Episode 6: Q & A With La Maestra LocaMar 25, 2022
Join La Maestra Loca as she answers questions from her social media community. Are you struggling with knowing what phrases should be matched with a gesture? Don't know what to do when a student won't stop moving? She answers these questions and more. You'll also learn more about TPR, self-care, and Brain Breaks. Don't forget to check out the links below.
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Welcome to Teaching Levita loca, a podcast for World Language Teachers seeking inspiration, unapologetic authenticity and guidance in centering joy in facilitating language acquisition for the people that are most our students. I'm your host, Annabelle. Most people call me La Vida Loca. And I'm an educator just like you, and inspiring teachers is what I do.
Hello, and welcome to episode six of teaching La Vida loca, this episode is going to be all q&a From my Instagram followers. I'd love to open q&a to everybody. So be on the lookout for invitations to send in your questions via email, on Facebook, and all the other places that you follow me. But I solicited questions on my Instagram stories on March 2, and so many came in, I'm feeling overwhelmed, on how to how to manage answering all of them, and I probably will only get through a fraction. I now know what Liam Printer is talking about, because I love his podcast, the motivated classroom so much. And every time he does a q&a episode, I totally get what he means about like having time to answer them all. I'll link to his podcast in the show notes in case you're not listening, but I'm sure you are. So welcome. I'm so glad you're here.
Question 1: TPR
The first question is going to be from Christie. Christie, thanks for this question. It's so good. Which phrases do you match with hand motions. So Christie follows me has been noticing that when I am teaching my students, I am speaking with lots of gestures and lots of movements. I assign a TPR or a TPR movement. TPR stands for Total physical response, or a gesture, which is different, the two are different. John Carroll talks a lot about that to any words that are high frequency. So TPR is specifically any gesture, or movement that matches the word for example, gives is TPR. Because you're actually giving something, walk, run, go pick up, leave, drop, grab anything like that, those are all TPR because the the gesture is going to match it directly. Gestures are a little bit different gestures are like four has or wants, or likes. I have a gesture for each of those. I assign gestures to high frequency words, because it's important to link some sort of kinesthetic movement for locking it in their brains. It's actually fascinating. Even some of my most advanced kids when they're in middle of like writing for a writing assessment. They'll ask me silly questions like my thought, how do you say como se you say, once again, I'm like, seriously? You've had me for three years. And you're asking once, all I have to do is say, think of your gesture. Or if I even do the gesture. Within seconds, the kids like oh gracias quiere right? And they write it down. So there's an incredibly powerful thing, or scientific brain thing that happens with linking a gesture or a movement or TPR to a word. Now I know that I said thing a lot. And I'm not an expert in theory. As you all know, I just know what works. And I listened to the people who are experts in theory, and I roll with it. So I don't know. Lots of the theory behind it. But in the show notes, I will link to some resources that John coward shared with me when he was our guest of the month in September for La Familia loca, he came and did an entire really fascinating, powerful presentation on the power of TPR. Because when he was teaching in a world language classroom, that's all he did for the first six weeks of school, even in his upper levels. Fascinating, really, really cool stuff. So guys, here's Christie, that was a great first question. I really, really enjoy using gestures and TPR in my classroom, and I think that you will too if you haven't ever before now getting started with that if you're like okay, now where do I start? I'm going to link you to a blog that I wrote a few years ago with my favorite gestures for high frequency words that I use in my own classroom. These were gestures that I either created or I came up with students. We collaborated and came up with a gesture or their gestures that I saw other people using for the words and I liked them. There are other teachers like Paul Kirsch, Ling Mary Overton, some names that I've mentioned before on here. Oh, use ASL. I know that At the school district that I just worked with in Pensacola is also using ASL. But I think the only thing that's really important with that is if you're going to use American Sign Language, to link to words, it's really important to not tell students that they're learning a third language at the same time, because that was a mistake I used to make. In fact, I used to say, Oh, it's so cool that Mary's students are also simultaneously learning American Sign Language. They're learning some of the vocabulary, some of the gestures that are used for it. But American Sign Language has its own structure and all like that is very complex and intricate. And it's very cool that they are learning signing, but they're not necessarily acquiring the language at the same time. So I'll link to a few resources in the show notes for using gestures and implementing them in your classroom as well.
