Last week I had the privilege of attending two conferences. One for district supervisors and support specialists (NADSFL), and one for teachers (ACTFL). You might have heard of ACTFL (haha)--and although it was incredible and inspiring, it was also very overwhelming. Since I attended with all of you in mind, I wanted to share some of my biggest take-aways.
1. I am newly re-committed to my state and regional conferences, SCOLT and SCFLTA. While ACTFL is truly an incredible experience, it is so big that I found myself longing for last year's SCOLT, where more of my local colleagues were present, and where it was easier to connect with other teachers from our region of the country. I'm also really looking forward to SCFLTA 2017 which is happening right in our backyard this year!
2. I was most impressed by the session I attended in which a high school French teacher from Virginia brought his students with him to teach teachers at ACTFL how to engage students and motivate them to keep taking language classes in the upper levels. These students were such incredible advocates for languages! I was blown away and have decided that bringing our students to conferences might be one of the most important things we can do for them and for our profession.
3. I was also a little relieved to see that the issues and concerns we face in our classrooms are not unique. Language teachers from across the country are working to improve student engagement, move students forward in proficiency, and stay in the L2 even with novice students. In fact, the sessions that I most wanted to attend were completely packed with standing room only--which showed me that we are all dealing with some similar struggles.
4. If you attended SCOLT in Charlotte last Spring, you probably heard from the 2016 Teacher of the Year--Ted Zarrow. He shared at ACTFL highlights from his year--wow they kept him busy advocating for languages! His speech was truly inspiring and he received two standing ovations. My favorite quote was this, "Language is a vehicle for seeing beyond what we do not yet understand." He is a firm believer that what you do in the classroom everyday, is the biggest advocacy piece for World Languages. I recommend following him on Twitter--he has a lot of good insights and some very cool bowties.
5. Similarly, we were pushed by an ACTFL initiative to grow our own future teachers. The most salient idea being that our future language teachers might be sitting in our classrooms right now, and so we should encourage our students to consider a career in language teaching. Support the recruitment of the next generation of World Language Educators! Educators Rising | ACTFL Pilot Program http://tinyurl.com/EdRisingACTFL
6. Finally, I've been slow to jump on the Twitter train, but now that I'm finally there--I see so much possibility for instant PD and advocacy. Following the ACTFL page and the LexOne pages, helped me find some of my favorite bloggers or organizations. Try it! You will see what others are doing day to day and be inspired in your own practice. In fact, many of your colleagues from LexOne are on Twitter. Check out Sra. Carter's page to see what she's been up to...or Monsieur Jones for ideas on student leadership in the classroom or pushing students toward proficiency. LOWLT is also on Twitter and I must say I am proud of our district. We are Leading in Languages!
If you've never been to a museum in Germany, you don't have to travel too far to have a culturally enriching experience! Clay Hendrix at LHS had his level 5 students create their own museum artifacts after researching products that interested them from the time period they were studying. I talked further with Clay about this activity because it seemed creative and engaging as well as being something that pushed his students to take ownership of their learning.
I asked him about how long it took to set up because time is our most precious commodity. He said, "It's one of those activities that's so student driven that there's not a lot of planning on my part. It was really like, set up the parameters, give them the resources, do it!" Check out the video to find out more.
In a previous post I shared with you about Gallery Walks, and a classroom museum is yet another way to utilize this strategy in your classroom.
World Language Teacher Support Specialist (and Language Enthusiast)