Welcome to my second post during the interminable and challenging month of March. While we're past the half-way mark, veteran teachers know for a fact that the second half of the month feels at least twice as long as the first half. N'est-ce pas? Therefore I'm sharing strategies to combat March Madness and promote March Sanity, because March drives me a special kind of crazy. In last week's post I encouraged readers to try putting down the red pen and assessing student work without marking it up. Has anyone taken the plunge? What'd you think??
When I'm not too grumpy or busy to notice, March actually turns out to be a great month for taking stock. Therefore my second sanity tip is to provide an opportunity to celebrate your students' progress. Now is the time to step back and appreciate how far they (and you!) have come. We need celebration to fuel us forward into spring, to help us believe that we're getting somewhere, and to feel a sense of accomplishment.
Here are some ideas for taking stock:
1. Ask students to journal (in English) about what they've learned this year. What can they do now that they couldn't do back in September? What are their hopes and dreams for the rest of the year? Reading this kind of journal entry and writing a bunch of short, upbeat responses always buoys my spirits.
2. If you have access to student work from the beginning of the year (Google Classroom? Anything you might have copied for your teacher evaluation process? Students with overstuffed binders they've never cleaned out?!), give students the opportunity to review a piece of their own beginning-of-the-year work alongside a current piece of work. Ask what they notice. Ask how they feel.
3. Have students revisit the goals they set for themselves in September, if they've done this with you (and if not, here's a great website that will help you do this next year). Have they met their goals, or perhaps even exceeded them? Maybe it's even time to set new, more ambitious goals to meet before year's end.
4. If your course has a proficiency target, review what the target looks like in your language, and have students review a piece of recent work according to that standard. In what ways are they showing characteristics of Novice High / Intermediate Low / Intermediate Mid / etc. learners? How are they advancing on the Path to Proficiency?
I hope this sanity tip will encourage you to "hop off the hamster wheel" just long enough to see all that you and your students have achieved this year. All that growth helps us hold our heads up a little higher so that we can plow forward.
Keep reading for more sanity tips later this month.