"Schools are like airport hubs; student passengers arrive from many different backgrounds.... Their particular takeoffs into adulthood will demand different flight patterns." - Dr. Mel Levine
Teaching and learning are very complex undertakings. In a perfect world, students would learn by being naturally exposed to that which they need and want to learn. In reality, we educators have to find authentic experiences or utilize the tools we have at hand to provide opportunities for students to interact with concepts and information, to practice skills, to problem-solve, and to develop curiosity towards knowledge. This will ultimately make them life-long learners; a fundamental skill in a fast and ever-changing world.
In the Spanish classroom, being a native Spanish speaker has allowed me to infuse many cultural traits that give my students an authentic language experience. However, knowing that I am native to only one of the many nations and regions where Spanish is spoken, gives me the responsibility to look for resources that represent a wider Spanish speaking population. With this purpose, I have collected and developed an ever-increasing array of authentic resources that represent the multicultural reality of the Spanish-speaking population of the world.
This Spanish-speaking population I am referring to, includes also my students. Since we learn language through contextualized usage, they are also producers of knowledge and have a voice and opinion in many multicultural issues. The students in my classroom create multimedia projects to demonstrate their learning; because they know that their audience is not limited to their professor or their immediate peers, they create high-quality materials that enrich the archive of learning resources of my classroom.
My classes are student oriented. I believe that in the Information Age, teachers are no longer the bearers of knowledge, but are instead facilitators of learning experiences. While we still learn linguistic concepts, our focus is on communication and on using our language skills to gain a deeper understanding of the world and our place in it. While many teachers think of technology as obstructive to the classroom experience, I embrace it and look for ways of using it for learning. My students work collaboratively through google drives, they share insights through Flipgrid and discussion boards, they develop blogs discussing their learning experience and more. This gives them additional skills on digital literacy and helps them become self-directed-learners, a key skill in this fast-evolving world.
My students learning of Spanish goes far beyond conjugations and vocabulary, I want them to develop cultural and critical language awareness as they are essential requirements to communicate effectively. Through practice, my students become critical thinkers; they realize that in order to express correctly their own views and opinions, they must master the language. Because of this, Spanish soon becomes not simply a goal but also the means of our learning. The syllabi for the courses I have taught share similarities in that they offer learning experiences that require personal analysis, problem solving and exploration of the issues at hand.
Finally, I fully understand that education is about more than academic content; we are forming the citizens that will rule the world in our old age. For them to be successful, they not only need to know the concepts and ideas we know now; they also need to become critical thinkers, problem solvers, curious individuals with social and work ethics to carry the torch of our civilization.