Language Sensei

A Language Teacher's Journey

It’s Not Where You’re At – It’s Where You’re Headed


MP900438811It was a great #langchat tonight. A really lively talk about advocating for the communicative approach in your teaching area. Teachers were great in sharing common objections, ways to lead and why they believe so passionately in how they teach. Sometimes the ideas, the teacher leaders, the things we’re not doing (and everyone else seems to be) can be overwhelming.

I remember when I first started teaching – almost 20 years ago – and a comment made to an administrator. “If I could just get this textbook program…I’d be set.” Wow – it kind of goes along with one of my tweets tonight – “I thought if I got good binders all organized by unit…I’d be done.”. It’s how I used to look at language teaching. It’s how many still do. I was fine in my classroom – it was going great – but then..something happened.

I joined Twitter, found the #langchat PLN – and holy cow – that ruined it for me. Well, not ‘ruined’ like disaster but ‘ruined’ as in “Nope – having a binder for Gr 11 Japanese full of worksheets and lesson plans so that you never have to revisit it again  and you’re finished – not going to be like that” kind of ruined. Suddenly I was the one not satisfied with how my program was running and, more importantly, how and what my students were learning. To me it seemed like there needed to be a different way – a way beyond a textbook and workbook. But how…

At times the #langchat PLN is intimidating and I think “Whoa – these people are so ahead of where I am I’ll never get there.” Sarah Bolaños (@mrsbolanos) really said it well tonight:I love/hate the fact that I’ve been teaching 10 years and it sometimes still feels like my 1st #langchat so many new ideas!” It speaks to that sinking feeling that it isn’t ‘done’, our tinkering, revamping and just plain throwing out what doesn’t work will never be done.  And that can be as exhilarating as it is exhausting at times.

So if you are feeling like that…as if the place you are now is so not where everyone else contributing to #langchat is I say – wrong! #langchat is teachers – from every area of the continent (and beyond), in every kind of classroom and situation, each facing their own struggles, challenges and circumstances. Good teaching is like travelling down a road…we’re all on it and all at different places. No one person is ever at the end and I, for one, am grateful to those just ahead of me – they shine the light, blaze the trail and motion me to keep going. #langchat is what it is because we all, all contributors, lurkers, posters and leaders, play a role in this amazingly organic and rich PLN. Keep on…and know that there are as many ahead lighting the way as walking in step with where you are right now!


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