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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Relationships Are More Important Than Being Right

Lately, I've read in Twitter passionate discussions of #authres versus teacher made materials for students. I perceive that some teachers' feelings have been hurt by the notion that the call for 100% #authres leaves non-native teachers out. I have been out of the loop for a few weeks due to my oldest child being injured in a car accident, so I have missed the actual discussions/tweets about the issue.

This blog is about relationships in our World Language teaching community. In previous leadership positions, I have witnessed teachers come to a standstill over instructional issues that were dividing them bitterly. The positive side of this argument is that many of us, WL teachers, are passionate about what we believe. We have invested ourselves in learning about instructional strategies and we deeply care about teaching students. We think that our way is THE way to teach students successfully. The flip side about this passion is that in the process of protecting what we hold so dear and spreading its gospel, we are alienating others who don't feel that way. I promise you that I have no agenda and don't even know who said/tweeted what to whom. I just want to share what is in my heart.
 I am a passionate person, have a strong sense of values, often believe that my way is the best way, and I want to be right. But, being married for almost 25 years, having teenage children and in laws, being in leadership positions, and teaching high school students has taught me a valuable lesson:

As an extrovert with a big mouth, strong personality and impulsive tendencies, I have had to learn this lesson the hard way. I am still learning it every day in my relationships with my peers. But, the rewards that I have reaped in having positive relationships encourage me to continue aiming to look at arguments from a relationship filter. It saddens me when I see fractures in our World Language community over philosophical issues. Let's look at common ground in the goals that we want for our students and the advancement of World Languages in the USA. But HOW we get there is going to vary from person to person and we need to respect that fact. Leading by example is more important than making universal or dogmatic statements. I have learned so much from people who selflessly share what they are doing in their classrooms. Show me and then let me make my decisions about what I want or need to do with that information.

To my non-native peeps, you are invaluable to the sustainability of World Language programs in the United States. We simply could not have a World Language program in this country if it weren't for you. You bring something to the teaching of other languages that natives can't begin to comprehend. Many of you learned the second language as teenagers or young adults and have a compassion and understanding for how your students think, feel and learn that I don't have. You are some of the most creative and committed teachers in World Languages today. So, even in a fully #authres world, you bring an authenticity to the learning process that those of us who are natives don't have. Hold your heads high and keep up the great work that you do every day.

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