MALT members, I would like to begin this month’s blog by sharing my sincere condolences to all of our French-teaching colleagues for the loss suffered after the huge fire at Notre Dame. Not only was the building itself a work of art, but also an historical icon and visible representation of France. Open since 1345, this building has been a reliable, comforting presence that has withstood revolutions and world wars. Please know that many of us in the language community weep with all of you over this tragic loss.
On a lighter note, I would like to thank each and every one of you who attended our Spring Conference in Dillon, April 12th and 13th. We had an amazing turnout, 77 attendees, which I believe is an all-time record for any MALT conference. At this time our list of members stands at 62, which has remained more or less steady for the past three years. We are excited that so many of you joined us for some outstanding professional development provided by Tina Hargaden. On our feedback forms, one of you wrote, “Tina’s presentation was excellent, accessible, and well-balanced between all the modes of communication. It gave me great ideas that I can immediately implement in class and great ideas for what I want to change in the future.” Ultimately, this is our goal for ALL conferences, that you leave with information you can implement immediately without reinventing everything you do in class.
Also on the feedback form, we had asked for suggestions for changes to the conference. One or two people suggested that we begin at 9:00 AM instead of 8:00. I don’t think that this change is feasible if the goal is to have 12 hours of quality professional development to use towards renewing your teaching certificates. If we start later, we need to stay until 5:00 to meet the required hours, or until 1:00 PM on Saturday. I really feel that this early start time is necessary so that we can learn as much as possible in our short time together. Remember, the social and the time to just visit with colleagues is valuable too, so we want to make sure we are efficient with the time that we have. One of you wrote, “I learned so much from my colleagues from behavior management to instruction. I really benefited from the open discussion.” So, we need to be aware that a little processing time is also critical. One suggestion that was made, though, was to have a one-hour break out session for each of the individual languages to meet as a group. We will look at this idea as we begin planning for our conference next spring.
When we asked what you would like to see in the future, you responded overwhelmingly that you would like to see more PD about Comprehensible Input. The next two categories were Grading and Assessment. So, I believe that our presenter in the fall, Laura Terrill will be the perfect fit for our group. I will be passing along more information about her presentation when I have a chance to chat with her about the feedback we received from all of you, and she can fine-tune her presentation to fit our needs. Continue to check the website and the Facebook page for updates.
For our first year offering college credit, I feel that we were successful. Only 4 of you took advantage of this opportunity, but from the feedback it looks like money was an issue for many who did not take advantage of the college credit. As a board we will discuss this at our meeting on May 8th, but I suspect that the credit may not be an option every year. However, when that decision is made, we will have a system in place that everyone will know when those credits will be available well in advance of our conferences.
As we celebrated events happening to our members this year, there was one special award that I feel needs to be mentioned here. The Kalispell Glacier French department has won an Exemplary with Honors Distinction from the American Association of Teachers of French. Congratulations to all of you for all of the hard work and dedication! Your students are very lucky to have you all for their teachers!
Our school year once again is winding down, and I want you to know how much I appreciate each and every one of you. It is unfortunate that in a state this large, miles separate us and make more regular gatherings impossible. However, we make the most of the time we have, and I am so proud to belong to an organization with so many talented, dedicated and supportive colleagues. Take care, friends, and we will see you in Belgrade in October!