Reflective Practices and Professional Development

General Competency Nine.  The teacher candidate is a reflective practitioner who continually evaluates the effects of his/her choices and actions on others (students, parents, and other professionals in the learning community) and who actively seeks out opportunities to grow professionally.

Principle 9.  Language teachers are reflective practitioners who continually evaluate the effects of their choices and actions on others and who actively seek out opportunities to grow professionally.

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Professional Growth Plan:  December, 2011

There are several strategies I would like to pursue to enhance my professional growth.

I aim to continually improve my Spanish.  I feel every foreign language teacher needs to be continually using and improving their target language, but in my position (having not used it much since I got my BA in ’91) that is even more important.

This next semester I have a very exciting opportunity; I’m going to be going to Puerto Rico with the College of Agricultural Science and Natural Resources.  I am really excited about this, it’s going to be a combination of a NOVA special (we’re going to be measuring frogs, getting in the flight line of bats, and seeing the ecosystems in person) and a little bit of a self-directed practicum (Professor Ferraro has asked if I would give occasional five minute quick & useful Spanish lessons to the other students in the corrresponding class that meets weekly.)

I also am hoping to go to Guatemala on a service learning trip this summer.  One thing I have learned from my practicum and my observations of other teachers, is how much I admire the L2 only classrooms.  I can’t wait to get to the point where I can be the one leading such a classroom; but in order to do that, I need to do more than read more Spanish, I need to spend time in a Spanish speaking country.  I need to be in a place where if I’m going to communicate, it needs to be done in Spanish.  For that reason, I’m interested in taking part in building houses alongside native Guatemalans.

Over Spring Break 2011, I arranged a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico to spend a week at a language school.  It was very beneficial for me because it reminded me of how much I knew and renewed my confidence in my capabilities, and re-energized my efforts towards improving my skills.

Without the internet, that trip would have been a lot harder to arrange.  I was able to look up various language schools and check on their reputations and contact previous students.  I was able to find various communities of people who either live in Oaxaca or travel frequently to Oaxaca to discuss with them the logistics and safety issues of travelling alone to Oaxaca.  That kind of research is one of the amazing features of the internet.

I also use the internet to search for leads on new interesting books, both for my self-directed “Silent Sustained Reading” program (following Krashen’s theories) to improve my Spanish, and to learn more about how others think about teaching.

In October I attended the NILA conference in Omaha, and took part in several lectures that shared pertinent information for the language teacher.  I especially enjoyed the keynote speaker Lisa Lilley and had the opportunity to peruse some materials.

The Zocalo at night

Learning about learning.  Absolutely fascinating!

(Photo is of the Zocalo (main square) of Oaxaca, Mexico.)

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