Beginning Teacher Panic: My First Step into TPRS®/CI

About a month ago I had the opportunity to observe another Spanish teacher in my district. I was interested in learning from her after she told me she uses TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading & Storytelling). To be honest, at the time I thought it was just another way to use TPR (Total Physical Response). Since being inspired by how creative, fun, and engaged her students were, I feel like I’ve started a new path in my career in which there is no turning back.

That observation led me into a research frenzy over Spring Break. I began trying to learn everything I could, starting with this helpful post from Crystal Barragán, which then led me to Martina Bex, Terry Waltz, Ben Slavic, and many other sources of inspiration.

What I’ve implemented in the classroom thus far has given me a sense of pride, joy, and accomplishment I haven’t experienced in teaching before. Yet there is also a panicked voice that creeps into this first year teacher’s head:

You know nothing. I think, I have been teaching Spanish entirely wrong. There is too much to learn and not enough time. I am failing my students. If only I had known this sooner I could have…

So maybe it would have been nice if my university offered WL-specific methods courses instead of putting me with the Social Studies and English teachers. Maybe I could have researched a little bit harder before developing curriculum last summer. Maybe I could have worked more Saturdays.

But here are the facts: My students are learning. They are growing. They came in knowing nothing and now they’re writing paragraphs and having fluid conversations with me in the hallways and practicing with customers at their fast food jobs. I am learning. I am growing. I came in knowing the Spanish language and very little about education and now I’m the reason for student growth and acquisition.

One day I’ll be the teacher that has more to share and more advice to offer. For now I’m the teacher that gets to soak in tons of new knowledge while trying to transfer as much of it as possible to my students. I will always have more to learn but it doesn’t mean I am not good enough now.

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