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add.a.lingua lead learner 2016 winner: Laura Schuler

Immersion educators are some of the hardest working professionals we know, so when they take us up on an offer to do additional collaborative work with us…we sit up and take notice.

At educator summit 2015 we opened up the opportunity to veteran teachers to help us reflect on the add.a.lingua performance assessment (aalpa) as lead learners. Lead learners through the initiative engaged in online meetings throughout the course of the school year as they prepared for, implemented, scored, and reflected on their assessment cycles. Moreover, they were able to engage in deep dialogue about how to use their learning to set immersion language goals with their students!

We want to extend our sincere thanks to those teachers who stepped up to collaborate with and learn alongside us: Zuri Suero, Laura Schuler, Erin O’Brien-Jenison, Kerri Terpstra, Melissa Izenbaard, and Gabriela Gil Martínez. We also announced at educator summit 2015 that one fortunate lead learner would win a trip to CARLA’s fall conference with the add.a.lingua team.

After all the work had been submitted, Laura Shuler, a third grade Spanish immersion teacher from Ada Vista Elementary won the contest and will join add.a.lingua at CARLA in October. Congratulations Laura!

IMG_4568.jpgLaura was kind enough to share her reflections on being a lead learner, and we hope that they are insightful and encouraging to you.

Stephanie Irizarry (Q): What made you want to be a part of the aalpa lead learner initiative? Why did it sound/seem appealing at first?

Laura (A): The aalpa is one of my favorite elements of the add.a.lingua frameworks! I teach 3rd grade and both of our aalpas are really fun! I wanted to be a lead learner so that I could collaborate with other teachers around the planning, implementation, integration, feedback, and goal-setting elements of the aalpa. My team and I had implemented the aalpa a few times and I was looking forward to sharing our successes and suggestions with add.a.lingua!

Stephanie Irizarry (Q): Carole Miller and Juliana Saxton of the University of Victoria have been quoted as saying, “It is the language of reflection that deepens our knowledge of who we are in relation to others in a community of learners.” As you think about the experience you had with other aalpa lead learners in reference to this quote, what comes to mind?

Laura (A): One element of the lead learner meetings was to complete a questionnaire IMG_4566.JPGbefore and after each meeting. I was surprised at how much my thinking around the aalpa changed from the pre-meeting survey to the post-meeting survey as a direct result of the conversations that we had together! Learning from the ideas, successes, failures, and suggestions from like-minded educators was such a gift.

Stephanie Irizarry (Q): Of all of the dialogue in lead learner meetings, what mattered the most to you as you set out to implement, score, and reflect on the aalpa in general?

Laura (A): add.a.lingua values teacher feedback! As a teacher in the classroom that is working through the frameworks and aalpas, it felt empowering to know that add.a.lingua wanted my feedback, suggestions, and ideas.

Stephanie Irizarry (Q): Was there a moment in the aalpa lead learner initiative in which you felt any anxiety or concern? If so, what was it, and how did you overcome it? If not, to what might you attribute your sense of calm?

Laura (A): There is a bit of vulnerability when you join a group of teacher learners in this type of project. Sharing honestly about our implementation, scoring, and reflections on the aalpa was essential to the success of the initiative. [You] diligently set each meeting to begin with clear expectations and norms, [your] guidance and facilitator role set the tone!

Stephanie Irizarry (Q): Would you recommend an add.a.lingua lead learner experience to other dual language immersion colleagues? Why or why not?

Laura (A): Yes! This experience was a great way to feel more connected with add.a.lingua and to learn about how the frameworks are implemented in other schools around the country.

Stephanie Irizarry (Q): What did you think when you heard that add.a.lingua, as part of the grand prize, would be paying an all expenses paid trip to CARLA’s Sixth International Conference on Immersion and Dual Language Education?

Laura (A): I have to be honest… the grand prize was a huge motivating factor for me to join the initiative! I am so excited to travel with the add.a.lingua team! I’m excited to learn, grow, and discover. I’m excited to return to my team and school to share and collaborate. I’m excited to push myself as an educator and a life-long learner. And, I’m excited to learn new things to help my students grow!

Stephanie Irizarry (Q): What do you most look forward to as you participate in pre-conference workshops by adding your aalpa lead learner perspective? What makes you excited about attending the conference with the add.a.lingua team?

Laura (A): I’m looking forward to stepping away from my classroom for a few days to deepen my knowledge of immersion. As a busy classroom teacher (and busy mom of 2 littles!), it is difficult to keep up-to-date on literature and research in immersion, and I’m so grateful for this gift of time to dive deep and add to my toolkit!

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