Question 2: Recording Location
Question two comes from no other than El Esposo loco, my husband is obnoxious, and he asked a question on Instagram and it'll give you a little insight into the podcast, so I'll answer it. His question was, where are you recording right now in our bedroom or in Eilis closet? Because he found it very funny. The first time he saw me recording, he came home and I was trapped in Eilis closet with pillows around me because I heard that closets are a great place to record. I have since found that I am far more comfortable on my bed and the I guess the cushions of the pillows and the blankets provide enough of a sound barrier that it works out. Okay. It maybe sounds better from her closet. Maybe I should have y'all be the judge. Right now I'm recording on our bed. And next time, I'll record in the closet, and y'all can let me know which one sounds better. Please, God, let it be the bed. It's so much more comfortable. It's kind of cramped in her closet, but worth it if it sounds better, I guess. Good question. I suppose so grace, he asked me more. You're so obnoxious, and I love it.
Question 3: Support Ladders
Question Three comes from a newer familia loci member she joined and this past September 2021. And she teaches French in Canada, two elementary school students. And Kayla asks, what do you do? When there's just one or two toxic, really challenging personalities that are completely disruptive to the 23 other students in the classroom and their learning, or your ability to teach? And my first thing that I want to say, right here right now is we all have this, and some of us have it in multiple classes. In fact, today, one student, just one was missing from class. And I have, honestly, I can say I had the first really positive, joyful class with that entire class in months. And what's interesting is when this person comes, two or three other students turn into people that I know that they're not, and they're, they display behaviors that I know they don't want to display. But it's just kind of the energy that feeds, they feed off of each other. And these are students who sometimes I'm thinking and another class, there's one young lady that if she's having a great day and other spaces, she comes to my space and classes, awesome. And it just rocks and the culture feels good and everything feels great. And if she's having a hard day, or she had a hard night the night before. It's just kind of a train wreck class. And so the first thing I have to remember is to breathe. I think that's the first thing. I'm doing this organically. I did not pre plan out my answers. I'm just talking to you because I like to things to be more authentic. I try to breathe and remember like, I am in control of my own emotions, and I can only control my reaction to things and so I try and stay as level and calm and my voice as possible in my redirections in my reminders of expectations, I go by my support ladder to to a tee rather than like escalating my own emotions and therefore escalating. There's more I just follow my support ladder. We don't have consequence ladders, we have ladders of support. And something that I recently did I was I had so Joe hard class. I guess it was two weeks ago, I can't remember. I literally came home. And I went on with La Familia loca because I had a live meeting with him that night. And I just cried for the first 10 minutes about how bad it was and how hard it was and described in detail the situation. After that, I ended up going in the next day and flat out asking for support and asking for support. And I asked for so much from so many different people, that I ensured that the next class, I would have somebody there with me to just observe what was going on and give me guidance. I asked for coaching. You know, because I honestly wanted coaching and how, what is the best way to handle what is happening, I want somebody else to come and see this. And what was really interesting is, even though somebody else was there, the behaviors were still happening, not as extreme, but they were still happening. So I had reinforcement there, I was given a little bit of coaching, but I was also just given support. And already, the behaviors have improved. I checked in with students individually, I'm doing all the things to try and make sure I'm still building a relationship. Because ultimately, I really I know people get annoyed when we say like, just work on building a relationship with those people, I still believe that that is crucial as still, the people that I want to build a relationship with most and that I work hardest on are the kids that like, it really gives me a headache and almost gives me anxiety to like work on it because it feels so hard. That's what I have to do. But that is not the solution to our problems. This is much bigger than that. And it's also really important to just acknowledge that you are not the only person struggling with this. And this is very common. And every year I have one or two dynamic personalities in a few classes that truly determine how class is going to go. But I also have to push through because the you mentioned Kayla 23 others deserve that. In one class right now, there were it was so hard the other day. And I only had really seven kids on point like doing what they were supposed to following expectations and like doing the minimum. But then being so empathetic, a few of them came up to me after class and said, Thank you so much for