Last month I had the opportunity to attend the Rassias method class at Belmont Abbey College with Nancy Llewellyn, Jason Slanga, and Carson Thomas. Here are some of my thoughts after the weekend:
· It is most useful to learn new skills and then have the opportunity to practice in front of and get feedback from colleagues. I have too few opportunities to do this, but whenever I do it results in powerful learning. This was a great reminder to me of how I need to be more intentional about creating these opportunities for myself as a teacher and learner. It also was an important reminder of how imperative formative feedback is for my students. The Rassias method drills provide great ways to give non-threatening formative feedback to students during their process of constructing linguistic knowledge.
· Observing other teachers is amazing professional development. The opportunity to see Nancy Llewellyn teach a class to her seminarians was essential for helping me to build my understanding of how these methods could combine into a lesson. We were given that opportunity to see her teach early on in the workshop before we had been taught many of the methods. That observation was important for building my own motivation to learn the techniques. Motivation is essential for all learners, and I need to make sure I am paying attention to that with my own students.
· Language learning should be fun. Nancy’s students were clearly having fun during class – at the same time as they were being challenged. This made the challenge feel non-threatening to them and clearly amplified their learning. When we were practicing the methods ourselves, we teachers also spent a lot of time laughing together. The fun we had learning motivated us to be more creative in our linguistic production to keep the fun going, contributing even more to an already powerful learning experience. I want to recommit myself laughing more with my classes.
Teachers know that it is incumbent on us to model lifelong learning for our students. Attending this workshop was a great way for me to experience being back in the classroom. If you ever have the chance to attend yourself, I can’t recommend the experience highly enough. I know they already have dates up for an October workshop, which you can see here. My recommendation is to start thinking now about what grants you can apply for to get there. - Parva