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Teachers’ Corner  Teachers' Diaries - Stephanie
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Stephanie is an experienced teacher who is returning to the classroom after taking time off to raise her children. She teaches French to 9th and 10th grade students in a suburban school outside of Cleveland, Ohio. Although these are her true diary entries, all names and identifying details have been changed.

Stephanie's diary entries are in chronological order, from the most current entry. You can also browse the entries by month:

February | March | April | May | July

September | November | December

July 2004

Dear Diary,

Enfin! Au revoir les élèves!!! Students are headed for the beach or summer school. One teacher workday to go. Another school year just about completed. As I file papers and take down classroom displays, I almost allow myself to taste the "freedom". Simultaneously, I reflect on what makes me excited about returning next year …the paper work, the bells, the phone calls asking for a grade to be changed (so a student can stay on the volleyball team, for example), 20-minute lunches, hall duty, meetings…JUST KIDDING!!!

I am looking forward to continuing to work with colleagues who are talented professionals - a team of people who are hard-working, but also do not take themselves too seriously. In fact, we have had hilarious times together when I am certain we acted no older than the students we teach. These are teachers with whom I am able to be honest about failures as well as successes. Teachers who have good, common sense-based approaches to best practices in foreign language teaching. Teachers who share resources as freely as ideas. Teachers who care and support each other in a non-judgmental manner. My colleagues have made me feel like a valuable, welcome addition to the department this year and renewed my sense about the fact that people - teachers as well as students and parents- are at the core of instruction.

Learning that next year has been officially designated as "Year of Languages," I am enthusiastic about playing a role in a profession that is embarking on a campaign to remind the country about how vital it is to master other languages and to become aware of other cultures. I think every foreign language teacher will have a contribution to make in coming up with ways that we can singularly and collectively get our message out. I am excited about having a true cause that supercedes standardized testing and has much broader implications than No Child Left Behind. Hopefully, no foreign language teacher will be left behind!

Mostly, and it's one of the things I most like about teaching, after I get re-energized, I look forward to the chance to have another clean slate, a chance to do it better. I want to find ways to have my students experience culture. I want to look into ways to use technology more effectively. I want to come up with ways to better showcase student work and accomplishments and involve the larger school community in the process. I want to find ways to have more students catch the incurable bug I have - for learning, for speaking another language, for taking pride in one's work and for always striving to do a better job.


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May 2004

Dear Diary,

The three-quarter mark! How could the school year have gone this fast?? Still some time to take stock and implement some changes before the final stretch. I decided to encourage my students to be more introspective. Subsequently I took a big risk myself, by asking them to critique my performance. I ended up learning so much by focusing on their insights and suggestions.

I asked students to identify what had been going well for them. Some of what they came up with truly brought a smile to my face. Their comments, which I will file in a special folder for those days when I feel discouraged, include:

"Understanding what you're saying when you're talking in French the whole time." "I have been able to put thoughts together in French, not just memorize everything." "I'm doing really well in passé composé. It's easy." (Just wait, monsieur!) "I think I am understanding usage better and better because we've done so many activities." "I'm feeling more comfortable in trying to speak French." "Working with partners helps me a lot."

Student response to the questions in which I asked them to tell me what had not been going so well and also to identify their specific end-of-year goals were as amusing as they were insightful. The misspellings are theirs, and only add to the charm, in my opinion! Based on their writing, I did conclude that I am perhaps expecting my students to produce more French and with greater accuracy than some of them are demonstrating in English!

"I could volentere a lot more."
"I have problems congregating the verbs."
"My pernunciation is getting better."
"My writing is not to good."
"I want to learn to speak semi-fluently"
"I need to take a more active role in speaking"
"Please help me keep on task and awake to do my class work."
"Tell my parents when I don't do good."
"My goal is to have a French mindset, not only in class but at home as well."
"I'm going to make French more interesting for myself by listening to more French music."

Coinciding with when report cards came out, we examined a typical French report card. For some reason (had I forgotten that high school students can be brutally honest?!!), I decided to give my students an opportunity to create a French-style report card for me. I asked them to identify five criteria that they felt were relevant in evaluating a foreign language teacher, determine my grade for each of those criteria out of 20 (à la française) and to come up with appropriate "observations" or comments. I have mentally been reviewing their feedback ever since!