like trying so hard to stay positive, even when people are being really negative. The fact that people acknowledge that I'm like, thank you. But I'm also just writing them really quick Bitmoji cards. I've talked about doing that before, I'll find an Instagram reel where I talk about it. But those little notes for kids just letting them know that I see them and I see that they're working hard, go a long, long way with kiddos. So just letting them know thank you for doing your best thank you for your integrity and your respect and your empathy. Those go a long way I use those words a lot because those are our school values. So I try to include a school value anytime I write a kid note about their performance in class or, or just their overall demeanor towards me or you know, effort in general. So you're not alone, Kayla. And I would continue to try and build relationship and rapport with them. Find out who their people are, make sure you're calling home for positive things, the second positive thing happens. And then really just ask for that support be a squeaky wheel until somebody can come and support you. What's really nice is if you're a person that doesn't ask for a lot of support or a lot of classroom management support, then you'll probably if your squeaky wheel enough. No, I'm inventing that word. But if you're squeaky enough of a wheel, you'll get it even in a year as hard as this but sending you love and to anybody else who is in the same boat. All of us sending you all love for this crazy Vita loca that we are living teaching in 2022. But hey, guess what? It is almost April 1. Some of you might even be listening. So far in the future. It's already after April 1 And God so excited exciting. On that note, how about a brain break? I think it's time Are you ready? Are you ready?
Brain Break: Statues
Okay, so today's brain break that I want to talk to you about is called statues and This is a brain break that I learned from my students. I learned it from them pre pandemic, I guess it was December before the world shut down. And they were sixth graders at the time. They are my current eighth graders. And it is still a favorite, which is always kind of surprising to me. I always think my, my eighth graders are going to get tired of it and be apathetic, but they still really enjoy it. Okay, I know I said it was called statues, but the original name that they used for it was night at the museum. So if you have students who already play Night at the Museum, then just say, oh, what we're using it as a brain break in Spanish class or in French class or German class, whatever language you teach. The way this works is one, one student not clued in, but student gets sent out of the class. And they are going to be the night guard at the museum. Think of the Movie Night at the Museum, right? If you're not familiar, what? go and google it, it's so good. Everybody else in the classroom, I give them 10 seconds to pose as a statue somewhere in the room. I recently have brought back the idea that they must pose as a statue because we are now in the auditorium and I let them spread out all over the auditorium. And some of them like lay down in between the seats and I'm like, No, you must be a statue. He was for dead. You are a statue like in a museum. So they pose as a statue. And then the night new night guard comes in. I always use the ticket opportunity for more input and tell them in Spanish that Oh, no, a unicorn has been let loose in the museum and they are peeing all over the statues. Oh, no. What do we do? Oh, what a disaster, etc, etc. And then I say you must catch the statues moving because the unicorns have peed on them. So it's made the magic, right? So then the students have to move. But they have to move every five seconds is my rule. As long as the night guard isn't looking directly at them, the night guard is trying to catch people moving. Right? So they would strike a new pose. And this one is one that's definitely better seen. So I'm going to go ahead and post to a recent blog post that I made about statues. And inside you can hear more detailed explanation of it as well as a video of my students playing it. The high school teachers that have tagged me in their high school students like this one, it is pretty fabulous. I am a little obsessed. I can't wait to hear how your students like it. Have fun with it statues. Unicorn pee makes everything better all the way, like all the time, by the way. So don't be afraid to like embellish a little bit with your storytelling on that to have fun. So the next question is actually from Miss Julie, Miss Julie is a mommy of one of my dear friends here in New Orleans. And she's incredible. She'll send snail mail still. And I get several cards a year from her that are full of love and joy and positivity, but also reminders for scheduling very intentional self care for myself. And she she's just a wonderful person to be around. And and her question was literally, where does one fitted in self care? She said scheduling and self care is super important or usually doesn't happen. And I she asked us super intentionally because she is not a teacher. But she loves teachers and she supports teachers. And that first word that she used in the question was the most important scheduling. I really think that the thing that has made me better about self care is being very intentional around scheduling a time for it like actually physically writing it into my planner, I