Being Completely Unprepared–and Totally Ready–for the New School Year

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Readiness and preparedness are usually thought of as synonyms. They both mean that a person has the things necessary to complete a task or perform an action. And they are definitely synonymous in some aspects, but there is a definite difference: I am Unprepared for the year, meaning that I haven’t done much to prepare my order of instruction or lessons, but I am Ready, mentally and emotionally, to be back in a classroom.

I haven’t spent more than 2 hours at a time thinking about school or planning (that’s about how long the boys nap for on a daily basis) and I am unprepared. Usually, by this time in the summer, I have the whole year mapped out…which has usually turned out to be unnecessary because the schedules change and the work I have been doing gets completely negated. This is not a problem, though. No matter what changes get thrown at us this year, I am confident in the CI methods that I began implementing last year and I will use the outline from last year over again, with some changes, of course.

Even though I am unprepared, I definitely feel ready to get back to work. I got the good news that I will be teaching (mostly) in one room, rather than traveling to other teachers’ rooms. I am very excited to have a home base (especially since as a traveling teacher, I always felt like I was invading their space-some teachers were very good at hiding this feeling, others not so much).

My break from school work over the summer also included a break from social media, specifically Twitter, #langchat, and the blog. Instead, this has been time for my family and for myself. I have been busy, though, reading books (Babel No More by Michael Erard—pick it up, it’s pretty great!), working on my Musicuentos Blackbox Podcast contributions, and spending time at home with my kids (they are 2 and 4 and home for the summer from daycare while I am off and my wife is working).

That being said, I am glad to be coming back. I am so ready to rejoin this vibrant and welcoming group of teachers. There is so much I can learn (and hopefully some things that I can contribute) and it fills me with excitement that I can find a place to connect with other teachers—I am an island of Spanish teaching at my school. I teach all the kids and I am the only one who has any experience teaching languages; in other words, I have no one to bounce ideas off of. I am so thrilled to have that in #langchat. I have written about #langchat before and I highly recommend anyone who reads this blog and hasn’t done so already to stop reading, login to Twitter, and search #langchat. You will not be disappointed; you may be indimidated by the knowledge and abilities of the other teachers, but that’s the thing about langchat—they are all willing to help out anyone who asks.

Where to Begin?

I am ready, and now is the time to prepare. Here are a few things to think about when preparing for a new year in a CI language class:

1.  Units and Lessons

This is the biggie: “What am I going to teach the kids?” A great place to start to find the answer to this question is the ACTFL Can-Do Statements, National Foreign Language Standards, and your own state’s Foreign Language standards. We need to think of our goals for our students on a daily-, lesson-, unit-, and year-long basis; in other words, what do we want them to be able to do at the end of a class, a unit, and/or the whole year?

2.  Grading/Assessment

How will I assess these kids?” Will I use Standards-Based Grading? IPAs? Presentations? Grade everything? Grade nothing? How much of each mode (interpretive, interpersonal, presentational) should I include for the grade?

3.  Classroom Management

What kind of classroom will I run?” We need to be thinking of what kind of classroom environment we want–Loud and raucous? Quiet and restrained? Should students raise their hands or just call out answers? We also need to think about how we want students to behave to best achieve the goals of the class and what kinds of procedures and activities will help to promote those goals, too.

4.  Classroom Decoration

What will my classroom look like?” Will I have flags? Posters? Motivational posters or vocabulary posters?

Unprepared and Totally Ready

There is a lot to do to prepare for a school year and I’m not sure of the answers to all of the questions I have written about above (or to the questions that I haven’t even thought of yet), but the one thing I know for sure is that I am ready for it!


  1. Mil gracias por your post today! I have been primarily at home for almost 20 years with my 4 kids. I tutored on occasion and am sad to learn that boring texts are still the primary means of introducing a 2nd language. I will be working part time at a small Christian school in 5 weeks. I used to use standard texts waay before computers were at schools and before the popularity of TPR and TPRS, CI, etc. I have been trying to learn as much as I can via the Net in the past 2 weeks. I need to select a curriculum (SP I-III) next week and am at a loss. I have played with TPR with adult ESL but have never ventured into TPRS. I will be the only Spanish (possibly the only for. lang.) teacher; upper school only has about 45 students total. I would really appreciate any guidance!


    1. Thanks for your comment and I’m glad I can help! Using tprs and CI methods has opened up a lot of doors for me and shown me a much more fun and effective way to teach language. I recommend trying to find a TPRS Instructor class that you can sign up for. I did a lot of online research, but it wasn’t until I took the class that I was able to really see what it was all about. If there aren’t any classes around you, and even if there are, and you’re interested in trying out TPRS, then I really really recommend picking up a copy of Fluency Through TPR Storytelling by Contee Seely. It is basically the user’s manual for how to do tprs. If you’re interested in more CI techniques, then I also recommend looking at the following websites–,,, and pretty much any of the other sites that are linked on my blog page in the blogroll and blogs I follow section. Good luck and I hope you have a great year! If you have any more questions or want to discuss any other ideas you can email me at


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