Another great conference.


This is my 3rd time at ACTFL and I think I’m just starting to see what’s so special about it.

So many times, as teachers, we are focused on what’s right in front of us, what’s happening now. We’re thinking about these students, this year’s goals, and how we can improve our lessons right away. Don’t get me wrong… Those are great things that all teachers should all be doing.

What ACTFL provides is much deeper. After reflecting (recovering) for a few days, I pinpointed what I think are three important takeaways from the conference.

1.) What we do matters!

ACTFL’s new Teacher of the Year, Nicole Naditz, said this. Keynote speaker, Anne Griffiths, alluded to it. I felt it at a few sessions, too. Our work matters!

Students all over the world are put in language classes and we have an opportunity and a responsibility to open their eyes and show them the world. Don’t think for a second that they aren’t listening and don’t ever give up.

2.) We’re not alone!

With thousands of WL teachers, ACTFL is the best place to network.

In fact, it’s that one time each year when I know I’ll bump into some great people…

My mentors: those who pushed me through those challenging first years. Thomas Sauer & Greg Duncan taught me so much early on and put me on the right track. They are working all across the country but I know I can find them at ACTFL!

My friends/colleagues that I met at conferences: Nadine Jacobs (the Nell lady) was one of the first people I met at my first conference 7 years ago. It was just weeks after I started teaching. Her passion and excitement for her job and others inspired me then and it still does today.

Tom Welch hosted his annual brainstorm sessions to challenge us to think outside of the box!

Noah G. may have lost his Mickey ears, but not his energy and ideas for the classroom! Gotta love him!

As usual, Joe Dale showed me about 50 apps that pretty much blew my mind. #conferencehomework

Teachers with more experience than me: People like Andrea Suarez and Juan Carlos Morales and Sara Elizabeth Cottrell still take time to share ideas, encourage me, and show me that even great teachers are still trying to be better.

Lastly, new friends: Kara and I got to meet a lot of people from #langchat and from our Creative Language Class “family” like Laura Sexton, Lindsey Bowen, Jennifer Salas, Bethanie Drew, Antonio (the injured Sevillano), Christina Zimmerman, Lola Usandizaga, and so many more!

We may not work together or talk every day, but this ACTFL crew becomes a solid support over time.

3.) We’re in for the long haul! 

Teaching is not just a job. It’s a career that so many are truly dedicated to!

So many teachers come to this annual conference year after year. They take time away from friends and family, outside of school hours and on weekends. They pay for flights and hotels (many with no help from their schools). Although San Antonio was undeniably charming, teachers were here to grow!

Teaching isn’t easy. It takes time and energy and heart. Our job is NEVER done. That’s scary, but also encouraging. We keep going, in spite of our mistakes, and get a little better every day.

So there you have it! ACTFL 2014!

Oh, and next year is in San Diego (just in case you need one more reason to go). See ya there!