Homework, quite predictably, appeared on many of the report cards for me. Numerous students obviously saw this assignment as an opportunity to lobby for diminished requirements outside of (as well as inside) class. One student made a plea for more balanced assignments ("some nights there's too much, others too little"). This is something I will look at as well as the fact that I had grades that were just slightly above average on such criteria as "playing games," "showing movies" and "having fun."

From their comments, it looks like students do not understand fully my goal of having them be more responsible after an absence and contact a classmate for notes and assignments. One of my pet peeves is when students return to school and ask me if they missed anything. I have been trying to train them to rely less on me to get caught up. From their comments, I can tell that several students have not picked up on my objective. As one put it, "You are not very organized or helpful when it comes to filling students in on missing work."

I felt equally misunderstood about my habit of tuning out when students ask questions or respond in English when the "Défense de parler anglais" sign is up (most of the time!). According to one student, "Madame, we could be screaming about a fire and you probably would still not hear us!"

I have also been thinking about the words of one student, "Madame, I think you over-extend yourself with too much work." If he only knew how much I needed this reminder!

I was pleased by the comments about my energy level being high, although even that was not universally acclaimed. One student declared candidly, "Madame, you're much too hyper." And, although many gave me high marks for patience, there were several who had remarks that were similar to the student who admonished, "We are still learning French, so calm down a little bit."

Do I have to show all of these report cards to my mother? One student left me a signature line for that purpose!

Being introspective, as I've tried to model, is an important part of the learning process. My students' comments and feedback should help me get from third base to home plate.


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April 2004

Dear Diary,

This experienced teacher is recognizing the clear signs that it is time for spring break!

Instead of bolting out of bed at 5:15 am, eager to take on American youth and subtly convince them that mastering French will enhance their lives immeasurably, I hear myself talking back to my alarm clock - in French, Spanish or languages that I've scarcely studied!

I notice that my tired winter wardrobe has accumulated a layer of chalk dust so that everything has a lighter hue than several months ago. Is my brain covered by this same film?! How else can I interpret my experience last week when, more than ten minutes into the class period, I realized that I had begun the French 3 lesson with my French 2 students? Interestingly, no one seemed to notice!

Although the students may not be aware of it, the pace is in fact accelerating. Can I make them think that we have so much to accomplish there might not even be time for spring break?! Not likely, but with some "pop quizzes" and spontaneous orals, I'm at least getting myself psyched to work every second 'til that final bell Friday marking the beginning of . . . v a c a t i o n! Sometimes I think I'm the only one taking the whole school scene seriously!

Perhaps it is another indication that it is time for spring break when I wonder if I look as drained as the colleagues sitting around me at the lunch table!

WHY is teaching such an all-consuming profession? Is every teacher counting down the minutes 'til break time along with the kids? What is making this increasingly exhausting? I tried, in vain, to explain this phenomenon to a neighbor. Even though she has a demanding job, I don't think she can understand the degree to which teaching is almost a 24/7 job, one with very high stakes and one, which, at least for me, gets more intense with each passing year.

I continue to be almost obsessed with students who are just not making it for a whole variety of reasons. Many do not accept responsibility or take school work seriously.

What do I really want students to know, how am I going to assess that they have acquired this knowledge AND what am I going to do about it when they are NOT being successful? This last question is particularly challenging. Plan…fine tune…plan more. The brain needs a rest!

I will put everything aside for a while. A few days of prescribed R&R. Then I will focus on drawing strength from recent successes, and think about ways to follow-up on what HAS BEEN going well:

Working with parents as a critical part of the learning team and helping them find ways to encourage their young adults to be more responsible learners: I have tried to target certain students and stay in as close contact with their parents (via phone, e-mail, frequently updated grade reports) as time permits.

Entering students in contests: Some foreign language competitions (classroom, county and national levels) over the past few months have reminded me about how healthy competition does motivate in terms of providing goals as well as intrinsic and external rewards. I am gratified to see a dramatic difference in students whom I had asked to participate in various competitive opportunities. Some are students who I want to inspire to stay at the top of their game. In the case of others, I hope to draw out their potential.

Incorporating more role-plays in class activities: This has afforded me the ability to differentiate instruction in large, very diverse classes. After providing students with language "tools" (structures and vocabulary), they have opportunities to create with the language, incorporate culture and add drama in the presentation of both scripted and spontaneous skits. Drama and humor are encouraged. One role-play this week was between a student who arrived late to class and an irate teacher who bore an uncanny resemblance to me! More proficient students can elaborate and aim for a higher level of language sophistication. Even by doing the minimum task required, students are on their way towards internalizing vocabulary and structures by learning to use them in context and more reserved students can hide behind another identity in these kinds of interactions.

