There is an ancient proverb that says, “ Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man how to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime.” The meaning behind this proverb is something that I have in mind every day as I plan for my classroom. The goal in class is to give the tools and knowledge necessary so that students can go into the world and “fish” not simply “be fed” for a day. The tools used in my classroom to reach my goal of language knowledge are communicative standards based upon Multiliteracies and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL).
I strive for students to gain the proficiency level required through interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational forms of communication. Using these forms of communication, the students will learn to find multiple meaning and gain a deeper understanding of the language. By doing so, I solidify and implement different theories and pedagogies such as Genre Theory, Pace model, and Zone of Proximal Development to accomplish the level of knowledge the students strive for. Using the theory of Learning by Design will aid me in achieving Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) in the tasks that my students are doing. The ACTFL proficiency level standards will guide my classroom in the development of the language, so that the students can be ready to move to the next level at the proficiency that is needed . The ZPD will close the gap that students may have between the language and their knowledge. Through the study of language in the classroom, students will be prepared to communicate in the real world and establish relationships that will be meaningful to their careers.
The way I accomplish this readiness is based on applying guided discovery in the concepts taught. Students experience the known to make a connection to Spanish; with something that they are exposed to within their community. By doing so, students are able to experience the new in the target language. From there on my students take off conceptualizing, applying, and analyzing the language and connecting it with their personal lives. For the class to be fully successful, I implement the Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) as a way for my students to learn the language in a social context and not based upon rules of grammar that will not fully aid them when needed to communicate in the target language. As an applied linguist, with focus on second language acquisition, pedagogy, and teacher education, I see SFL as a prime way to guide my classroom into success.
At the same time, making a connection with the students is important to my success. Students need to be able to understand the direction I’m taking the classroom and be motivated by knowing that language is something they can successfully master. The integrity of the class is based upon the character that I lead my teaching, so that my students can see how gaining knowledge in the language will motivate them to accomplish goals higher than they ever believed. This can be seen by the expressions and comments they make in regards to the knowledge and fluency they have acquire through the implementations of these pedagogies and theories establish in my classroom.
I believe in what my mother once told me, “You can make a great teacher, but you can’t make a great person.” From these words I developed three steps that I uphold in my life to keep a humble heart and a mindful classroom. First, always remember where you were because if you do, you will appreciate the small things that life has given you right where you are. In my classroom, knowing the level each student is and praising their accomplishments as he/she has made progress in the language, may seem small for others but huge for them. Second, bring the experiences in which you have grown to the present. As my class recognizes their mastery, we can transition to a new objective that will get them closer to the proficiency that each need to be in. Lastly, project yourself to the future. Have a solid idea of what you want from the language and put all effort on achieving it. I know that at the end of the course, my students will remember where they were, bring their achievements to the present, and project to a future in which Spanish will help accomplish their goals.