talked to a colleague about this at work even. It doesn't have to be at the same time every day. If you're a person like me that that kind of boxing you in might make you anxious, but physically writing it into your calendar every week and going through and scheduling Okay, from this time to this time on this day, I'm going to take a walk or I'm going to go to the park or I'm going to have a glass of wine with my friends and not talk about work or I'm going to whatever your self care looks like. And then I think the other really important piece and this is something I talk about frequently is remembering that self care looks different for everybody. If you aren't into yoga, don't feel bad about not meditating and doing yoga. If you don't like bubble baths, I freaking hate bubble baths. Don't take a bubble bath. That isn't your form of self care and that's okay. But really being intentional around making time for self care. Because one of my dear dear friends and I won't say her name But I hope that she hears this. I frequently hear that she's up at nine or 10 o'clock still planning for the next day. That is wildly concerning to me when we are already. So past the point of burnout, like that is only going to make it inevitable that you won't return next year. I'm wildly concerned when I hear that because teachers are already way past the point of exhaustion, and we're already doing way too much. And the teacher, the rate of teachers leaving the profession is already higher than ever. If we're not being really really intentional with scheduling things that are just for us to take care of us and our own mental and emotional well being. It's doing more than just affect our our sleep and our time with our family. It's literally taking time off of our life. Like the need to be intentional about scheduling yourself care is urgent. So please, please find ways to do that. And then give yourself a break if you if you know that your self care is like just legit Disney movies. Or the lady who watched our house last time when babies had our cat. It was watching 10 hours of like, she just left meditation, music on with a cat grooming itself. Like the whatever self care looks like for you. Make time for that. Please. Pretty please. It's our turn. And I love you. Two more questions.
Question 4: Fidgety Students
The first is from Andrea, another familia loci member in Andrea teaches high school. I think levels. I don't remember Andrea, I'm sorry. Level two for sure. I know. And she has some honors classes. But Andrea said what do you do with the super squirrly students they can't even pay attention to acquire. They're just really really squirrely, I have a few recommendations. First is brain breaks. Brain Breaks are why some of the students who are the most squarely in other classes love my class. And they they can't pinpoint it. They don't realize it's because we move so much movement movement movement, but it's absolutely the movement. If you have students who just are constantly moving, I would tell them that every time you say a high frequency word, you want them saying the gesture. You could also give them a job of they have a sign and every time that it's appropriate to use your rejoinder of the week, they are putting up the sign they are your sign person. You could also get clickers I learned this from Grant B. You could have them get the baseball clickers where you know, when people enter our baseball game, there's somebody clicking a little machine, they could have clickers and they are intentionally listening for a specific word, one high frequency word, and they're clicking it every time they hear you say that word. That way. It's like almost a fidget toy. You could also do what Lauren does Lauren, oh gosh, her name, I need to say her last name correctly, so I'm not going to butcher it. Her last name is spelled Tauchman. She teaches in Denver Public Schools at East High School and she gives her students like paperclip fidgets and all these different fidgets and they just drop them in the basket when they leave. Nothing fancy, something easy that kids can fidget with. You could also get like something like a bike tire or those bungee cords and you can attach them to the bottom of their chairs so that they have something to bounce their feet on something that's not going to make enough noise to bother somebody that's sitting sitting next to them, but something that they can fidget with. And then I would also just, again, go back to like, how frequently are you doing brain breaks, because those kids will benefit and every child will benefit from those brain breaks. Statues is actually the statue brain break that I did at the beginning of this is one of the 10 brain breaks in my 10 Day brain break challenge. If you haven't done my 10 day break break challenge yet what? It's so good, this is the perfect time of the year to bring it back. I will go ahead and put it in the show notes and you can get the PDF. It's basically 10 days of brain breaks with videos of me and I guide you through using the brain break in your class with your students. You can literally sit back and do it with them. You can have me teach your class or you can just pre watch the videos in advance and then teach it to them yourself. If you don't want La Maestar Loca teaching your class, totally good. But definitely look into the 10 day brain break challenge. And we all have those squirrly students too. Thank you for your question, Andrea.