Enticing students to stay after class and trying to develop a rapport with them individually: I am constantly looking for hooks to get students excited and find out about their interests and talents. It is a perpetual treasure hunt.

I know there is nothing new in these strategies, but they can always be recycled and fine-tuned to be more effective. At this point, I know that the best antidote for feeling like I'll never stay on top of everything is…spring break!!!


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March 2004

Dear Diary,

Deviation doesn't mean disaster! Incidents this past month convinced me of the benefits of flexibility and spontaneity.

I'm an experienced teacher. I pride myself on planning meticulously, usually over-planning JUST IN CASE! On at least three recent occasions, my prepared lessons took a totally different turn and, as I take some time to reflect, I have to admit to myself that the outcomes might have even be better than had I followed exactly my original blueprint.

In the first instance, an administrator was observing one of my French 2 classes as part of the teacher evaluation process. It was a pre-announced visit for which I had, of course, planned carefully. Knowing that this administrator always looks for the incorporation of technology and the inclusion of activities to meet the needs of every learning style, I was set to use every machine available in the building for an average of seven and one half minutes each! We were going to be working on situating things in relation to other things. Students would ultimately be able to give a detailed description of their school. This class of mostly freshman being (typically?) unpredictable, I had my back-up "routines" lined up as well.

Circumstances that day quickly eliminated Plan A and then Plan B, and even Plan C! Our school is in the throes of renovation. The construction workers, with their own clear goals and objectives, were forging ahead unaware of what was going on in the classroom directly inside. My creative warm-up activity (Actively engage students right from the start of class) was interrupted a few times by raps on the window and requests for me to alternately plug in and remove an electric cord. "Sustaining momentum despite interruptions" is a criterion for evaluation and this was definitely putting my skills to the test! I might have guessed that this was a preview of further challenges: An early activity involved listening to a recording (French students describing their houses) was next. Introduce authentic culture. Integrate technology. As the students were straining to derive enough meaning to be able to answer some basic comprehension questions, the construction workers began to drill! Even full volume on the CD player was clearly not going to work.

I switched to the next activity, a Power Point with some pictures and floor plans of typical houses and apartments in Canada and France for us to describe. Provide for the visual learners. Score another check mark for the integration of technology. I tried not to show that I was getting flustered, but probably was not successful at doing so when… the power totally went out!!!!!! The drilling had stopped but now we were without any electricity on a particularly dark, cold day. This was the last period and clearly school was not going to be dismissed early. I had over one half hour remaining and this situation was not in my back-up thinking. The old line from Saturday Night Live, "talk amongst yourselves" kept coming to mind. Very aware that I was still being observed (albeit in the dark!), I quickly formulated a version of that theme and prayed it would somehow meet the lesson objectives. I divided the class into four groups, appointed leaders and asked each group to agree on 5 features of their ideal high school. They then had to come up (only verbally, given the situation) with instructions they would give the workers outside (the very ones who were having such an impact on this lesson!!) about how to redesign the building, incorporating the five features. They needed to use the vocabulary for parts of the school which we had reviewed several weeks before as well as the directional structures we were working on. Each group had to report back to the class after a prescribed period of time. This was followed by some related class discussion. I think we all forgot there was an observer and the degree to which the kids became engaged gave me pause for thought.

About a week later, I was rather distracted when I faced my early morning French 3 class. I had just discovered that a family of mice was escaping the frigid temperatures by camping out in our house. My husband was, naturally, away on a business trip! As we were going over some homework exercises, I continued to think about the unfortunate situation at home. Before the next phase of the lesson, I decided to tell the class about my new houseguests. Even mice would be a welcome brief diversion from the "if" clauses we had been working on! To my amazement, numerous students had experience with these intruders. Even the quietest among them were piping in with accounts of how and where they discovered the mice. Was I actually hearing the passé composé used fairly accurately??? One thing led to another and the kids were offering me solutions and…this was truly the best part…they were coming up with "if" clauses on their own, "Madame, if you get a cat, it will eat the mice;" "Madame, if you buy traps, be sure…"

And earlier this week, as the students were writing about some of the things we had learned about Belgium, one especially shy student called me over. A very hesitant speaker, he somehow managed to communicate to me that since we had talked about Belgian waffles, he thought it would be nice to eat some in class. He told me that his grandparents had a waffle machine which they would let us borrow. I told Aaron that I would give him a few minutes of class time the next day to explain his idea to the class and organize the petite fête with his classmates. To be honest, I was reasonably certain the idea would go no further. I was completely surprised when Aaron greeted me at the door the following day, chart in hand. Clearly, he had looked up the necessary vocabulary and was ready to follow through. I almost wish someone had videotaped him (and me!) during the next several minutes as this really quiet young man essentially took over. His French was far from perfect, but apparently the motivation was sufficient and Aaron and the other students decided entirely in the target language who would bring what to prepare and top the gaufres belges next week!

