Sunday, April 10, 2016
So You Use A Textbook...Stop Judging Yourself
You use a textbook for whatever reason--you're new, your district says you have to, all your teachers used them, you like it, you teach 100's of students and pee only during your lunchtime of 10 minutes. The list goes on. With on-going conversations about what proficiency is and what's the 'best' way to get there, it can be tough if you're at the beginning of making a shift in your teaching or are already mid-stream. So. Let it go. Stop judging yourself. You don't need to apologize. We're all learning and growing. Did you see my post on when things go wrong? Seventeen years in, I'm still wrestling with this and continuing to learn.
One of the most freeing things I've heard along my teaching journey is that you control the textbook--not the other way around. It's a resource. What can we do with it? Some questions to explore: Can we take the good cultural stuff at the end of chapter and use it as input and to pique interest at the beginning the unit? What about writing an essential question and can-dos for the chapter? How about scanning Pinterest for some rich authentic materials that go along with the chapter theme and support cultural competency and provide needed input? Is it possible to write an IPA or some performance based formative assessments? Do you have the freedom to re-order or combine some chapters to create a unit? Do the students have to have the unit's whole vocabulary list or can you get that paired down so they can focus on function? How to flesh out the three modes--are there plenty of opportunities for communicative tasks?
Personally, I am in the process of writing my own units. The amount of time this takes plus teaching sometimes overwhelms me. Using a textbook may be the resource that is allowing you to address other teaching duties (Hello carpool and committees! Recess supervision anyone?).
During the process of writing this, Colleen Lee-Hayes sent me this post . Colleen is a #langchat moderator and teacher I respect--her words on judging ourselves are balm for the language teacher's soul.
Teaching for proficiency is a mindset, not a material. You control the text, not the other way around. Let's drop the judgement.