If you are thinking of issuing your textbook divorce papers, here are some tips that may be helpful:
Tip #1 - BE CONFIDENT
Have confidence in yourself as a teacher. A textbook is one single resource in a sea of resources. Basing what you teach on a textbook is ignoring the most important resource of all - yourself and your experiences. You KNOW what doesn't work and you are willing to find out what does. That is the confidence you need to ditch the book.
Tip #2 - FIND AN ANCHOR
Too many teachers see the textbook as their anchor, but there are bigger better anchors out there. Has your district officially adopted a specific set of standards? Are you familiar with the ACTFL progress indicators? These are the things that most textbook companies try to align their products to, so cut out the middle man and align your teaching to the actual standards. That way, when people give you crap about not using a textbook or say you are just "teaching whatever you feel like", you can point right at your anchor.
Tip #3 - PICK A STARTING POINT
Especially if you are responsible for teaching several different levels of language, choose one to start transitioning away from the textbook with. Most of us still have long careers ahead of us and no one says you have to do it all at once. Just as when you started teaching, there is more work involved with familiarizing yourself with a new way of doing things. If you focus on transitioning one course per year, you will be less likely to feel overwhelmed and go back to the textbook because it is "easier".
Tip #4 - FIND A PARTNER IN CRIME
For many years, I felt like the lone soldier. Everyone else was still talking about being on "Capítulo 3, Etapa 2" long after I had forgotten what that even meant. Then, we hired a teacher who I recognized as progressive. He and I have been able to truly collaborate and brainstorm wonderful ideas for our students. We are the spokespeople for our way of doing things and the tides have now begun to change as more of the teachers in our department inquire about what we are doing.
If you haven't found "the one" in your building, try teacher forums on the internet. There are a lot of great teachers out there who love to collaborate. It can sometimes be less threatening to work with someone in the virtual world.
Tip #5 - EDUCATE YOUR ADMINISTRATION
Let's face it, most administrators are not exactly the curricular leaders that we need or want them to be. That doesn't mean that they can't learn to be though. Whenever you have a chance to sit down with an administrator - in the lunch room, in an evaluation conference, or passing in the hallway - engage them in conversation about what you are doing. Publicize the great things that are happening in your classroom on the school website or parent newsletter. Chances are they are hearing people complain about you (the people still using the textbook), but they hear complaints constantly. If they hear positive things from you, students, and parents - no one will question you.
Tip #6 - ASK YOUR STUDENTS
Build a relationship with your students and ask them what they think. What do they like about what you are trying to do? What do they not like? Give them anonymous surveys, include an opinion question on the end of an assessment, make it an exit ticket assignment, or have a conversation. You will be surprised how honest students will be with you and what good points they are capable of making. You are also modeling wonderful behaviors for them in showing them that you are constantly seeking to improve and that you can take constructive criticism. They will not be surprised then that you expect the same from them.