Sometimes lessons which take totally unpredicted turns provide extraordinary instructional situations. The lessons (and detours!) I described served as a reminder to me to, as many of my students might say, "chill" more often.


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February 2004

Dear Diary,

What keeps me in this profession? A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by a young college student I know. Linda is trying to learn more about the teaching profession and determine whether this is a suitable career choice for her. While she would be interested in elementary education, Linda was hoping I could provide broad insights as to the nature of teaching that would help guide her. Linda lent me the tape of our interview and when I replayed it, I realized that my spontaneous answers added up to a response to the question of why I have continued to love teaching. Perhaps the fact that I was listening to the tape around the time of the holiday season had something to do with my awareness that my part of the interview was in a sense my own counting of professional blessings!

We talked about the opportunities a teacher has to make a difference in a young person's life. I told Linda that sometimes a teacher just senses that he/she is having an impact, but occasionally one has the almost indescribable experience of seeing the proof first-hand. I am sure that when she talks to other teachers, she will discover that each one can share accounts, but I shared a few examples that occurred to me during our conversation:

I told her about a few of the students that remind me of the rewards of teaching: There was Paul, who got really interested in cooking as a result of a group project on French cuisine. He is now working as a sous-chef in a French restaurant and brings me treats from time to time! Another student's e-mail exchange with a young French student evolved into an in-person exchange with visits in France and the United States. My student recently stopped back to see me just before taking off on military duty. Because of his language proficiency, he was going to be working translating documents. I told Linda about a particularly shy student that was waiting at my door several weeks ago to let me know that later that day she and her father were going to the passport office. She had convinced her father to take her to France during spring break. Her excitement and commitment to improve her speaking skills in anticipation of this trip have been remarkable. I also mentioned to Linda that not too long ago a woman approached me at a conference. She was another quiet student in class and decided to major in French, pursued her studies, became a professor of French and was actually one of the featured speakers at the conference.

Some of the adjectives that I used in describing my view of teaching revealed my view of the unique nature of the job: Dynamic. Unpredictable. Highly Challenging. Even though much that occurs within and beyond the classroom walls might be outside of the realm of a teacher's control, so much is. Every once in a while, I shared with Linda, I try to step back and ENJOY witnessing the learning process! Watching the students when they are totally engaged in a partner or small group activity and realizing that the high noise level is derived from the students truly communicating in the foreign language is a fantastic high for this teacher! I experienced this same high the other day when a bad cough had me watching from the hall, bottle of water in hand, while students took over segments of the lesson.

Collegial relationships, particularly the professional sharing among department members are a major part of job fulfillment, in my opinion. The teachers that I have observed in action exhibit a level of dedication and talent that personally inspires me. The workshops and conferences that teachers attend provide ongoing opportunities to learn and expand the repertoire.

What other profession affords a chance to begin anew each new quarter, new semester and school year? There are built in opportunities to take stock, to fine tune, to grow.

As I write this...with the good chance of a snow day tomorrow... I appreciate the chance to ponder more benefits of this profession!


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December 2003

Dear Diary,

"All students can be successful foreign language learners." This is an underlying premise of the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century. It sounds like a most worthy goal. Besides, how could a foreign language teacher not espouse this concept? In fact, during the recent years I was away from the classroom and still trying to keep up with the professional literature, I was becoming more and more of a believer in the idea of successful course outcomes for each and every student who embarks on foreign language studies.

Reality shows are not just for TV audiences. Now back in the classroom, there are days when I feel like I am part of an episode of Foreign Language Class Survivor and I am desperately trying to keep my charges on the island of success! While I don't have to get them to swallow strange living creatures whole - not even escargots in delicious garlic sauce! - I do have to accommodate my lessons to help more of my students feel accomplished. This is proving to be more of a daunting task than I ever considered during the interval when I was just contemplating a return to the foreign language teacher classroom.

