If you teach in a typical US public school like I do, you’re likely to have administrators popping into your classes at different times of the day. In my case, it seems like a revolving door.
You’re also likely to have kids coming and going on passes (or without). All this coming and going can at best interrupt the FLOW of class and at worst completely derail a class.
With that in mind, a few years ago I started thinking about how to use these typical interruptions as FORTUITOUS ACCIDENTS – in other words, how could I use what is GOING TO HAPPEN ANYWAY as an OPPORTUNITY to speak more Spanish with my students.
I just sent this to my admin, inviting them to help me establish, nurture and maintain one such critical routine in my class – how we respond when someone enters the classroom when class is in session. Feel free to copy and paste it to your own admins if you want.
Hi Admin Team,
I’m writing to ask for your help. Our parent organization, ACTFL, recommends we use the target language (TL), in my case Spanish, 90% or more of class time. It’s always a challenge to create a space in which students recognize the TL as the Lingua Franca of the learning community, especially for beginners who can’t say much yet.
To help kids realize how important it is, I use what would normally be considered interruptions as fortuitous accidents – i.e. another opportunity to use Spanish.
One example of interruption as fortuitous language moment is when someone opens the door while class is in session. It often sparks side conversation in English that slows down instruction.
To mitigate that, I have created a routine with students to keep us in the TL, focused on Spanish. It goes like this:
- A person knocks.
- The Bouncer, a student whose job it is to open the door, comes to the door.
- All attention is on her.
- She shouts, “¿Quién?” (that means “who?”)
- Student on the other side shouts their name (ideally they say, “Soy” first (I am))
- The Bouncer opens the door slightly and asks for the secret password. (It’s posted so if they forget they can look at the window next to the door. Click here to learn about the Secret Password routine to see if it could apply to other content areas.)
- Student gives secret password and is allowed entrance.
I’d like to invite you to help me establish, nurture and maintain this ritual by knocking at the door and engaging with the class’s Bouncer whenever you’d like. Clearly if you’d like to be discrete to get a specific kid you need to talk to, or, if you just don’t feel like it, you always have a key. But, it’s much more fun when the adults also engage in class.
Thanks for your consideration.
To learn more about using the Secret Password routine, click here.