The unexpected benefits of distance learning

By Alexis Buschert
@SrtaBuschert

We all know the challenges that we faced (and often overcame) with distance learning last spring.  Our social media accounts are full of memes and articles about all of the problems and struggles that we had. 

But I have yet to read an article or blog celebrating some of the unexpected benefits that came along with distance learning!  There were some aspects of distance learning that I LOVED even as a public high school teacher with a huge caseload of students.  I experimented with different techniques and technologies and I learned some valuable lessons along the way that will help me be a better teacher in the future.

Here are some of the successes that I had or helpful lessons that I learned during my time as an online Spanish teacher during the spring of 2020:

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5 ways to kick off a non-traditional school year

By Elena Spathis
@ElenaSpathis

As we all anxiously await our schools’ reopening plans, much remains unknown. A series of potential scenarios could take place with short notice. While our schools may adopt hybrid schedules that combine an in-person format with a virtual one, we should be ready to transition to full-time virtual teaching at any given moment. It goes without saying that this has been an alarmingly stressful time for us as teachers, as well as for our students and their families.

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Ideas for free summer PD

By Alma Rivera
@proferiveraac

If you are like me, it takes at least a month to get into the non-teaching frame of mind at the end of the school year. We go from a hectic state of mind to a state of calm. With that comes that uneasy feeling that something remains undone. Have you ever woken up, during the summer, and freaked out that you didn’t get something graded, planned, or created for your classes?  I’m sure we have all had that uneasy feeling. Yet, we eventually get into another routine: one of summer. Less hectic, more reflective and family focused. During these down times, there is a lot of professional development available. After all, aren’t teachers continuous learners? Here are some ideas for summer professional development that are easy, free, and can be done from anywhere.

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Lessons learned from implementing a proficiency-based language program

By Elena Giudice and Holly Morse  

Developing an oral proficiency program is not easy. My former colleague, Holly Morse and I submitted a proposal on this topic for ACTFL 2019 as we felt we had a lot to share on how we led various departments in shifting to oral proficiency-based programs. Our goal was to keep it real, no sugar coating. We wanted to share the growing pains and joys we went through and help others avoid unnecessary difficulties. Here are some of the key takeaways we shared during our ACTFL presentation: 

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Decluttering your curriculum

By Jennifer Carson
Curriculum Coordinator

Last semester’s transition to virtual teaching was abrupt and left many of us feeling like we were catching up to learn new technologies instead of focusing on communicating content to students. Now, as we look forward to next year, which appears to be an amorphous hybrid of virtual and limited face-to-face instruction, our worries turn to what students missed this past semester and how we can catch them up. Part I of this series focused on decluttering the mind, which is the necessary first step. With a mind freed from constraints, you can now turn your focus to decluttering another messy place, your curriculum.

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Decluttering your mind

By Michelle Olah
Instructional Strategist

The 2019-2020 school year is in the books. It was unprecedented to be sure! It’s time to let go of 2019-2020 and take some time to relax and practice self-care, before starting to think about and plan for next school year. Unfortunately, right now there are still more questions than answers about what the 2020-2021 school year might look like. One thing is for sure, no matter what our classrooms and schools look like next fall, there are going to be challenges that all teachers will have to address, such as curriculum planning.

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Poolside Proficiency is back!

Join us for our free summer webinar series!

Wayside’s Poolside Proficiency summer webinar series is back! Join us for three sessions starting July 9 as part of your summer professional development plans! You do not have to be using a Wayside language program to get valuable insights into planning for the upcoming school year. 

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We will never be the same educators (hopefully)

By Diego Ojeda
www.srojeda.com
@DiegoOjeda66

Although it has not been easy for anyone to endure the months under COVID-19, it’s been especially difficult for all those involved in education. Students, teachers, and administrators have found themselves facing an unknown, unexpected, and uncertain reality.

As we try to close the school year in the best possible way, we begin to think about the challenges and uncertainties that lie ahead as we think of returning to school this fall, and about how we build up from this experience of almost three months of distance education.  We find hypothetical solutions that allow us to have peace of mind during the summer feeling that we are prepared to assume a hybrid virtual and in-person teaching experience.

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Putting trust into action

by Elena Giudice
@SraGiudice

We as teachers act as anchors for trust in our schools. Administrators trust us to do our jobs, parents trust their children to us, and students come to us because they trust us. In the world language classroom, we need to work even harder to build that trust with our students if indeed we want them to be engaged where it matters most, orally.

But we cannot talk about trust without discussing risk-taking! I know I am a bit biased, but I can’t think of a class where there is more risk-taking involved than in languages. Students risk making mistakes each time they offer answers. Mistakes in grammar, choice of word, pronunciation, stress, or tone. No wonder students withdraw from participating. I’m always left thinking about those “passive” students.  Are they bored? Tired? Confused? Unmotivated? Introverts? What if they are just afraid to take risks? To take risks you simply must trust.

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