Chronicles of a New Language Teacher

Semester 1 Check-In

Lesley Chapman, French Teacher, Sycamore Community Schools

With the participation of Leah Hunt, French Teacher, Sycamore Community Schools

It’s hard to believe an entire semester has passed since we last checked in with Leah Hunt, my colleague in French at Sycamore High School in Cincinnati.  SLOs are behind us, IPAs are being tweaked, and her second year of teaching seems to be flying by!  I sat down with Leah to catch up on her semester, and her hopes for 2015.

LC: As we enter the end of first semester and semester exams, what is on your mind?

LH: I certainly have a lot on my mind! I am proud of getting myself and my students to this point, but I know there is still a lot of work to be done and a long road ahead. While feeling the stress of getting students through exams and beginning a new semester, I also feel rejuvenated and ready to work hard this semester! After my first observation, I now have a much clearer sense of what I need to work on and I’m determined to meet my new goals.

LC: What is/has been the greatest challenge for you in creating and implementing exams?

LH: The greatest challenge in creating exams for me is finding a developmentally-appropriate authentic source (text, video clip, etc.) to center my IPAs on. This can be especially difficult in creating assessments for my novice learners. Most resources out there are made for language learners, so you really have to dig to find something authentic and appropriate. In terms of implementing exams, I still struggle with timing- as a beginning teacher it is difficult to gauge how long to make a test, especially with having so many varying abilities in my novice learners.  I recall one of my semester exams being much too short last year and the other being too long. Time is also a challenge for me during speaking tests and getting through them all in a timely manner. I enjoy speaking with my students individually and also feel the need to provide them with specific and immediate feedback on their progress- which slows me down.

LC: What are your teaching New Year’s Resolutions?  How do you hope to see them through?

LH: I have many: I want to find ways of incorporating more culture, music and literature into my curriculum- all things that have driven my passion for French and for wanting to teach it to others. I am committed to learning more French songs on my guitar- something my students really enjoyed last year. I also intend to focus much more on pacing and planning instruction- developing strong lessons with smooth transitions, a hook that both engages and provides a rationale for learning the material, all while staying in the target language, of course. I have given up internal subbing in my building in order to make more time to focus on these responsibilities. I also would like to observe my mentor at least once a month. Differentiation is important, so I want to concentrate on it, especially in my Novice French I class which has the greatest variation in ages and abilities.  I have been collaborating with colleagues from various departments to develop effective differentiation strategies.

LC: What is on your “teacher wish list” for 2015?                                                 

LH: I am hoping that things start to get a little easier- more implicit and automatic in terms of lesson design and delivery; and in some ways things already have. I hope that my teaching will look more ¨natural¨ in 2015.

Hats off to our newly-minted colleagues in world language education.  They certainly have a lot of balls in the air.  We will check back in with Leah later in the year to see how her year has progressed.  Until then, I hope to see all beginning teachers at the OFLA conference in Kalahari!

This entry was posted in Committee News, Vol. 53, No. 2 - Winter 2015. Bookmark the permalink.