Greetings MALT members! I can’t believe that we have had our Easter break, and that April is here! It seems like only yesterday we were coming back from Christmas break, and now we are actually closer to the last day of school than we are to those final days of our Christmas vacation. Before we know it our seniors will be graduating. Hopefully we will soon be enjoying some warmer temperatures that would indicate that spring is on its way!
Speaking of spring, the MALT Spring Conference is just around the corner. You still have plenty of time to register - the deadline for early registration expired on Friday, April 6th, but you are still welcome to register on site. So far we have received more than 40 applications to attend, and it is exciting to see the mix of regular attendees and new faces that will be gathering with us in Great Falls to attend Craig Sheehy’s workshop. For those of you who have been craving something a little different, I think you will really enjoy Craig’s presentation with his focus on Second Language Acquisition, and hands-on TPRS demonstrations. Your colleagues in Great Falls have attended one of his workshops, and they were very excited to bring him back to share his expertise with all of you. In addition, Justin Woollacott and Janine Cruz from EF Educational Tours will again be hosting our social from 4:30 to 7:00 P. M. on Friday evening, which will give us all another chance to meet new colleagues and visit with friends from around the state.
I hope all of you know just how special it is to belong to our organization. MALT has always been committed to bringing high quality professional development to our members. In the past we have seen Blaine Ray, Jason Fritze, Toni Theisen, Brandy Mau, Thomas Sauer, and Kara Parker and Megan Smith who created the “Adios Textbook” website, just to name a few. We are one of the only professional organizations in Montana who host a second conference outside of MEA/MFT. In the 23 years that I have been teaching, I have always been able to count on MALT for professional development specific to language teaching. Every fall, MALT has planned an all-day institute during the Fall MEA/MFT Educators’ Conference; this fall our presenter will be Megan Hambrick from Bozeman who will be guiding us as we work to create authentic communicative lessons. She is very excited to collaborate with all of us.
Speaking of the Fall Conference, there is still time to register to share something from your own classroom by presenting a sectional at the conference in Billings in October. The deadline to register for a sectional is April 30th, and this is the link. The registration process is fairly simple; you will need a title for your presentation, and a brief abstract about your topic. There is also a monetary incentive as MEA-MFT does compensate us with a small stipend, and if you present one section it does off-set the registration fee for the conference. All of us have innovative ideas that we use in our classrooms to facilitate learning. Do you have a great resource for authentic materials? Have you found a song that helps reinforce a grammar concept? Do you have a favorite on-line tool that you use in your classroom? Have you started using Google Classroom? All of these ideas would be great topics for our Friday sectionals. If you have any doubts about a topic, please feel free to send me an e-mail and I would be happy to help you through the process!
As members we also have a very important decision to make during our business luncheon on Friday. Our treasurer, Erika Shupe, resigned in December, citing time restraints. Erika did an amazing job for us, and the members of the board wish her well as she continues to pursue other endeavors. We will be looking for her replacement at the Spring Conference. The new Treasurer will begin immediately after the Spring Conference, and then serve a two-year term. Blakely Edgington put a survey on our Facebook page last week asking for nominations in advance of our business meeting. You can nominate a colleague or yourself; we will ask all of the nominees if they are willing to serve as Treasurer before we put their names on the ballot. Our board has worked very hard to help make the transition easier for new officers. We now have a list of Standard Operating Procedures to help guide the work of our new members. Planning for the Vice-President to automatically become the next President also allows us to have some continuity as well. The time commitment is not horrible; we meet via Google Hangouts one Wednesday per month for one hour. The Treasurer maintains our membership lists and takes care of deposits and disbursements. If this sounds like a job you would be willing to do, please consider running for this position.
Finally, Spring Conference is also the time where we honor our award winners for 2018. This is only the second year where we have honored a Teacher of the Year, and awarded a member for Outstanding Contributions to the Teaching of World Languages. Our honorees this year are Kerri Hiatt and Lynette Pottenger, respectively. Both of these women have contributed so much to our organization, and at the same time have worked in small schools where they are their own department. MALT has been very lucky to have dedicated educators like Kerri and Lynette who were willing to serve their colleagues around the state by being officers in our organization and always being advocates for teaching World Languages.
So, MALT members, our year is quickly approaching its conclusion, but there is still work to do to prepare for the year ahead and our new students. I personally look forward to seeing all of you either in Great Falls later this month, or next fall in Billings. Happy Spring!
- Alice Nation, MALT President