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As the school year winds down, add.a.lingua teachers gear up for professional learning

As the school year lets out, teachers often let go of the daily schedule. Although it means living day to day without the typical bell-to-bell routine, don’t think for a minute that teachers “let up” in the summer.

Let me take a common myth and bust it up on behalf of all teachers:

Teachers.

Rarely.

Take.

Summers.

Off.

Sure, we current and former teachers see how you might think we do. But, if you were to survey the teachers you know, you’d quickly learn that their summers are filled with a wide variety of education related activities that help them grow as leaders of learning so they can come back in the fall and rock it out for kids!

In my summers as a classroom teacher, I taught six week summer migrant programs all day everyday. When I wasn’t teaching, I was taking advantage of any free time I had to participate on my school district’s committee work, taking graduate level education classes, attending conferences, or tutoring students who needed an extra boost in the summer. Teachers have a hard time turning “off” their teacher brains in the summer. It’s logical. After all, we’re in the business of helping humans learn and grow, and that takes year round time and intensity.

Now, at add.a.lingua, my role lives year round. In the months of May through August, our instruction team amps up supports because add.a.lingua partner program teachers make a major dual language immersion learning push in the summer. That’s right. add.a.lingua teachers work HARD during the summer months with their teams of colleagues. They do it so that their programs are collectively equipped with sound, research-based practices and strategies that yield real results (linguistic, academic, and cultural understanding) throughout the school year.

What does it mean when a teachers say that they’ve been trained by add.a.lingua?

In teachers’ first three years in one of our partner schools, they experience roughly 20+ hours of add.a.lingua immersion specific professional learning. The crazy part? That’s not a total number. It’s literally 20+ hours per year! By the fourth and fifth years of partnership, the time spent in professional learning drops to between 5-10 hours per year because everyone uses what they’ve learned and experienced to build long-lasting, dual language immersion-specific collaborative structures in their own schools. We’re all about training, cheering on and building up resident experts in each and every single program we serve. It’s the Gradual Release in action with coaching every step of the way!

What’s so special about add.a.lingua training? Do existing immersion programs ever reach out to add.a.lingua?

On occasion, we receive phone calls from programs who have experienced a lot of teacher turnover. They share that although they’re a veteran program, they have many new teachers that haven’t had formal training in dual language immersion. Each new teacher brings with her a robust knowledge base to be celebrated! But, if there’s no plan for common professional learning experiences to calibrate values, beliefs, program alignment and instructional practices that yield top results for students, ripples begin to form. Results become a wild card. Though it’s no fault of the teachers, it’s definitely a challenge that existing programs often face, and add.a.lingua can help.

With our partner programs, any “new” teachers automatically come into our first year of training and follow the trajectory. Teachers navigate and calibrate values, beliefs and understandings in a way that helps integrate them into each unique school’s language immersion culture. This ensures common learning experiences across the program as it shifts and morphs over time. We’re now even seeing teachers seek out our partner programs for employment because they know that time, space, and dedication is placed on their professional learning! It’s amazing to experience, and a great way to honor teachers as the professionals they are.

So, what do add.a.lingua partner program teachers and point people say about their learning?

I often speak with teachers who have come from other language immersion contexts. They’ll talk about how they had never before received so much practitioner-based training on fidelity to their immersion model, development of the immersion language intentionally (not by chance!), balancing language and content instruction by integrating them, and monitoring progress in both the target language and English. add.a.lingua is thrilled to partner with so many teachers, point people and administrators as they roll up their sleeves this summer.

Another thing that always comes up is add.a.lingua’s accessibility. While our summer training is primarily online, we structure it to be collaborative, and we offer multiple touch points for in-person and online face-to-face contact to deepen our relationships throughout the school year. Check out what one point person of an add.a.lingua partner program is planning on doing to make the summer of 2018 an awesome one for add.a.lingua professional learning!

A funny thing happened the moment add.a.lingua announced that instead of heading to West Michigan for the educator summit, we would be completing our training virtually. Our budget said, “YAY!” and our teachers said, “NOOO!” Even in a world where it can feel like someone from across the globe is in the same room (Thanks, FaceTime!), we Californians knew we would miss the personal connection and literal face-time of the add.a.lingua staff and our partner schools/educators. Our trip to Michigan the previous year was filled with fantastic training, connecting with other teachers and schools mixed with a bit of restful, verdant vacation and team-bonding. It was great! Our virtual training this last summer was good—we met in a classroom in early July and tackled three of our four learning modules over the course of the week. We took breaks together and paused to have some reflection time. But our time wasn’t the same at all.

This year, as the point person at Redlands Christian School, I set out to create a summer training that mixes a little bit of both experiences. We won’t be flying to Michigan since it’s not in the budget, but we will be heading 45 minutes away to a cabin in the mountains where we will do a bulk of our add.a.lingua training. We will go through our add.a.lessonly courses (there’s wifi!), do some individual and collaborative planning for the school year, work on some curriculum development, plus take plenty of time to do some team-building and relaxation.

Julie’s plan is an excellent example of how each school can put their own twist on everything from location, timing, and energy for the experience, all the while staying faithful to the pillars of add.a.lingua’s five year pd level learning roadmap. Kudos to Julie and her team. We can’t wait to virtually “pop in” on their training to wish them well, let them know we’re here for them, and that we can’t wait for the new school year to start so we can support them via our partner care email and add.a.lingua office hours!

To sum it all up…add.a.lingua partner programs have us on speed dial. No matter what. And that’s how we like it. Why go it alone when you don’t have to?!

Get in touch using the form below if you’re interested in learning more about add.a.lingua teacher and administrator certification or our a.la.carte workshop pd offerings.

 

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