The theme of this semester has been “I’m getting married!” And in the stress of working full time, pursuing my master’s degree, and this poisonous post-truth political atmosphere, I have been walking through the halls smiling every day, because I am deeply happy.
My principal encourages us to share of ourselves with our students – show who we are as people as we get to know them as individuals as well. And so, it has been a joy to share my personal happiness with my students this semester.
- Telling my Spanish 2 students. Back in January on the second or third day of class, I decided to introduce myself to my level 2 students with a few photos and some CI. I had taught maybe half of the students in Spanish 1 the previous semester or previous year, but the rest were brand new to me. I began with a picture of my very caucasion family and explained slowly my age, where I was from, that I learned Spanish in school and by traveling, that my family speaks English but my father studied Spanish and now my mom does too (her duolingo streak is in the 100s), that I went to Berry College and studied in Spain and Costa Rica, that I still like to travel, and a bit about my teaching experience. I flipped through a few pictures from the slides I use in my family unit, until I got to the photo of Daniel and me I had finally decided to include after 18 months of dating (well, they all want to talk about their novios too, right?). I held up my ring and said Es mi novio…pero ahora es mi futuro esposo. The shrieks of joy from the girls I had taught the previous spring in Spanish 1, who I never got a chance to tell because Daniel proposed to me the day after the last day of school… glorious.
- The countdown on the board.
One of the first wedding details Daniel and I nailed down was our hashtag, because PRIORITIES. And so boda (wedding in Spanish), Daniel, and Andrea quickly morphed into #boDANdrea, and about mid January I threw it up on my whiteboard, added a bookmark in Chrome for Days Until, and began keeping a daily countdown. I have students, both male and female, who check the countdown as soon as they walk in my class, remind me of it – Only 43 more days, Ms. Brown! Are you excited?, and let me know if I have forgotten to change it – Ms. Brown, I think it’s 37 now, it was 39 two days ago. And that time when a student asked me if I had graded their tests, and another replied, Of course she hasn’t, she’s planning a wedding! Priceless. I love this countdown so much, I think I’m going to have to replace it with a #graduaciónclasede2017 countdown when #boDANdrea gets to zero.
- Checking the forecast together. I tweeted earlier this week that since my wedding had finally entered the ten-day forecast window, I was ready to teach weather phrases. And so Thursday and Friday I grabbed a screen shot of the forecast and projected it on the board with two questions in Spanish as a warm up – What’s the weather today? What’s the forecast for my wedding? You better believe we’re gonna do it every day next week, and their going to have the link on Schoology to check when I’m out taking midterms and getting my nails done Thursday and Friday.
- The conversations it brings up. Señorita Brown, what’s your new name going to be? Still Ms. Brown, but I guess I’ll have to graduate to Señora. Do you and your fiance speak in Spanish? Yes, sometimes. We are bilingual so we have twice as many words to express ourselves. Haha, this activity card you gave me is green, it’s a green card! You know my fiance is applying for a green card? We’re kind of nervous about it with all the anti-immigration and anti-Mexican political rhetoric. It’s a big deal to us.
- The way my personal life influences my professional life. Just as stress at home affects performance at work, a happy personal life shines through in my work. When I eat properly, get enough sleep, exercise, and enjoy fulfilling relationships with friends and family, I am able to give my best to my students and teach joyfully, respond to problems gracefully, and react to challenges thoughtfully.
I met this man at a salsa event on a warm summer’s night in 2014, because in 2006 I went to a salsa event hosted by the Berry College Spanish Department and Profe Tate showed me some moves, because in 2008 I studied abroad in Sevilla and met a lifelong friend who invited me to go salsa dancing with her on that fateful June night many years later, because I went to Costa Rica in 2009 and my Tica sister tutored me on salsa, bachata and cumbia in her bedroom on hot afternoons after school, because I had spent my whole life obsessed with learning Spanish so that when a cute guy asked me to dance on a warm June night in 2014, I said Do you speak Spanish? and from there, both of our lives were forever changed.