This post is part of TeachThought’s 30 Day Reflective Teacher Blogging Challenge.
Day 9: Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about (or may not care).
My greatest accomplishment as a teacher is not quitting education. My first year teaching, I worked at a tiny rural school in northwest Georgia. It was the hardest year of my life. I was the only foreign language teacher at the school (in the county, actually), and taught over 200 students each seven-period day with no planning time. There were some very kind English and Social Studies teachers (looking at you, Michelle, Karen, and Charis) who took me under their wing and helped me figure out organization and classroom management, listened to me at lunch (and watched my classes once or twice while I hid in their classroom to cry), but as for curriculum, I was on my own. I had no idea what I was doing! I was the worksheet queen hogging the copier each morning and pulled out every vocab and grammar game I had picked up during student teaching, but I still struggled each afternoon to summon enough brain power to come up with a lesson for the next day. At some point that year, I found my first teaching blog, Sherry Amorocho’s More Spanish (Bless you for blogging, Sherry!). Somehow I made it to the end of the year, and signed my contract with the stipulation that I would only teach six classes the next year. The second year was hard…but better. Sherry posted some links to other language teaching blogs (I added them to my Google Reader account!), and my world slowly opened up. And then….Pinterest happened (resource explosion!), and I found the Creative Language Class, and started to learn about proficiency based-teaching, and that there was an alternative to traditional teaching with all the grammar and long lists of vocabulary, and assessing for memorization of isolated words. In my third year, I found Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell, and read all her archives about proficiency based teaching. I applied for a SCOLT travel scholarship to Spain and got it, and went to my first conference to accept the award. I took Sara-Elizabeth’s advice and signed up for a TPRS summer workshop, then attended a three week summer seminar in Madrid on language teaching, and then attended two more conferences the next spring (year four), and IFLT this past summer, thanks to Martina Bex. The more I learned, the better teacher I became, and the more I enjoyed my job. My PLN saved my life. Or at least my career. So thank you, all you teacher bloggers and tweeters and conference presenters, for your generous sharing of your time, resources and expertise. You helped me not to quit, and I can’t express my gratitude enough.