High Tech/Low Tech: Refresh, Reflect, Restart Recharged
As the school year winds down and we all begin to breathe again, we look forward to a refresh over the summer. Perhaps that is a glass of lemonade, a cold beer, or an opportunity to finally update all those apps on your phone and laptop without having to worry about losing that important data that you need for tomorrow’s lesson, report, meeting… For me it meant the start of spring-summer cleaning. A trip down memory lane took me through over 20 years of teaching materials, most of which were outdated. I no longer use purple-inked mimeograph machine handouts (although it brought back memories of the smell of the chemicals used to make dittos), or an overhead projector for that matter. I kindly shared many of my handouts, old books, bulletin board materials that haven’t been used in over a decade with the recycling and garbage men of our neighborhood. Perhaps they will pick up a word or two of Spanish. During this refresh of my files I realized how much has changed in the way that I teach, prepare materials for students, and the way students learn now compared to years past. The majority of my files are now digital. I provide multiple means for students to learn content with media and text options. I better back up my computer before I do a refresh of my operating system or I’ll be sunk. When you’re writing curriculum or planning your lessons where do you go? Do you dig through your file drawers next to your desk or do you hit the Internet for ideas and materials?
That takes me to reflect. Summer is a great time to reflect on how this year, or the last few have been going. What do you want to change/upgrade from how you have been doing your job over the years? There are some great resources to help you reflect on your teaching and learning that will help you to set goals for what’s to come next year. Many of you may already be familiar with the TELL project. This is the Teacher Effectiveness for Language Learning framework that provides self-assessment and feedback forms to help you reflect on what you are doing really well and areas you might want to work on. The feedback forms and self-assessments can be completed digitally or printed, whatever your preference. These are also great for working with your department peers and sharing with your administrators so that the feedback that you are getting during observations is actually meaningful and useful. As you reflect on the past the TELL project can help you to restart in the future with clear goals for what you want your professional
growth to look like. For those who are already familiar with the TELL project, keep your eyes open for Catalyst which takes the TELL project one step further. Catalyst is an online tool developed by the collaborative efforts of PEARLL and CASLS which are national language resource centers. The idea behind Catalyst is to provide opportunities not only to reflect and set goals but also upload evidence and collaborate with a community of language professionals.
That takes me to restart. Don’t forget to take some time this summer to recharge so you can restart next year even stronger than this year. You may be choosing to do more digitally or perhaps you have found that hands-on manipulatives are where it’s at for you. There are numerous professional development opportunities for you over the summer to help you move forward on whatever goals you set for yourself. Consider the WAFLT Summer Professional Development opportunities, those available through national language resource centers such as CARLA to our west, and many others you can find in a google search. Some of these are in person live workshops and others are online opportunities that you can complete from the comfort of your lakeside view while in your PJs. Whether you recharge through travel, gardening, or gaming, take some “you” time. You’ve earned it.