Hello to you all!
Happy New Year!
I hope this letter finds you all recharged from the holidays and ready to embark upon new opportunities for growth in this New Year. What a year it has been! From House Bill 5 and new graduation plans to ACTFL coming to Texas, we world language educators have been very busy in the state of Texas this year. Looking back, all we have learned has taught the other board members and I that Texas world language educators’ circumstances and needs have evolved. There are many opportunities for TFLA to help support you in this new era where 21st century skills and language proficiency are what we should be striving to teach our students. All of us within the leadership of TFLA are very passionate about and focused on what TFLA can do to serve language educators of all types and from all areas in our state in years to come. As we sketch out ideas or chat with colleagues we keep hearing the same things over and over. No matter where we are or what we are doing language educators from all parts of Texas tell us this, “We need more professional learning options.” Members, let me assure you by telling you this: We are listening to you.
Laying the Groundwork for the Future of TFLA
In order to pave the way to bringing more professional development to you we know that we need to create more events besides the annual conference and we have to find a way to make those trainings more accessible to educators no matter where they are or what their budget is. That realization led to creating a map that divides the state into seven regions with the idea that it would take no more than two hours to drive to a major city in that region from any point within the area. This way TFLA could host trainings in any of those regions at any time during the year. A very big thanks goes to Sharon Deering and her helping committee who labored over that map and the much needed organization it brings to TFLA’s future plans.
We also knew that to deliver training across the state it would take more hands on deck, so we selected a passionate, knowledgeable and hardworking teacher leader to represent each area, coordinate events and serve as a touch stone for other educators in the region. This summer we trained our first group of Regional Coordinators at our first annual TFLA Summer Institute in Arlington, Texas where we had the honor of learning with none other than Paul Sandrock, ACTFL Director of Education!
On the Horizon
Now, with key people in key positions across the state it is time to put feet to the pavement and begin the next leg in TFLA’s journey, and we would like to take you all with us. This year we have some exciting events planned and we would like to invite you to learn with us.
Our first event of the year is a new addition to our offerings, and I am ecstatic to announce that Saturday, March 28th we will offer our first ever Spring Workshophosted by the Classical and Modern Languages Department of Texas Tech University in Lubbock. Our theme is Changing Our Focus and we will be exploring theACTFL Proficiency Guidelines and the implications they have on world language instruction. Keep in touch because registration will be opening very soon.
Because our first summer institute was such a big hit we are bringing the event back for a second year. July 22-24th we are offering our second annual Summer Institute for three amazing days of learning at Baylor University in Waco. Our guest speaker will be Greg Duncan and the event will be hosted by the Baylor University Modern Foreign Languages department. I am particularly thrilled about this event because Greg Duncan is a phenomenal teacher trainer, and he played a critical role in my own professional learning, so I highly recommend all language educators to attend.
Finally, a year would not be complete without the TFLA Annual Conference and this year we are heading back to cosmopolitan Houston, October 15-17 to connect, learn, and fellowship. This year’s theme is Proficiency and Beyond and I would like to invite you all to consider submitting proposals to present workshops and sessions on how you are making language proficiency a reality for your students and broadening their horizons through language, culture and literature.
Forging New Paths
While TFLA is offering new learning opportunities, we are not done. We want to hear from you. What are your needs? What issues are you dealing with? How can we help you connect to the organization and to other world language educators out there? Your input is so important to us so that we can make sure that your language organization is meeting your needs. Our deepest desire as your TFLA leadership is to support you, your teaching and your learning as best we can, and I can say with confidence that we are all excited about the many plans we are working on in the effort to bring more professional learning and networking opportunities to you in 2015 and beyond.