I am spending more time than ever before designing standards-based lessons, finding implementing these lessons exhausting, and, on occasion, feeling more frustrated than ever as I assess learning. Why??? I am not one to abandon the island and my fellow foreign language teachers, and I love the profession far too much to contemplate that, but I wonder whether I have changed or the students have changed? During the rare moments I have had to reflect, I draw the conclusion that I have changed.

I have become more of a teacher-researcher who is forcing herself to look honestly at results. I am no longer satisfied with merely satisfied "clients." I constantly want to put my students in a position where they can demonstrate what they can do and know, and assess their progress as objectively as possible. When my students can't produce the expected level of oral or written spontaneous language, I am looking at my instructional practices and holding myself accountable to a higher level than before. I have definitely become a tougher judge on myself.

The students have, of course, changed as well as compared with my recollection of my past years in the classroom. In a typical level 2 or 3 class, I have "gifted" foreign language students and students who have been in an immersion environment since the early years of elementary school. Added to that mix are students with acute needs, that is with a range of processing, visual, hearing or emotional challenges. In one class, I am required to provide "preferential seating" for approximately one third of the students. My confidential file of Individual Educational Programs does not even include the growing number of students for whom English is the second or third language or who are facing an array of issues relating to their family situation.

I know I am supposed to and desperately want to differentiate instruction. Not only is it a mandate that I accommodate instruction to reflect my students' needs, it is absolutely imperative if "all students can be successful foreign language learners" and I meet my very own criteria for being a "master" teacher. If an experienced teacher is finding this daunting, I know novice colleagues need more than my compassion!

What I am learning on the spot so far with my new collection of "guinea pigs" for the time being I can only express with some bulleted thoughts rather than well-articulated proven results. I am also aware that these strategies are not original, but, out of necessity, they are increasingly becoming part of my teaching repertoire.

  • My students need to be in on the experiment. I am trying to involve them in the process of reflecting on what they have learned and what is interfering with their own mastery. Frequently, I ask them to produce a quick "ticket out" activity (at the conclusion of class) in which they incorporate something we've just practiced and in which they often have to explain a concept in their own words. Using that input to inform the next step in the lesson unit gives me a more complete picture of which strategies are working and where there are gaps that I must address.
  • The notion of spiraling instruction really does make sense in the real world of foreign language learning. Continually coming back to and building on previously "covered" material in a great variety of ways helps me to feel that there is momentum and yet those students who may not have mastered a segment of learning will have numerous opportunities to acquire skills.
  • Asking the "gifted" and immersion students to play a more active role in identifying their own goals and areas for improvement is something I am doing with more regularity. Providing activities that will give these students, as well as their peers, an opportunity to challenge themselves and express creativity and individual interests has definitely become part of my planning.
  • Developing a one on one personal rapport probably means more than any other sophisticated strategy. Finding a way to connect to students' interests and strengths and making them feel that you will work with them to explore ways to be successful, that you will not give up on them makes all the difference. I am finding that this is especially true with written work. Using written assignments as a vehicle for communicating positive feedback (with a small suggestion slipped in) is producing far more substantial results in getting my "special needs" students to take risks with the language than returning their papers with every correction meticulously made.

Finding ways to help students feel successful by virtue of achieving high but realistic and fair expectations will continue to be an ongoing goal of mine throughout this year. Hopefully, we will all become much more than Survivors!


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November 2003

Dear Diary,

Motivation. Student motivation. As I reflect on these first few weeks back in the trenches, many of my thoughts relate to something rather intangible, but definitely indispensable. To what extent can I create and sustain a desire for my students to want to learn?

The challenge inherent in this question was perhaps what an administrator was touching on many years ago when he asked me during an interview, "Do you see yourself teaching French to high school kids, or high school kids French? To be honest, at the time, I thought the question - asking whether course content or the student was more important - rather inane. Perhaps because I have now returned to the classroom, the issue seems fresh and relevant.

Students are coming with more external incentives to be successful. Some have admitted to me that good grades convert to freedom over the weekend, cash, trips, even a new sports car. Probably others will face punishment for a grade that does not meet parental expectations. That the stakes are high for many was evident to me when I returned the first sets of papers to my students (quizzes on class procedures, spelling, various review items). On those occasions, the grade - how it was calculated, how much the quiz would count, etc. overshadowed everything. Even after only a few assessments this early in the quarter, I have already seen elation and frustration on the faces of my charges.

