Nicole Hanlon, OFLA Beginning Teachers Chair
French Teacher, Buckeye Valley High School
The OFLA Beginning Teacher Committee is working hard to connect with new teachers and to support them in becoming excellent, innovative, resourceful, and long-lasting world language teachers. Our goal is to provide a network of resources, strategies, and tools for new teachers. We want new teachers to know they are not alone and that OFLA is here to help them. To this end, we will interview new teachers throughout the year and highlight them in The Cardinal. Abby Arace is a French teacher at Wilmington High School in Wilmington, Ohio. This is her fourth year teaching French.
- What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
My favorite thing about being a teacher is forming relationships with my students. Since I’m the only French teacher at my school, I get to have the same students year after year, and watching my kids grow as French students and people is so exciting and rewarding.
- What made you want to teach?
I’ve always loved the process of going from ignorance to competence, starting out knowing nothing about something and feeling yourself become stronger and more adept the more you learn. Being able to guide others through that process is a big part of why I wanted to teach.
- Who has had the biggest impact on your teaching and why?
My mentor teacher in grad school, Nicole Hanlon, has been my most valuable resource, sounding board, supporter… you name it! She has been guiding me through being a newer teacher, and I know she will keep doing that even when I’m a not-so-new teacher.
- What is one thing you learned from another teacher that helped you this year?
An intervention specialist at my school told me that any teacher could spend hours and hours after the bell rings working – there’s always something to do! But you’ll never earn a prize for being the last car in the lot at the end of the day, and so it’s important to set boundaries around how you spend your time and energy, especially after the last bell has rung.
- What is a project or lesson in your classroom that you are really proud of or happy with?
In my French III class, we do a mini-unit about a famous Canadian children’s story, Le chandail de hockey. As we read the story, we talk about what a country’s pastimes can tell you about their values and how the different themes in the story (language barriers, religion, economic difference/division) resonate with our culture today. This is my fourth year teaching this story and all the activities I created about it, and I am proud of how far I have come with it.
- What is one thing that you have struggled with as a new teacher?
I started teaching in the 19-20 school year, and so I have mostly known school years affected by COVID. Navigating all of the struggles that came with teaching during a pandemic was really difficult, and the constant change was unsettling for both my students and me. I’m happy to be mostly on the other side of that!
- What advice do you have for new teachers?
If you are a new teacher, know that you are doing better than you think! Though it is so easy to be overwhelmed as a new teacher, know that as long as you are showing up every day ready to meet your students where they are, you’re doing great.