Wow, Te@chThought! Always making me dig deep and think about how to respond to your prompts. It's a little nerve-wracking while at the same time challenging (in a good way!) Today's (well, ok, yesterday's- I'm a day late already...) prompt is: What are you most proud of to date in your teaching career?
Once again, it is difficult to choose just one thing that I am most proud of. And this is not just a way to toot my own horn. I think that being in the profession for a while (15 years) already shows that I've had many successes (big, small, personal, professional). Otherwise, what would I still be doing here??
To limit myself, I have chosen to talk about my hand in creating a successful program in my school district. I believe that I have really breathed life into the Italian program in my district by encouraging students to choose Italian. I don't necessarily like to compete with my LOTE (languages other than English) counterparts but I do have to preserve my job, When I arrived 15 years ago, the enrollment in the Italian program was not very high. I decided that there were a few things that I could do right away to change that. For one, I had to prove that Italian was not just the language of food. I do believe that because Italian is not one of the U.N. languages or because it didn't have an AP program, that many people didn't take it seriously and many parents tried to steer their children into studying Spanish because it was "more useful" or French because it was "more prestigious." That certainly is a lot to compete with. So I lobbied with many other Italian teachers to gain the recognition of our language by instituting an AP program. I have since had the district let me, in conjunction with St. John's University, teach a college-level course that earns my students 6 college credits. This ability to benefit from the study of Italian academically has drawn more students. Even though I have some doubts about the whole AP exam validity, having it certainly demonstrates that we, too are worthy. Having a college-credit granting course helps show that our language is also valuable.
Another thing that has helped me is that since 2005, I have run a student tour to Italy every other year. Students generally participate in their junior or senior year, which gives them incentive to learn as much as they can and to remain in the program. To say that these trips are a lot of work would be the understatement of the century. I work nonstop to make sure the kids are safe, learning and having a fun, unforgettable experience. All of the work is worth it to validate what I teach in the classroom and to give them this opportunity to experience first-hand the culture and language. It brings to life everything I talk to them about in class. Many of my students have gone on to do study abroad programs with their universities and some have even become Italian teachers! They say that imitation is the best kind of flattery and they are right. Everything I do for my profession may have a cost (emotional, time or even monetary) but to see a program blossom and become successful is the perfect payback!