01 December 2017

Other Teachers Need Us Too

I wasn't laughing at her conjugation.

One student in the audience was giving the students presenting a hard time, asking why anyone would want to buy their product if it was so cheap and easy to make. But my history teacher amiga came to their rescue--in Spanish!






 Homegirl whipped out a Novice High sentence in the heat of the moment AND called out the dominant culture without missing a beat! Guys, my little language teacher heart just spilled all over the place in that moment.

Not 5 minutes later, my biology amiga called out another group (albeit in English) for including a plan to air their English ad in the U.S. and their Spanish ad in Latin America:

Guys, this is the same teacher who estimated that 40% of our students would actually use Spanish after they graduated. When I informally polled her and my English teacher amiga last year, they weren't trying to hurt my feelings, or suggest that language learning was any less relevant than, say, British literature. They were simply speaking from their own experience in the community where they lived and I didn't (YET! My kids start school in my district when we come back from break!)

Now I have pooh-poohed presidents and principals who preach numbers to justify language learning in the past, and to be honest, I'm still a little disappointed that Obama remains monolingual despite lip service for language learning. And I'm often guilty of holding adults to a higher standard than teenagers, despite intellectually understanding that they could as easily lack the emotional and academic training that teenagers to too. But colleagues and administrators need and deserve the same assurances as our students. They need to believe in the why and the how, but they also need to know and trust that YES YOU CAN.

Now Sra. Miller is a special teacher in so many ways more than her fearless Novice-to-Intermediate outbursts over the walkie talkie ("¿Qué es mascota?" when reviewing some of the product pitch categories before I got there is a personal favorite). She saw the relevance of the high school Spanish she forgot when she needed to get a student to "escribir cinco cosas" and then was off and running. And Sra. Dixon is an astounding human being and giver who, day 2 of product pitches, dared to help me count down in Spanish to get the class quiet. I mean, it´s Novice Low production, but she is modeling putting herself out there and taking that risk!

Even when my almost-German-major English teacher amigo was helping Miller and me split up the product pitch topics and said tecnología without pausing to translate, that was PROOF.

It was proof that Spanish is not only something they can use in their own lives, but that, yes, they really can use it! They don´t have to spend their waking hours not grading on Duolingo. They don´t have to travel the world (unless they want to!)

They can participate in the students´ language learning. They can understand the parents who need a little help in conferences.

And they can stroll into my Spanish-strewn room, just like our newest Earth Science teacher, and say, "I was thinking..." when after all of the hurricanes and earthquakes and floods and disaster they see a chance to make their classes more relevant with Spanish.

But sometimes they need our help seeing the why and how, and they deserve our support--and celebration--when they show us AND themselves: you can too.

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