This week in Voices From The Field, I have a challenge for you. Take a moment from your day to stop, breathe, and just gaze at the stars.
What do you see?
If you are a realist, you may say, “Obviously, I see stars, a night’s sky, some trees, and a constellation”. To my wonderful realists, I cannot deny that truth. You are, in fact, interpreting one correct and very logical answer. However, I challenge everyone:
Look again. You may see a BUSINESS TIE or, thinking of the cold winter weather, an ICE SCRAPER FOR YOUR CAR.
Step back and take a look from a different angle.
You may notice that other stars embellish the formation which starts to look something like this:
What do you see now?
When I look at this picture, I reflect on my summer as a volunteer for a camp in Maine… What do I see?
I see a bunch of claws from my first time hauling for LOBSTER.
My brother, on the other hand, would tilt his head and see the antennas of the EVIL GRASSHOPPER in his favorite childhood movie, A Bug’s Life.
You may see a WARRIOR WITH HIS ARM RAISED.
What is in his other hand? Is it the HEAD OF A LION, a SHIELD or is he wielding an ARROW?
If you are an astronomer: You may know this to be the constellation Orion, with the three recognizable stars across the center known as “Orion’s belt”.
If you are a mythologist: You would tell me that Orion was a celebrated hunter in Greek mythology.
If you are a linguist: You would mention one of the stars in Orion’s belt is called “Alnilam” in Arabic, meaning that it is not a belt, but a string of pearls. You may also remind me that in Spanish the three stars of Orion’s belt are called “Las Tres Marias” or, in places like the Philippines and Puerto Rico, “Los Tres Reyes Magos”.
“We all look at the same stars and see different things”.
Based on your background in Astronomy, the language you speak, the stories from your culture or your past experiences, we all saw different images in the stars.
How does this apply to the classroom?
Just like we, as teachers, bring our culture and experiences to the classroom, each child brings a set of experiences with them. It is important to understand why students think and feel the way they do, what struggles they have in life and what makes them feel alive. Getting to know students’ experiences builds relationships and encourages student engagement. Most importantly, it expands our knowledge of the world, making us better listeners, better individuals, better educators.
How to do it?
Why spend so much time gazing at stars?
With new experience and new knowledge, our first glance can change over time to form something more elaborate, more beautiful. Sometimes we need to take a look and then... pause... to look harder.
Why spend so much time gazing at the stars? Because, my sweet friends, with time our pupils are able to open to the night’s sky, then, and only then, can we see beauty in the dark and our skies are forever brighter.
Have you ever felt so overwhelmed that someone else's good news made you feel worse? I have. In fact, at times, I struggle with jealousy, both professional and personal. How does that teacher get so much done in one week? How do others get grades done so quickly? How does that person always look so put together when I just crawled out of bed? Doing work (or workouts) BEFORE school? Oh, how I wish I had the energy others had!
Have you ever tried that new activity in your classroom and it failed miserably (the first time)? But you kept on revising and changing it so that it worked better and better the more you tried it? I have! In fact, I have failed many times in my life and career. I try to learn from my mistakes (they be but many) and keep on moving. Yes, I usually have a good cry, and sometimes my recovery time isn't as quick as I'd like, but something inside tells me not to give up because those kids, or now I think, those teachers, are just to important and they deserve another try.
We can often be our own worsts critics, talking to ourselves in ways we would never talk to someone else. We beat ourselves up if we make a mistake or if we don't think we compare to others around us.
If you are at all like me, you might need to remind yourself that it's okay. We all mess up, we all struggle--that's called learning. While you feel you are struggling, someone else is looking at YOU and wondering how YOU are so awesome and how YOU keep rocking every day. Recognize this feeling when working with students. School makes many students feel like failures, and they get discouraged and don't want to try anymore either. This video is not new, and many of you have probably seen it already, but I encourage you to take the six minutes to watch it again. It is a beautiful example of what listening to feedback and making revisions can do for our kids and for us. So, as we are ending one year and starting the next, please take some time to be proud of how you've grown from the difficult, uncomfortable times in your life. Reflect on the lives you have touched, the smiles you've put on faces, and continue to persevere! Keep going, keep learning, keep teaching and thriving. And remember, while you just might not be where you want to be yet, someone is looking at YOU and wanting to be where you are.
