There are so many puzzle pieces that encompass the education picture. When we think about education, we rightly think of teachers and principals, but there are so many other important positions available to people.
Counselors advise our students and provide essential emotional and academic support. Athletic directors schedule multiple teams, practice spaces, and games while keeping student athletes safe. Curriculum directors need to be good at research and be able to make tough decisions as they decide whether programs are worth the price and if they’re pedagogically sound. Department heads provide guidance and leadership to teachers while teaching their own students.
I always thought that I’d be a classroom teacher my entire life, and while that’s still a possibility, I am beginning to open my eyes to other avenues to help students. I admit I’m extremely intrigued by “instructional coach”. An instructional coach is a teacher who helps other teachers implement new strategies, problem solve, and improve learning in the classroom. I love being challenged and creative problem solving. My passion for pedagogy drives me to learn as much as possible in order to be a more effective teacher.
The first topic I plan to dive deep into is podcasting. I teach middle school Speech and Drama and as I was thinking about what exactly I wanted my students to know after leaving my class, I realized that much of my current curriculum echos what they already do in English Language Arts. So, I began to look into something unique and practical for my students. That’s when I thought about podcasting; one of the biggest growing industries in public speaking.
I love podcasts. I listen to several during my commute to work, while doing laundry or dishes, and even in the evening when I’m relaxing. They are entertaining, insightful, and educational. There are so many podcasts that there’s something for everyone and you can carefully curate your playlist to your specific interests.
According to National Public Radio (NPR), many teachers are incorporating podcasting into their instructional practice in place of traditional research papers. The podcast allows students a bit more creative freedom while engaging with the material. In fact, NPR has posted “Teaching Podcasting: A Curriculum Guide for Educators” to help teachers and students get started. I am extremely excited to explore this further with my students. If all goes well, I would love to share my experiences with other teachers in my district and help them bring podcasts into their classrooms too.
WORLD LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION
In my Spanish classroom, I am planning on researching and implementing more Spanish immersion in the classroom and providing more authentic experiences than ones offered in the textbook.
In order to do this, I need to look further into resources collected and provided by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and perhaps attend one of their many conferences for language teachers. There are so many improvements in foreign language instruction and I am eager to learn more.
A great jumping off point forms a wonderful marriage with my podcast passion. Jennifer Gonzalez’s podcast, Cult of Pedagogy, did a great episode called How World Language Teaching Has Evolved. In it, she interviews Rebecca Blouwolff, a French teacher, about the changes in world language instruction. Listening to that episode completely opened my eyes to these brand new ideas.
The best classroom problems are the ones you can prevent. Of course, you cannot predict or prevent all distractions, but there are ways to minimize disruptive classroom behavior. I work hard to make my classroom a safe space for students. It’s where students come to eat a quiet lunch, ask for help in other classes, and just talk. I balance flexibility with consistency in order to address my students’ needs. When I think about my classroom management, I think of Maya Angelou who said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This sentiment is one that I’d like to share with other educators.
There are so many different avenues to explore in education and it’s so exciting to be able to learn about what the smartest teachers are doing in their classroom. It seems selfish to keep these gems to myself, which is why I think being an instructional coach would be the perfect path for me if I ever have the opportunity.
One thing is for sure; I will always be learning.