Debbie Varga, Spanish Teacher
Revere Local Schools
This time of year always allows for many moments of self-reflection. Sometimes, however, one can fall into the trap of “I could have…” or “I should have…” moments. I wanted to write about some topics that can help refocus you at this time of the year.
It is so easy to constantly compare yourself with colleagues; the nature of a vertically-aligned curriculum lends itself to that scenario. However, I want you to think about your situation and the unique group of students under your charge. We know it is out of our control when others compare our beliefs, methods, and strategies. In order for us to achieve our personal best, we need to hold strong to the best practices that will allow us to individually “move forward” without compromising ourselves in the process.
A resource that I frequently turn to is the Guiding Principles for Language Learning (available at https://www.actfl.org/educator-resources/guiding-principles-for-language-learning). These guiding principles are key for creating a pedagogical foundation based on world language best practices. If you are a teacher of students at the novice proficiency level, having access to the AP CED (Course and Exam Description) for your specific language can provide a solid foundation for scaffolding and vertically-aligning the AP themes and essential questions in a PreAP level program.
Creating an inclusive learning environment for all learners can be accomplished through small-group instruction and assessment via a station/blended learning model. Even a small amount of this approach on a weekly basis can make a difference for those students who may have always “fallen between the cracks” throughout their educational experience (not just in the area of world languages). Technology integration is helpful with a station model and can allow for independent student work while the teacher floats or leads in small-group lessons. One of the wonderful things about this model is that you can truly personalize for your needs and those of your students.
Finally, advocacy for a supportive educational environment that promotes lifelong language learning and global citizenship is at the top of my personal refocus list. Creating your own PLN (Personal Learning Network) through conferences (both in-person and virtual), blogs, social media, and professional organization resources can help you make connections locally, nationally, and globally. The power of connection and reinvention is always available to you! What are your next steps?