The Dilemma of Doing ALL the Things

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the messages our superintendent – who is in his second year with us – has been emphasizing as we move forward with a new district mission. Last year it was take a risk and dare to fail and this year it’s do one less thing.

This year’s message of doing less stuff and working hard to do well on the things we keep is one that really resonates with me as a proficiency-based language teacher. Teach less grammar? Grade less overall? Worry less about mistakes? Sure, I’m on board with all of that and I think it aligns really well with my personal teaching philosophy and the principles of TCI.


The one that’s getting me though is the dare to fail. I don’t know if it’s the November exhaustion creeping in but I just really feel like I’m failing a lot lately. All I can think about is how I should be speaking more TL, circling more when I do stories, giving more opportunities for real-world language use in class, using more authentic resources, making the skills we practice more equitable, scaffolding better. Every day I beat myself up over something that I should have done better because I know better. Every day I ask myself, “Why didn’t you give them more opportunities to do X during this unit? Why didn’t you use this as an opportunity to review this concept? What have you even been doing?”

While I teach in a large district with many language teachers, I am the only French teacher in my building and my district has no curriculum for World Language, formal or otherwise. I have all  the preps, including a level 4/AP split that’s making my head spin. I’m also the only TCI teacher in my district, although now others have started to ask me to lead district in-services to explain how and what I do in my classroom. While this is a great opportunity for my district to make a huge transformation, right now it just also feels like one more thing I said yes to but don’t really have time to do.

I’m feeling burnt out already and it’s only November. I love my students and I’m passionate about teaching French but where does the energy come from?? I don’t feel like I have enough hours in my day to develop units and lesson plans that are meaningful for one level of students without the other levels getting neglected. I don’t know to be a highly effective teacher while also being a highly effective me. And right now I’m not  doing either one of them very well at all. I don’t necessarily want to leave the profession but I find myself fantasizing about taking a break to go back to school, or to travel for a while, just so I can breathe!

I know I’m not alone in this – how do you manage to find the balance?

One thought on “The Dilemma of Doing ALL the Things

  1. I totally get how you feel. While I no longer teach French—I am all Spanish–I am the department just like you! One of the best pieces of advice I was given is to work on the units and tweaking things, in just one level a year. Then concentrate on the next level the next year. Give yourself a chance to think through what worked, what didn’t and then change it. If you are at the AP level maybe think about how to backward plan. If there is unit on Identity then what does that look like for the other levels, or what do they need to get before getting to the AP level? Can you use the same MovieTalk, or picture in all your levels to give yourself a break.

    I start a novel right after Thanksgiving. I use the teacher guides and what I find on blogs. It is a busy time of year and that makes planning easier. Sometimes I stumble upon some great things and then use a Pinterest board to add so I don’t forget for next year.

    Give yourself some grace


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