Do you love fall? Me too! I love the clean smell of the air and the sound of the leaves crunching under my feet. I love camping and bonfires, trick-or-treating with my son and taking long hikes. Everything about it seems re-energizing and relaxing and cozy at the same time.
But…as a teacher, fall is not my favorite. The days get shorter, meaning I’m going to work and coming home in the dark. I’m starting to learn who those kids are who will make my day harder. The honeymoon period is over, and we are really all just looking at each other every day, knowing that we’ve got a long road ahead of us, so we need to make this work. I love teaching and I love fall, but I don’t love being a teacher in the fall. So, what do I do to keep it fresh and fun while maintaining my expectations and rigor? (Note the key word here: rigor). My bosses would be proud.
Well, if you’re familiar with my teaching ideas, you’ll know that I LOVE to have fun in class. Yes, we have standards and deadlines and all the paperwork, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still do some fun things! So, here’s what I do with my classes.
1. Take a walk.
I can hear you now. But I can’t just take a walk. I have to teach. My principal would never let me. I have too much to do. Okay, I get it. I’m not talking about just going for a nice, leisurely walk. If you are in an area with sidewalks and the neighborhood is okay for walking, take a class for a 10 minute walk around the block, then have them come back in and write about it for 5-10 minutes. You can have them share their writings or keep them private, it doesn’t really matter. What is important is the movement and the fresh air. Some possible topics:
* How does sunlight affect your mood?
* Do you think high schoolers should get free time outdoors like younger kids do?
* What did you see, hear, smell on your walk?
* What are the negative effects of sitting still too long?
* What is your favorite outdoor activity?
If you are permitted to celebrate holidays in your school, Halloween is such a fun one to do in foreign language. You can listen to fun songs and teach vocabulary that students might not ordinarily learn in a textbook.
If you want more fun ideas for fall and links to great songs for fall and Halloween, check out my FALL TEACHING PINTEREST BOARD.
I love to change up my room. I have to admit that it is a little less for the kids than it is for me. I mean, I spend 8-10 hours per day there. I want it cute! Need some decorations?
Don’t miss the word wall that goes with it! It’s a great way to painlessly introduce vocabulary that your students won’t learn from textbooks!
4. Have a party. 🙂
One of my favorite parts of being a foreign language teacher is that we can sometimes get away with things that others can’t, because we have to teach that cultural aspect, right? Well, the Spanish teachers have it easier, because El Dìa de los Muertos is more festive than la Toussaint, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate somehow, does it? November 1st has always been celebrated in my class by making crêpes. I’ve been lucky enough to be in schools with a cooking room, so in exchange for some student-delivered crêpes, those sweet teachers swapped rooms with me for the day.
Don’t have a cooking room? Have students research some French foods they can make at home (if your school allows) and have a potluck.
5. Get them speaking!
You all know I think students should be able to speak French, not just write it. So, here are some fun activities for Halloween, and there’s even a Halloween-themed Find Someone Who…!
Want something just for fall?
If assemblies and spirit rallies are getting your schedule all mixed up, this FREE writing activity for beginners is a great way to reinforce some learning in a no-stress way. One class is ahead of the others? No worries! This quick writing activity can be used to reinforce and review while the other classes catch up.
Have a great fall!