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Sneak peek: How to ensure your party in heritage Spanish class is a success!

More than being fun and taking a break, parties can be a very educational and rewarding experience for you and your heritage students. Creating a space for parties in heritage class is an important cultural component that shouldn’t be overlooked. If done correctly, parties provide a heritage class the opportunity to bond on a deeper level with one another, creating a home-like atmosphere.

We have a party each trimester in my Heritage Spanish class. Parties are great for creating camaraderie in the class, and let’s be honest, taking a break one day a trimester to hang out with one another is good for the mental health of everyone involved! You can use parties as a time to acknowledge their achievements, celebrate cultural holidays, or integrate a themed party to tie in with a unit, like a food project! 

fiesta in heritage Spanish class

I regularly throw class parties with my Spanish classes. We do a Three Kings Day Party every year. While that party is nice, in my first year teaching heritage, I accidentally stumbled upon the fact that heritage students look for something entirely different from a party.

During that first year, my students figured out my birthday and begged to throw me a party. This was new to me, and I had no clue what to expect! But in approving a class party day, so long as they planned everything and handled all the details (end of the year exhaustion is real!), I gained some priceless intel on my heritage classes: these students really understand how to plan a menu, organize, delegate and put together a top-notch party from start to finish.

Without meaning to, they showed me there is a big difference between throwing a class party in my regular Spanish classes versus my heritage classes. I was absolutely stunned at how much time and effort they put into preparation and bringing food, and how invested my students were when it came time for dancing at the party.

Here are a few quick tips to ensure a killer party with your heritage class. 

1. Have students sign-up to bring something

It may be helpful to have a student organize a sign-up for who all is going to volunteer to bring food. This ensures there are no-repeat dishes and puts a little more accountability into the mix. I usually supply all the paper products for the party because that is an essential item that can’t be forgotten. Another way to increase participation is to offer extra credit to anyone who brings food or drink items to share for the party; but, typically students jump at the opportunity to bring in some of their favorite foods. 

food in Spanish class party

2. Assign a Student DJ

When we have class parties, I have zero access to my computer because students are swarming it, picking songs to play on Youtube. This is a fun way to see what music they truly like. If you want to make it more organized, you can assign a student DJ and students can put in requests to the DJ.

dancing in heritage Spanish class

3. Request trash cans from the custodians ahead of time

After too many parties of trash cans and recycling containers packed to the gills, I wisened up and started requesting extra trash bins from the custodians ahead of time. This helps the party area stay clean and makes it easier for janitors in the evening!

trash cans for class party

4. Don’t Teach Anything

A party is supposed to be a special time to relax, have fun, and converse with each other.

Allow students to have the period to eat, hang out, and dance if they choose! The best way to kill a party vibe is to try and make it like every other day in class. Parties are about the students and the class as a whole, so refrain from trying to cram in a teaching point, as that would turn the focus back on you as the teacher. Party days need to be sacred. Save it for tomorrow.

dancing feet in Spanish class

5. Let your Students Take the Lead

My final tip: the best parties are the parties in which student buy-in is high and students are fully present. The best parties we have in class happen when I take a step back and trust my students. Students take the lead and I basically fill the role of party support. If this party is for them to enjoy, allowing them to guide the way will give students an opportunity to let their true colors shine through. When you begin the initial stages of party planning, toss out the idea of organizing a party and instead let them run with it. If they want to dance during the party, allow them to…however, respect their wishes in the event that dancing is not on their list.

Don’t make it about you as the teacher or what you envisioned the party to be, let it be about them as students and leaders. I can’t say that enough. Throwing a party with your heritage class means stepping back, empowering your students, and giving them a shot to take the reigns for the day.

partner dancing in Spanish class

Throwing a party in Heritage Spanish class does not have to be all that hard. If everyone is relaxing, listening to music, eating or talking with a friend, you have likely just thrown a great party! These are the memories your students will fondly look back on later!

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