Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Compañeros de conversación

Entering a new position in a different school district I knew I wouldn't have the same level of proficiency nor confidence among the student body that I had leaving my position of 19 years. I discovered that students really lacked confidence in speaking. I spent the first seven weeks pushing discussion to get them to a level of structured spontaneous conversation (I know that's not a logical statement), while engaging my resources abroad. What a great opportunity for them! I have been cheerleading their efforts on the whole journey thus far. We were finally able to get partnered with native speakers!

We set up a google doc of American student profiles and the Spanish students logged in and chose a partner with whom they wanted to chat. As soon as the connections started rolling in, the American students started emailing and setting up a schedule of when to converse. A full schedule of conversations is set for them so they know what to expect.

Monday was an awesome day! A student came running into class late, apologizing for forgetting that she had a dentist appointment and then announced "I need to get on Skype! I'm late for a conversation with my partner!!" We rushed to get her on and then sent her in the hallway to have a quieter environment to chat. Fortunately the other students had been working out the kinks to downloading Skype and how to screencast the conversation. Some fortunate work-arounds were discovered. She continued through the end of the class period and into the next class period. While I anticipated these conversations to only be about 5-10 minutes, especially the first few, this particular conversation lasted 45 minutes! I ran to get the administration and lead teacher to have them observe what was happening; it was so cool!

It was incredible to watch the negotiation of meaning, clarifying questions, helping each other out to get meaning out of the conversation, in addition to watching confidence grow throughout the conversation, a sort of culminating activity to verify what I had been telling them all along - YES YOU CAN!

In the end, she hung up from the skype call, collapsed in her chair, sighed a big sigh, and looked at me. I kept starring at her and said, "YOU DID IT! That was amazing!!" She just said, "That was the longest conversation I've ever talked to anyone, English or Spanish!" Yeah, this will be a memorable moment in my teaching career - helping a student see that what she thought she couldn't do really was possible!

No comments:

Post a Comment