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by Erica Fischer on Jan 14, 2016

Be an EPIC World Language Teacher in 2016!

Happy New Year from #langchat! Langchatters started off 2016 by discussing how they plan to be an EPIC language teacher this year. Participants shared the goals they ENVISION for 2016, reflected on how they will PLAN a route to each of those goals, talked about how they will IMPLEMENT a goal timeline, and proposed ways to COLLECT evidence of personal growth as world language teachers. Instructors were eager to ring in a new year of teaching and #langchat with a bang!

Thank you to all those who contributed to the first #langchat of the new year. We would also like to extend a big thank you to the moderators who led the Thursday chat — Laura (@SraSpanglish), Colleen (@CoLeeSensei), and Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell) — and the Saturday sequel — John (@CadenaSensei)!

Question 1: What goals do you ENVISION for 2016?

Langchatters have lots of goals for 2016! We bring you some of their teaching resolutions in no particular order:

  • Gradual refinement of the curriculum: @CoLeeSensei wrote, “My goal is to allow myself to make slow changes and really document what I do (for next time!) #neverremember.” @lovemysummer is also thinking about gradual modifications to the curriculum, “[focusing] on continually improving, but not overwhelming.”
  • More interpersonal speaking: @Marishawkins said, “I envision on focusing on assessing interpersonal speaking more.” @MmeCarbonneau also plans “to do MORE interpersonal and less presentational,” encouraging fellow instructors to “[give students] wings to SPEAK meaningfully.”
  • More purposeful planning: @SraSpanglish said, “I ENVISION more purposeful plans for this year. My #oneword resolution is REASON, so I’m aiming for good instructional choices.”
  • More student choice: @jlynnhambrick envisions “[giving] students more choice in their learning #studentcentered #teacherfaciliated.”
  • ‘Real’ lessons: @cadamsf1 said, “I envision lessons that connect to the real world and give students the power to communicate about real things in the real world.”
  • Quality over quantity: @WHS_French_ wrote, “[I’m] trying to remember that I don’t need to do all the things. Focus on QUALITY over quantity.”
  • Fewer colleague comparisons and less pressure: @WHS_French_ added, “[Another goal that I envision is] not comparing myself to colleagues with more years of experience! I put too much pressure on myself.”
  • More descriptors, fewer numbers: @CoLeeSensei envisions changes to her grade book. She wrote, “I ENVISION my new grade book with ‘descriptors’ – not numbers! […] I still have to submit a [number-based] grade for ‘report cards,’ but [I] figured out how to do both!” She plans to share a blog post shortly!
  • Guided goal-setting and reflection for students: @LisaShepard2 said, “I want to develop self-assessment strategies and goal-setting for my students.”

Question 2: How are you going to PLAN your route to your goal(s)?

Langchatters are determined to realize their goals. If you’re eager to plan a route to your own goals, they offered some steps to help you get there!

  • Let students hold you accountable: @jlynnhambrick said, “I lead a minute of mindfulness every morning over the loud speaker […] I just announced my idea to my [students and] now I can’t back out. They will hold me accountable. It’s what they want for their class.” @doriecp replied, “[Oh] man, I know that feeling! If I want to motivate myself to do something, I always tell my idea to my students.”
  • Backwards plan: Several instructors suggested planning backwards to move forward with a focus! @Marishawkins said, “I always think backwards planning is key- [I think about] where […] I want students to go and always remember that.” @ksampson4 agreed that “[backwards] planning is the gold standard!”
  • Write out a plan: Others suggested putting daily and long-term goals into writing to visualize them. @ProfeCochran said, “[One] of the new things I’m doing [to] streamline my teaching includes creating [slides for] every class, every day #scatterbrained!” @CoLeeSensei has turned to pen and paper for the same reason: “I’ve actually gone back to a paper daybook/planner so I can ‘see’ where I’m going.”

Question 3: How will you IMPLEMENT a timeline for your goal(s)?

Implementing a timeline may seem daunting, but Langchatters noted that it doesn’t need to be so intimidating. They offered advice to make implementation feel doable!