Question 5: Self-Care
The last question I'm going to answer even though there weren't but I just don't have time I'm trying to keep it to 30 minutes is from Megan and Megan is a listener in the Philippines. Megan teaches English in the Philippines. And I'm super grateful for this question, because it's something that I get asked frequently, but I not really ever talked about publicly in the way that I have in the last couple of weeks. So I'll share now. Megan says, you're the mom of a little step mom, a public school teacher, a PD extraordinare? Which Thank you. How do you manage it all? Also, that question is with full admiration and respect. You are amazing. I didn't take offense to that at all. Thank you so much. How do I do it all? The answer is I don't. I don't do it all. I think it's really important to acknowledge that those of us in the online space are struggling with the same things that you are. And there are things that we are not doing, right. I have a person that helps me with all things in La Familia Loca PLC, her name is Viviana, I also have three people, Morgan, Nicole and CIO, who helped me with our monthly one time meeting, I have a person who helps me look over resources that I share to look for errors. I have another person who's now going to help me transcribe these podcasts. So I don't have to do it. And I can actually get podcasts out to you more frequently than what I'm doing now. So I don't do all of the things. I have lots of people who love and support me and help me with that. The biggest of which is my husband. We used to do this thing where I would do the laundry, and he would do the dishes. He has done so much laundry in the last year. And he just picks up so much slack. Where I he knows that I'm like working my ass off every night. And I it brings me so much joy to do. So he picks up the slack where I am not doing the best job of being like a housewife. But he does it because he knows that it's helping us financially. And he also knows that I love it. And that's the final piece. Megan, great question. I recently learned from my business coach, that it's okay to say this out loud. It's been something I've been wondering for years now. But not willing to say it because I think people look at me and they think oh my god, she's a workaholic. And they compare themselves to me. And I hate that. So I've never wanted to say this out loud. But my business coach gave me permission because I found out from her. One of her forms of self care is teaching people and teaching teachers. And I felt for years that could it be that this is my self care scheduling time to record a freaking podcast, scheduling time to write a blog. Could it be that that is a form of self care for me. And it is. And I never knew that it was okay to say that. But it is I am passionate about it. I love it. I try really hard to only do it when my kids are in bed. But man alive, it is like the best thing. It's the best thing. And luckily, I have a supportive husband who also really likes to work on his motorcycle once or twice a week. So he goes out and works on his motorcycle. And here I am getting to record a podcast and teach and work with all of you. So it is a form of self care for me. But on top of that, I also have behind the scenes help. So I don't want you to think that I am juggling all of these balls that are on fire and simultaneously swallowing a sword or something magic like that. I just am really passionate about working with teachers. It fills my cup. And I love being in my classroom and sharing ideas that can bring you joy with your students in your classroom. So that's it for me. Thank you Megan for that fantastic last question and sending you all of my love teacher where our ever you are, if you are in your commute into work, you're going to have an awesome day. If you're on your commute home. Way to go.
We made it through another one. And we are that much closer to our fabulous summer break that will be so restorative and restful. And I'm so excited for us. Thank you again for listening and supporting. If you're loving this podcast, please share it with a friend or better yet, go ahead and leave me a review because that gets it noticed on Google and make sure that Google is recommending it to others. People are in a guest not just Google Apple podcasts or Spotify. leave a review if you're really loving it and if you are enjoying it please do share with other teachers that it could benefit. Until next time, I will be teaching La Vida Loca and I am sure you will be too. Take care.
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