Since I teach the Advanced Placement Spanish Language & Culture course at my school, I felt pressure (mostly in my own head) to return to work as quickly as possible with the AP exam quickly approaching in early May. I had the surgery on April 7, the day before spring break, in order to minimize my time absent. You might say I could have simply waited until after the AP exam or the summer to fix my painful foot issue (I do stand for a living). I generally am not great at putting myself first - most teachers tend to me ‘givers’. This time, I decided to take care of myself to improve my own quality of life long term. I also have two children of my own, and being a bit immobile in the summer would present a whole host of challenges. I had to consider my husband’s ability to take time off so I would have help at home early on. So, I strategically chose the date of my procedure.
I had initially thought of coming back to work the day we returned from break. Despite my doctor’s advice of taking at least one month off. My allergic reaction delayed that. I had agreed to present a technology workshop with a colleague the second day after break, so I didn’t want to let him down. I also didn’t want to not be there for my students who were gearing up for the AP exam.
As a general rule, I hate being out as a teacher, because it is usually more work to be absent than at school. I know many teachers who feel the same way. Luckily, technology and being a 1:1 school helped me stay connected to my students while being out. Thanks to MacBooks and Google, I was able to make screencasts with audio for my AP students to work with and then share them via Google Classroom. They were also able to record for me with these tools and Flipgrid. I loved seeing their videos - they seriously cheered me up as I was a touch frustrated having to be out for follow up appointments, etc.
For my ninth graders, I purchased several activities from Martina Bex’s teachers pay teachers store which provided compelling comprehensible input in the target language in my absence. It turns out my students would survive without me for a brief time (even though we all like to think we are irreplaceable). We are fortunate that we have so many resources to leave our students with worthwhile, comprehensible input when we need to be out.
Many of us teachers end up being out for health reasons, family leave, etc. I love teaching. I miss it when I am absent. And, having come back a bit soon, without being able to get around the way I normally do, has been interesting. I am a teacher who is constantly moving about the room. Right now I cannot do that. But, in a few weeks things should be closer to normal again. I just have to have some patience.
Just don’t tell my doctor I came back to work too soon.
High school Spanish teacher in NJ. Google for Education Certified Trainer. Always looking to try new things in my classes. Technology junkie.