I'm not so naïve as to think that what worked as far as motivation years ago in my mother's first grade class could ever apply to sophisticated, savvy teenagers of today. I will never forget observing my mother's class and seeing the children volunteer with phenomenal energy throughout the lesson. The incentive for active participation and effort? ...more homework!!!! That system may not have lasted beyond that year, but it really left an impression on this future teacher.

My own students were quite motivated...the first day of the year! Or, maybe extremely curious more accurately describes their state of mind on a day in which judgments were being made on both sides of the desk. What was their new teacher going to be like? Was it going to be a comfortable environment? What was going to be expected of them? Was I "hard?", "easy?" Of course, while being keenly aware of their close scrutiny I was forming my own first impressions. Mostly, I was panicked about really getting to know 150 students as individuals, a necessity as far as I am concerned.

After two weeks, I feel as determined as ever to tap into my students' reservoir of internal motivation. I feel encouraged by some early signals the students are sending me: When the "défense de parler anglais" (No English Allowed) sign is up in the room, many students are really trying to communicate in French - or at least are gesturing or keeping silent! Although I tried to motivate by explaining why it is so vital to stay in the target language, there were moments when I felt like the meanest gendarme and even had to deal with the situation when the sign was surreptitiously flipped to the "OK, now let's speak English" side when I was working with a small group of students. As a new teacher in the school, I know I face the challenge of setting the bar and being uncompromising about the language expectation. How long will it take to get all my students to want to "buy in" and speak all French for reasons other than grades?

During this back-to-school phase, there were several other hints of internal motivation ready to be drawn out...the student who knew esoteric facts about truffles and earned admiration of classmates, the students who led teams to victory on a class "Course au Trésors" (treasure hunt) competition, the students whose listening skills were sharp enough to figure out the words of a French song, the French 3 students who were able to communicate successfully with the class about an artifact that was particularly special to them. Getting to know each other better, including our interests outside of school, will hopefully create an environment that encourages the motivation to take risks.

In truth, despite the inevitable exhaustion of the beginning of the school year, there were enough signs of student internal motivation to revitalize my own motivation about teaching high school students French!


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September 2003

Dear Diary,

THE RECURRING DREAM!! Would it return the night before the first day of school? The dream where I come bounding into my classroom with resounding words of welcome: "Bonjour!" "Soyez la bienvenue!" only to discover to my horror that I have no clothes on or (equally dreadful thought) that I have no lesson plan! Recently, I had enough courage to share this nightmare with a group of colleagues and was amazed to learn that similar dreams have haunted them at this time of year. Not a difficult dream to interpret, of course. One that reflects the enthusiasm that many teachers feel at the opening of school, but also the apprehension and the vulnerability.

I am now in countdown mode. First day for students minus 181 hours. It has been several years since I've taught, having taken time off to be with my children. Last night I had perhaps a variant of the dream. I had packed for an exciting trip (although I cannot recall the exact destination) and set forth, only to become hopelessly lost. Are the jitters re-emerging in my sleep?

My (awake) feelings as I prepare for my re-entry into this noblest of professions? Idealism, especially as I contemplate the words opposite me, inscribed on a plaque that was given to me by a former student: "To teach is to touch a life forever." In fact, my own high school French teacher was my inspiration. This year, I have high expectations for myself. Unlike many other professionals, teachers have a chance to re-create themselves every year. I have had time during this period away from the classroom to think about my role as teacher. As an experienced teacher, I face the challenge of keeping instruction as dynamic as possible. I will strive to build in time to reflect on my teaching on an ongoing basis.

I know I will be seeking more effective ways to engage all students in the learning process. I want my lessons to reflect the Foreign Language standards in a much more comprehensive way than before this "hiatus." I am going to a different school and will need to get to know that community and develop a rapport with new colleagues. I hope that I can play a role in having individuals outside the department view foreign language learning as just as important as any other discipline. I am giving myself the additional challenge of being more successful in balancing my life. How well I remember that teaching can consume every waking (and non-waking!) moment.

Right now, I am focusing on preparing for that first day - setting the tone, creating enthusiasm for learning, relieving the students' anxiety (quite possibly they have recurring dreams about this day too), letting them know what to expect and whetting their appetites for an exciting year.

As I contemplate the beginning of another school year, I am awed by this opportunity for a new beginning. I am filled with doubts, but one thing I do know is that I will check that I am fully attired before leaving the house!


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