What Do You Teach?

Inevitably, the first question I get when I say that I’m a teacher is Oh, what do you teach? My answer depends on how much—or little—I want to chat with the person. I can say that I’m a high school teacher.  This conversation normally continues on with remarks about how young I look and questions like if I ever get mistaken for a student.

Occasionally I will say that I teach high school Spanish. That brings another curious glance. In rural East Tennessee, speaking Spanish is quite a rarity. If the person seems particularly engaged, I might launch into the story of how I met my husband studying abroad in Chile or a funny anecdote from my class.

However, I know that you’re here because you’re an educator—probably a foreign language teacher—and you care about not only what I teach, but also how I teach it.

For you, I’ll elaborate on what I teach.

I teach high school Spanish I, II, and III. My classes are a mix of all grade levels (9th-12th). We are on a block schedule, so I have students for 85 minutes for half a year. In Tennessee, students are required to complete two semesters of a foreign language.

I teach in a tiny high school in rural Loudon County. It is a PreK through 12th grade school all in one building. There are approximately 220 students in the high school and about 14 high school teachers. Needless to say, I am a foreign language department of one.

Three years ago, I was hired as a student teacher to be the Spanish teacher of my school.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I never had a student teaching experience.  Talk about trial by fire.  I’ve never been one to do things as expected, so the first thing I did was banish all the dated textbooks and workbooks to the supply closet.  From the first moment, I knew that I wanted to make everything that my students used.  Little did I realize what a daunting task that would be.  However, I wouldn’t change it for anything.

I’ve had the creative freedom to pick and choose and design my curriculum, but I haven’t done it completely on my own.  I would be absolutely lost without the amazing Spanish educators that share their amazing brains with the Internet.  (I’m sure there will be a post soon about this).  Through this blog, I hope to give back to the #SpanishTribe community like so many others have done for me.

I’m no spoken word poet like Taylor Mali (seriously—this is my anthem for those bad days), but now you know a little bit about what I teach. The rest of the blog will be exploring the ever-important how of teaching a foreign language. From Teacher of the Year-worthy lessons to major flops, I plan to share it all with you.  I am by no means and expert; however, I’m glad that you’re here to experience the journey with me!