things I wish I knew about teaching Spanish

5 Things I Wish I Knew About Teaching Spanish

Are you beginning a new career as a high school Spanish teacher? After college and student teaching, I thought I knew what I was getting into! But as the saying goes, “Age before wisdom”! Wow have I learned a lot! And for anyone who thinks they could use the tips you don’t learn in college, here are my top 5 things I wish I knew about teaching Spanish when I started!

Things I Wish I Knew About Teaching Spanish #1

There are a lot of things you will teach besides Spanish, and most of them are way more important!

In school, we teach out students so many things, like how to be good listeners, how to show respect to others, how to advocate for themselves, how to study, how to send an email, etc. We also teach other people besides our students. We teach families how to help their children succeed. We teach colleagues and administrators how they can treat us by the boundaries that we set.

Until we teach all of these things, we can’t teach our students much Spanish!

Things I Wish I Knew About Teaching Spanish #2

Don’t assume your students know things.

Even after all these years, I am sometimes surprised at what I take for granted that students know. For example, many students don’t know what a layover is when traveling. I realized that a lot of students were getting a question wrong on an assessment because they didn’t know what that was.

Vocabulary words, references, study skills…. there are a lot of things that our students may not know. It’s important to be vigilant and as culturally aware as possible so that we don’t make assumptions that could negatively impact their ability to show what they’ve learned.

Things I Wish I Knew About Teaching Spanish #3

Everything changes.

This is true in life but especially in the field of education. Every year we have new students, new initiatives, new colleagues and every few years we have new curriculum! Teachers need to be able to roll with the punches and adapt quickly.

Another area that evolves for Spanish teachers is trends in how to teach language to students. Right now, proficiency-based instruction seems to be the biggest trend. Time will tell if it turns out the be the BEST way. Mastery-based learning (and grading practices) is another popular trend. It can be very difficult for teachers to change and adapt to ways that are different than the way that we were taught. It’s not for the faint of heart!

Things I Wish I Knew About Teaching Spanish #4

Technology is not all it’s cracked up to be.

During the pandemic, technology was the only way we had to connect with our students. But post-pandemic, many students are tired on learning on computers. The online games we can use for Spanish class are great, but like anything, the novelty wears off fast. I also find that language learners have a huge temptation to cheat when they are using technology to complete assignments.

Worst of all, your BEST lesson plan that you were prepared to do for your observation can go completely awry when the Internet goes down! Or when 4 kids come in with their Chromebooks not charged and 2 forgot them.

So, one of the things I wish I knew about teaching Spanish earlier on was to diversify and not to rely so heavily on technology!

Things I Wish I Knew About Teaching Spanish #5

You will need to manage the love and devotion you feel for your students.

What??? This may sound like a weird one. But one of the biggest things I wish I knew about teaching Spanish is that my heart and my bandwidth don’t match up. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m getting older, or if it’s because the demands of our job have changed so much, but I have had to learn to shut off. I am still not great at it.

I have students every year who I am particularly concerned about. I have to try really hard to leave that worry at school.

There are decisions made by administrators that I don’t feel are in the best interest of teachers and/or students. I have had to learn to choose my battles carefully.

All of my fight and all of my worry comes from a place of love and devotion to my students and what is right for them. But the world is not a perfect place. Sometimes I have to prioritize my own needs and those of my family. My family deserves to have a present and energetic mom/wife/daughter/sister. And we teachers deserve some peace and time to unwind. I think this will always be a challenge for me!

How about you? Do you have any wisdom to add to this list? I’d love to hear from you! Send me an email at contactspecialtyspanish@gmail.com.

Resources

Free Resource Library

Spanish Class Parent Engagement Docs: Start the Year With Parents On Your Side!

Open House Night Presentation for Spanish Classes: Interactive Google Slides

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things I wish I knew about teaching Spanish
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