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example one  |  proficiency model of world language education

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard someone say, "Oh, I took Spanish in high school but I don't remember anything." This is the result of years of a very traditional model of language instruction: memorize a vocabulary list, memorize verb conjugations, plug and chug. As the years have gone on, best practices have changed. Instead of spending class periods doing grammar worksheets, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) now recommends that students interact with authentic resources (like infographics and newscasts) and complete oral interpersonal communicative tasks. 

In 2016, I saw the opportunity for our curriculum to change to align more closely with these updated best practices. I took the lead in researching this new model, sourcing rubrics from other schools and universities, and ultimately decided to forego my course's textbook and worked with one colleague to write an entire curriculum from scratch with these best practices at its core. I saw qualitative benefits throughout the year and got qualitative validation when the scores of my students in the year after the curricular shift were 16% higher than the year before on a standardized national exam.

Since this project, other members of my department have made the same changes in their courses. I have been a go-to person both for curriculum development support and encouragement during the often frustrating and humbling process of changing models. 

example two  |   social-emotional learning

As a high school teacher, I know that the most important lessons I teach have nothing to do with my content area. I have always been passionate about the social-emotional development of my students, but the impact of our current situation has made these needs more critical than ever before.

I collaborated with a colleague to create a presentation entitled Creating Courageous Classrooms focused on presenting research on social-emotional learning (SEL) and providing easy-to-implement strategies for teachers to consciously incorporate SEL in their classrooms. We were selected to present at state, regional, and national conferences to share this knowledge with other teachers.

I also serve as an SEL coach for my district and provide training to staff to put SEL at the forefront of our daily interactions with students. 

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