  • Surround yourself with like-minded instructors! @K_Griffith wrote, “It helps me to do this with other people. I’d recommend getting with like-minded teachers, if at all possible.” Similarly, @RLavrencic said, “Another idea I’m using is making a small cohort of like-minded teachers to pilot new curriculum [and] try out each other’s lessons.” @CoLeeSensei agreed that “[finding] those ‘like-minded’ [teachers] is key!,” adding, “I have [one] other in my school…a blessing!”
  • Break big goals down into manageable steps! Langchatters encouraged one another to follow the advice they give to students so often. @SraSpanglish said, “You must break down your own goals as you would break down students’ to help them.” @TELLproject suggested, “[Think] of short-medium-long timelines to build in growth moments (accountability) for yourself. [What] about a 30-60-90 [day] plan?” and shared a resource to help instructors reach their goals.
  • Keep revisiting the goals you set back in August! Participants acknowledged the importance of not losing sight of goals set in August. @bjillmoore said, “I set my goals at the beginning of the school year and keep checking and reviewing [them].” @Marishawkins echoed this comment, writing, “[In January] I just try to remember my goals from [August] and keep trying to do those.”

Question 4: How will you COLLECT evidence of your growth?

Langchatters recognized the importance of reflecting on personal growth as an instructor and collecting evidence of progress towards goals. They mentioned different forms of evidence, including the following:

  • Feedback from students: @CoLeeSensei wrote, “[For] me, [to collect evidence I] ask students to ‘tell’ me about their growth over the term…#amidoingmyjob.” @SraSpanglish pointed out the importance of asking for feedback from students even when we feel successful: “[I also do a] survey on [students’] feelings about activities I *thought* [I] rocked.” @CoLeeSensei replied, “Absolutely – we learn a lot when we ask them how it went for them [or] according to them!” @virgilalligator proposed one way to solicit student feedback: “[Have you] ever tried @dotstorming? [Students] can comment on each others’ ideas as you solicit feedback [and] you can ask them to vote!” @RLavrencic added that students can even help instructors envision future growth: “I usually show student sample projects [from a previous class] and ask [students] how they suggest to make it better. [This is a great] motivator.”
  • Feedback from colleagues: @SrtaJohnsonEBHS wrote, “I’m part of a learning group of teachers, and we observe each other once per quarter [and] videotape [one another]. So that’s neat.”
  • Blogging: To document her growth, @CoLeeSensei plans to write “more quick blog posts about [her] learning process #recordforme.”
  • Quantifiable goals: @K_Griffith noted that quantifiable goals make collecting evidence much easier: “That’s why our goals need to be quantifiable. I like goals like, ‘Write a positive email to a parent daily.’ I can do that.”

Finally, in what many were calling the tweet of the night, @bjillmoore cited student progress as ideal evidence: “If my goals are ultimately linked to my students learning and progress, they provide the evidence in their work and growth.”

Conclusion

As last week’s conversation made clear, #Langchat2016 is off to an EPIC start. Langchatters discussed how to be the best teacher they can be in 2016. Participants shared goals they ENVISION for the new year, reflected on PLANNING, talked about how to IMPLEMENT a goal timeline, and proposed ways to COLLECT evidence of personal growth as instructors. They also continued to express their gratitude for #langchat. As @MmeCarbonneau asserted, “To be an EPIC teacher, you need to be a part of #langchat.”

Thank You!

Thank you to all of the EPIC educators who joined us once or twice last week! Don’t forget that you can get your #langchat fill both Thursday at 8 p.m. ET AND Saturday morning at 10 a.m. ET!

Due to space limitations, many tweets had to be omitted from this summary. To view the entire conversation, you can access the full transcript on our tweet archive. “What do you want to #langchat about in 2016? (Perhaps to help with your EPIC plans?)” (@SraSpanglish). Send us your ideas for future #langchats!

Erica Fischer
Erica is the founder and CEO of Calico Spanish. Her passion for teaching her own children to speak Spanish led her to create Calico Spanish. Our mission is to give all children the opportunity to learn to speak real Spanish for life.

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