Years of reading, research, studying, classroom experience and a very diverse Twitter PLN provide me with ample pieces and parts to construct my own model - and to rip parts off and rebuild as needed. So what have I built to date? It looks something like this:
- Tenet 1: Children's emotional and physical well-being trumps all dogma . If the instructional model or method is not ensuring an equitable experience for ALL students in my classroom, it must go. This is non-negotiable.
- Tenet 2: I have a responsibility to prepare my students in alignment with the world language standards that the Ohio Department of Education has published. Those standards are proficiency-based, and reflect best practices and research in our field. I believe that a student's success in my course should be measured in alignment with the state standards - proficiency level - and I do not find it defensible to fail students based on completion of classwork/homework, or mastery of verb conjugation or other remnants of grammar-based instruction. This is also non-negotiable.
- Tenet 3: There is not one sole fixed proficiency destination, and there are many ways to travel. The proficiency levels are places learners pass through on our language-acquisition journey, and I do not feel limited by a particular method or approach as I guide my students. By reading about research and practices from a variety of second language professionals (see Twitter #langchat, #gilt, #fsl), I can make informed choices about the materials and techniques I use in my classroom. Of course, whatever I choose is governed by my responsibility to follow state standards and measure students by their proficiency (see Tenet 2).
- Tenet 4: If it doesn't work, it is my job to fix it, not to cling to a dysfunctional or deleterious lesson or instructional tool because of ego or dogma. This might mean changing an assignment mid-class, or throwing out a classroom practice mid-semester. Perhaps it will mean reteaching or adjusting a lesson if formative assessment shows that students are simply not ready for it. No matter how well-researched or highly recommended a practice or resource may be, if it is not fitting my students, I should not use it. Fix the ship - bypass the compressor if you need to (yep, that's another Star Wars reference) - but keep it safely in the air, even if it means doing something unorthodox, subversive, or outside the canon. Pragmatic over dogmatic, every time.
Just call me a scavenger.