"Mommy, what's wrong?" Jake, my 5 year old son, asked me. (My body tends to shake when I'm trying not to cry.) But I simply could not hold back tears as middle school students from a special education Spanish class ran through the gym with flags from around the world heralding the start of the Language and Literacy Night performance at CSMS. It was a scene reminiscent of an Olympic Games opening ceremony, and I was so glad I had brought my son to the celebration with me.
"Mommy, what's wrong?"
"Nothing baby, I just cry sometimes when I'm feeling happy or proud."
You know the feeling, when your students make it to the next proficiency level, or raise money for kids in Haiti, or push themselves to achieve something they didn't think was possible, like organizing a day for world peace and inciting the enthusiasm of the whole school. Sometimes it's something as simple as your first grade immersion student remembering a new German vocabulary word, or your high schoolers creating art from nothing, or critiquing their own writing. An authentic Chinese food night, a Spanish Spelling Bee, writing a children's book, creating a "Ted Talk," publishing their own blog in the L2, making a virtual CV, creating museum exhibits from German culture, charting the growth of a seed into a plant in Mandarin...these are all things that LexOne WL teachers have been proud of over the past few months. Some of them I've already highlighted in Voices From the Field, but as the year comes to an end, I am happy to say that I have more posts than I could even share, so you'll have to wait until the Fall to hear the rest of the stories.
"Am I really sitting in a middle school gym in Red Bank, SC?" I asked myself as group after group of normally awkward adolescents came to life in front of me. Tonight they were dancers. Tonight they were performers, speakers of World Languages, world travelers on a quest to drink from the fountain of knowledge.
One of the parents sitting near me saw my tears and asked, "Is your child in the performance?" I said, "No, but I work with these teachers and I am just so impressed with what they've done here tonight!"
I couldn't help but swell with pride for Ana Micheli and the whole WL team at CSMS, and in that moment I thought, "This is why I'm here. If these teachers can bring this kind of dedication, talent and enthusiasm out of their students, I am going to do everything I possibly can to support, encourage and celebrate them."
I visited Ana's class a few weeks after the performance, and was asking her about her inspiration for the show. She said, "Some of these kids are not athletes, or they haven't found their way yet, so we wanted to give them a place to shine."
How have you helped your students to shine this year? How have you shined this year?
As you reflect, I'm sure there have been triumphs as well as defeats and joy as well as sorrow. Some of you are moving on to new adventures and we will miss you terribly, but we support you with excitement. Some of you will spend the summer refining your lessons, working on curriculum, attending workshops, translating Science materials or learning a new literacy curriculum. Some of you will take a much needed vacation, or visit your families back home, and will come back recharged and refreshed.
My hope is that whatever you do this summer, you will be proud of yourself and all of your hard work and that you will come back next fall ready to shine!
World Language Teacher Support Specialist (and Language Enthusiast)