Conference time!

It’s been a while since my last post. As tends to happen, life got really busy and time got away from me. Then, a family member passed away in Mexico, and I became a solo parent for 10 days while my husband was out of the country. He’s on an airplane flying home right now, and it seemed like a perfect time to start my next post. I finally feel like I can breathe again.

Of course, that feeling is shortlived. Tomorrow is our first of 2 days of parent-student-teacher conferences, and they are grueling back-to-back 12+ hour days. My husband will get home close to midnight and I have to be at work by 7:25 and then be at my best with parents all evening. Wish me luck!

I’ve always wanted conferences to be mostly student led, but have usually fallen short of making that happen. I end up talking way too much, which is both exhausting (talking for hours straight in your second language with people you don’t know is work) and just not ideal. So I had been ruminating on ideas to make a change this year. Especially considering the massive shift in my class, it seemed appropriate to shift the mental load of conferences to students as well.

So today (yes, the day before conferences), when a colleague who is notorious for having extremely long conferences, mentioned that his goal was to not talk, I laughed. And then I told him that I was thinking over ways to do the same. A few hours later, I started a Google doc collaboration with him and another colleague, and this abstract idea began to take shape. This is what we came up with in the span of about 15 minutes while supervising study hall:

We were able to borrow ideas from each other, and refine our own ideas through our chat comments (the magic of Google Docs, am I right?). Since all but one of my students are heritage speakers (I have 1 student who came through a dual immersion program), I just need to clean up and translate my document tomorrow and I’ll be ready to go.

I titled this post Conference Time because we begin parent-teacher conferences tomorrow, but also because it’s professional conference season. Next week (Oct. 25-26) brings the MCTLC conference here in Minneapolis, and I’m so excited to attend the sessions in the Heritage Language strand! I will finally get to meet some of my fabulous online teacher friends, and I cannot wait! At the same time, I’m already battling my anxiety, because I’m presenting a session on Saturday – eek! It’s my first time presenting by myself, and I’m TERRIFIED. I haven’t even started planning yet, except in my head. I’m presenting on making the switch to being a Spanish language arts teacher,  so I’ll look back through this blog and notes from a less formal presentation this summer. I know I have a lot to share. I just really hate speaking in public. I end up shaking for an hour after it’s over. So if you see me, smile or wave or give me chocolate!

Finally, I want to talk about reading and writing conferences during class. And by talk about, I really mean say that they aren’t going great. This is where some actual training in teaching language arts would be helpful. So I continue reading and attending English department meetings and hope to be able to pop into some classes to observe teachers conferring soon. This is definitely an area of growth for me, and I plan to dedicate a future post to this topic, hopefully with an update that things are improving.

If you’ve made it this far, you deserve a prize. Unfortunately, I’m fresh out of prizes. But I thank you for sticking with me! I hope you found something useful from my stressed out, sleep deprived ramblings. I just got word that my husband’s flight has been delayed, and honestly I’m not surprised – that’s just the way things have been going lately.

Today my car was vandalized, but in a good way. I left work with a smile, and I know tomorrow’s conferences, while exhausting, will go well thanks to the planning and collaborating I did today.

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