Spanish class is about building community in our classrooms, community in which language acquisition and authentic communication takes place. Not only do we foster community in the classroom, I was able to attend a pd week that fostered an amazing community for teachers.
This past week, 50 world language teachers from around the country gathered in Denver Colorado to improve their teaching practice at the OWL Bootcamp. We represented a range of ages, states, religion, political views, languages, ethnicities, and experiences with OWL. Each day I was struck by the beautiful community we grew to be. I was reminded of the community created in my classroom and thankful that it was modeled at the teacher level, too. Each session was facilitated with the same strategies and techniques that were being taught, which I believe created the community. Because of that community teachers felt free to take risks, make mistakes, participate fully, and grow.
Through the professional development, we were equipped to bring new strategies and techniques to our students and provide that environment for them. I’ll paraphrase what one participant said: We hear a lot about teaching the whole learner; but not much about being a whole teacher. He believed (and many of us agreed) that OWL allows us to be our authentic selves in the classroom. This freedom empowers teachers and inspires their practice and ability to create the same experience for their students.
I’m very thankful for the experience that week and the opportunities to also share with teachers what we are doing at Innovation Academy Charter School.