Beth Hanlon, OFLA Executive Recorder and Editor of The Cardinal
Spanish Teacher, Oberlin High School
With the onset of the pandemic and the move to online teaching, our Ohio Department of Education World Language Consultants really came through for us with the immediate availability of online professional development. Social media also became a place to find support. For example, Facebook teaching groups transitioned to online support, and new groups popped up to meet teachers’ needs.
While attending an ODE Zoom meeting, another teacher mentioned she was taking a Spanish class through a school in Spain that had also gone online. Excited, I contacted the school, Taronja School in Valencia, and signed myself up for a week of classes for 50€ in mid-April. I finally stopped taking the course at the beginning of July when they changed the format as the school began to reopen for in-person classes.
Every morning I attended class from 8:30-9:30am. I settled down into our office chair with a cup of coffee and my notebook. I joined the class with people from all over the world experiencing the same global uncertainty. Our teacher, Andrés, reviewed advanced grammar with us and we discussed a wide variety of topics. He was friendly, entertaining, and funny. We quickly became a little online family. This structured hour of my morning truly kept me sane with the craziness around us.
Yes, this class took place during my school hours. I answered emails before my Spanish class and continued to answer and send emails, hold Zoom office hours, grade, and create online assignments for the rest of the day after my Spanish class. This class was professional development in my content area that was accessible due to the current state of the world.
As teachers, we need to learn new pedagogy, but we need to keep up on our personal language skills also. Taking this class was a great boost for my language skills and I walked away with copious amounts of pages in my notebook filled with vocabulary that I can share with my students.
If you are not a native speaker, like myself, don’t forget to nurture your language skills! Even in a pandemic, you never know when opportunities for this will pop up!