According to Snowman et al. (2009) reflective teachers set aside time to think about what they do in class, why they do it, and how their methods affect student performance (p. 17). I believe in the process of reflective practice and professional renewal. I often reflect on events that occur throughout my teaching day with my husband, who is also an educator. These informal discussions allow me to think about my performance in the classroom and consider other options. There are two other Spanish teachers in my department who I routinely meet with to discuss teaching techniques; plus, there are five more language teachers in our department who teach Chinese, Korean, and French. Friend and Cook (2007) state having a mutual goal is an essential element of every team definition across various disciplines (p. 63). We are continually borrowing and sharing ideas about language instruction to reach our shared goal of improving student language learning. In addition to these conversations, I review my lessons and adapt them to my current students' strengths and weaknesses. Finally, our entire school goes through the accreditation process with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The process encourages us to look at our curriculum and our teaching with a critical eye every three years.
Before I moved to Korea, I lived on the island of Saipan for four years, which is where I began my teaching career. Without a background in educational theory or practice, I was looking for help from fellow teachers. My husband and I took a Master's of Education degree program from Framingham State College. The program opened my eyes to the possibilities of professional and personal development and it has become a passion of mine. Spanish is my third language and therefore I feel the need to practice every year to brush off the dust. For the last three summers, I have traveled to Spanish speaking countries such as Spain, Mexico and Peru in order to continue my Spanish language development. This summer I will be spending 2 weeks in Oaxaca, Mexico with a Mexican family to practice Spanish and a couple days in Cuba to experience Cuban culture. My students are aware of my travels and studies through class discussions and presentations I make about my trips. This promotes the idea that learning is an ongoing part of a person's life and not something that ends once you earn a diploma or degree. I consider Spanish teaching my career and I invest in myself by actively practicing language learning.
The school I am currently working is a big school with over 130 teachers. Every year our school offers workshops on new teaching strategies which in my classroom. I have offered workshops on language teaching techniques and computer software that I have used with my students at KIS. These workshops allow us to build a learning network within our community. Beyond our local networking, I am a part of the International School Teacher group in Facebook, where new ideas are shared about teaching and learning. This year for the first time, I presented how to use Comic Life in the Classroom at the regional Korea Council of Overseas Schools (KORCOS) conference where I met many valuable teachers, thorough job alike and professional development sessions.
A video for all teachers to watch