In this issue of Voices From the Field we would like to recognize our winner for the Communication strand of Teachers of Power Skills! Thank you to all who nominated a deserving teacher for this recognition! We received 13 nominees highlighting teachers who instill effective communication strategies in students. Candidates are rated using the TOPS rubric and the winners are particularly recognized for the ability to get students to use the power skill.
The Teachers of Power Skills nomination process recognizes teachers that not only possess power skills, but, most importantly, instill those skills in students.
Teachers of the Interpersonal power skill are able to: get along with others to effectively apply the social norms that advance industry or civic contribution by:
Please help me in congratulating Sra. Lisette Geib from Riverbluff High School! Read about how Lisette instills the Interpersonal Power Skill in students.
What peers had to say:
"Sra. Geib does a phenomenal job of getting students to interact in Spanish, even in Spanish I. She applies scaffolding, a rewards system and authentic opportunities for students to engage in the language. She also encourages students to take risks with the language. She not only takes students abroad on trips, but serves as her own travel agent to organize a lower-cost authentic itinerary for students to participate in language immersion".
What admin had to say:
"Lisette is a student-centered teacher whose facilitated learning experiences designed for students are engaging and rich with language and culture. She is a leader in developing international world language experiences. We are so proud to have her working alongside our students and other world language teachers," Principal Luke Clamp.
Happy November, LOWLT! In this issue of Voices From the Field we would like to recognize our winner for the Teachers of Power Skills strand Communication! Thank you to all who nominated a deserving teacher for this strand! We received 13 nominees highlighting teachers who instill effective communication strategies in students. Candidates are rated using the TOPS rubric and the winners are particularly recognized for the ability to get students to use the power skill.
Teachers of the Communication power skill are able to:
Please help me in congratulating Yenobis Amundaray from Red Bank Elementary! Please read below to hear a bit about Yenobis and how she instills the use of effective communication in students and with parents.
What her peers had to say:
"She deserves this recognition because she always has the ability to communicate with students, teachers and parents in getting honest feedback that could help the school or our team".
"She has high expectations for all of her students including the expectation of speaking Spanish at all times, inside and outside of the classroom".
"She is passionate about the job and tries to incorporate everyone in the conversation to help others do and be the best they can be!"
What administration had to say:
"I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Sra. Yenobis Amundaray and getting to know her as a classroom teacher and as an individual. Sra. Amundaray teaches our fourth grade Spanish immersion students and works to help them develop effective communication skills. She has the highest work ethic and the most integrity of anyone I have ever worked with before. Sra. Amundaray recently coordinated an event to allow her students to share a presentation on an extreme weather event in the Spanish language. With Sra. Amundaray’s guidance, the students collaborated with each other to research, develop, and to present the information innovatively to their parents and other invited guests. In addition to her daily classroom responsibilities, she also serves as an instructor in our grant-funded Strengthening Families Program. Red Bank Elementary is so fortunate to have Sra. Amundaray as part of our team! We are very proud of her being named a “Teachers Of Power Skills winner for the Communication strand.” Congratulations!"
Principal of Red Bank Elementary
It has been an incredible last few months for Lexington One World Language and Dual Language Immersion teachers in terms of advocacy, collaboration and awards! Check out what has been happening!
Midway Immersion Welcomes New Kindergarten Teacher
Pelion High hosts the first German National Honor Society Induction
Mandarin students partake in Chinese sports
Clemson Connects With Students From Five Lexington One High Schools
German students across the district observe history and culture
Lexington One students win awards at the FeriaSCSC competition
This week in Voices From the Field we will be highlighting some LOWLT and immersion classrooms that observed Hispanic Heritage Month and National German Week!
Hispanic Heritage Month
National German Week
The Overview Effect is a sense of oneness, a recognition that we're all a single human family, that the little things aren't as big as we worry about, and that the world is fragile and we have to care for it. I think taking the students up briefly to view our beautiful world as a delicate sphere that we all belong to imparts a cosmic responsibility to be kinder to each other," Clay Hendrix (Lexington High School: AATG Presentation)
As you may know, it is the official start to the National German week which will lasts from September 30 - October 6. In order to celebrate the kick off of the week, I would like to share with you some awesome updates from our German program!
