I always knew I wanted to teach when I grew up and could clearly see myself surrounded by energetic little ones hanging on my every word. I loved everything about school and I was going to be the best elementary teacher ever! At the age of 21, I decided to take a break from my university studies and volunteered to serve as a missionary for my church. I was quite surprised when I was assigned to work in France and Belgium and that I would be speaking French! Did they not read my application? I had taken Spanish in high school, not French. Little did I know that my life was about to completely change directions. After nearly two years of living and working abroad, I had fallen in love with the French language, and its people. I knew at that point that when I returned home to finish my degree, I could either continue the studies I had begun and be quite ordinary or change paths completely and be extraordinary. I chose the latter.
As a teacher, I want to take my students on a linguistic and cultural journey. Learning a new language is wonderfully challenging experience. It takes practice and lots of it. In the classroom, I am not married to one particular method or approach but strive to incorporate the best elements of multiple teaching strategies. My main goal is to provide authentic language experiences for my students. Through the use of technology I am able to enrich my students’ learning in new and exciting ways. Google Earth allows us explore French speaking countries all over the world. Through online classroom tools such as Voicethread, Edmodo, and Glogster, my students can demonstrate their ever expanding language skills in new and creative ways.
Structure is an important element in my classroom. A typical lesson is divided into three parts; a “warm up” to help students transition, focus and prepare for the lesson of the day, a “presentation” with direct instruction and modeling of content / objective for the day followed by guided and independent practice of the skill being taught. I typically end class with an “exit ticket” to assess student learning and guide my instructional decisions for future lessons. What makes my classroom special is the environment I create for my students; one in which students feel comfortable taking risks and experimenting with this new language they are learning. The structure gives them a framework in which to operate and feel safe in while the activities we do challenge students to really use their ever expanding language skills to communicate in real and authentic ways. Many of my classroom activities incorporate realia from the French speaking world be it photographs, advertising, music, short stories, poetry, film etc. All with the goal of immersing students into the Francophone world as much as possible.
Although as a teacher I have supposedly moved to the other side of the desk, I will always be a student. I teach because I am passionate about the French language and fascinated by its culture and peoples. Teaching is something I was born to do. The classroom is my home and my students feel at home in my class. As I grow in my profession it is always with my students in mind. Every time I read, hear or see something that excites me in French, my first thoughts are how I can best share it with my students. Each year my students and I embark on a journey together, I as their guide and they as my inspiration.