Meet A German!
AATG Teacher Retreat
LexOne offers its first German Honor Society
First Encounters Traveling Exhibit in Lexington!
RBHS' Sarah Buckliew hosted the AATG First Encounters Menschen begegnen sich bilingual exhibit! Within this exhibit students were able to investigate the continuing history of migration and its effects in shaping the German-American transatlantic friendship. From the beginnings of European immigration to North America, Germans have contributed to political, cultural and social aspects of the US. Students were able to investigate further the encounters between the new German arrivals and local populations.
Coming soon on Voices From the Field:
This particular activity I spotted on Sr. Redondo's Twitter and asked him to share with you all! (Hint: Tweet @LOWLT so that we can see the awesome things you are doing in your classroom!)
What I love about this activity:
- Students are using the language for real-world purposes!
- Since it is an Information Gap Activity, students have to work together to share information (Learn more about Information Gap activities below).
- Look how much fun the students are having speaking! Another example of an activity that lowers affective filters!
One student has been robbed and called the police. The victim is facing the screen, and the cop gives it the back while listening to the thief’s description that the victim will say. The victim will pick from a group of pictures that will be displayed on the screen.
When the victim has finished describing, the cop will turn around and guess from the pictures we can see on the TV following the victim’s description of the thief. They switch roles several times, so everyone has the chance to listen and speak.
Below you can find pictures of the students participating in the activity and images they used to describe!
Game of Taboo:
Students have to use circumlocution to get their partner to guess a word they are describing without saying the forbidden "taboo" words.
Here is an example for environment topic tested on High School, Middle School and Elementary Immersion. See how much fun Midway Elementary immersion had doing it at the DLI camp this summer!
See something you want help implementing in the classroom? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will help you get set up!
It was so nice to see many of you at the August Inservice and some very recently at site visits! For those of you I haven’t met yet, I am Amanda Hajji, the new World Languages Teacher Support Specialist. While I am new to this role, I am not new to Lexington One or world languages. I have taught varying levels of French I-V at Lexington High School for eight years where I was also adviser of the yearbook. Currently, I am serving my fourth year on the SCFLTA executive board where I have also had the opportunity to advocate for world languages with the ACTFL-NCSSFL team on Capitol Hill.
I believe that every child deserves to come to a class where they feel welcomed and loved. Every teacher deserves to have the resources and time to be able to provide such a classroom environment. My goal is to make sure that each of you has the support and resources you need in order to reach your classroom and professional goals. I am particularly passionate about sharing ideas and working with colleagues to come up with communicative activities that promote team-building in a multicultural classroom, using technology in the classroom, virtual exchanges, interpersonal games, and creating authentic experiences for students.
You might have heard that we hosted our very first district wide Immersion Summer Camp in July: Passport to Adventure. Special thanks to our LOWLT team who taught at the camp: Adela Rivera, Birte Wachtel, Myriam Grandjean, Cal Coggins, Martha Rapio, Neyibeth Gonzalez Briceno, Alexandra Gutierrez, Sandra Sancho Quesada, Yongmei Yang, Yi Zheng, Marcy Hite and Yrvin Canelo! We had 209 students studying all four immersion languages (Chinese, French, German, and Spanish) under one roof. There were 5 Spanish classes, 3 German, 2 French, and 2 Chinese. It was such a great success, we are already planning for next year! We'd especially like to see more involvement from MS and HS immersion students as classroom helpers. Let me know in the Spring if you have students interested in volunteering for the Summer of 2020! Check out pictures and performances here.
Please check back here for updates and classroom highlights. We want to share the awesome things you and your language learners are doing so please keep us posted! If you would like me to come out to your school, would like to submit a guest blog for Voices From the Field, or need to reach me, you can contact me at email@example.com or in my office at 803-821-1054. I look forward to hearing from you.
World Language Teacher Support Specialist (and Language Enthusiast)