You Got This! Reframing Our Thinking for 2023Thomas Sauer

As educators, we are bombarded with negative messages about our practices. From students who roll their eyes (or worse) during class, parents who send emails complaining about the latest assignment that you were so excited about practicing with your students, administrators who seem to find a way to provide you with the most meaningless feedback, to (social) media conversations about the role of educators in today’s society. It sure isn’t easy being an educator in 2023, which leads me to wonder how can you as a teacher thrive in a deficit culture? There isn’t a magic bullet that will change the messages you receive from others. What if in 2023 you started supporting yourself by figuring out what kind of environment you want instead of continuing to focus on all the negative behaviors of others and ourselves? 

Despite the negative environment(s) that many teachers find themselves in, you are already doing many many amazing things each and every day and yet we keep focusing on the things that we are not doing “right” yet. Being an effective language educator is a multi-faceted endavor, and while the Teacher Effectiveness for Language Learning (TELL) Framework can provide us a with a highly structured roadmap of effective behaviors and practices in the classroom, the sky doesn’t open up magically to let you know “Congratulations! You have successfully implemented ____________.” So, when something amazing happens in your classroom, but only the teacher sees it, did it really happen?

Here are some tips that will help you to observe, name, and compliment effective strategies in your own practice:

Be on the lookout for positive things happening in your learning environment. Consider documenting them in a journal or through other means.

When something makes you laugh out loud when you are with students, write it down afterwards. What was it? What was the source of the humor?

When a student gives you a compliment, listen carefully. Which compliments do you hear from students most often? What do your students love about you?

Set up an account with Catalyst and complete the self-assessments to help you identify what you are doing well as a language teacher. Then connect with other educators who share your strengths.

Instead of picking a goal for the year that is something you are not doing (yet), pick something that allows you to focus on your strengths so that you are more aware of what you are doing well. Figure out why this is your strength and how you might be able to share it with others.

Write a thank-you note to your future self. Visit where you can write yourself a note to be delivered in the future. Where do you see yourself at the end of the academic or calendar year? Write down your current realities to see how far you’ve come.

Engage with positive voices on social media. They do exist! (Tip: are you following PEARLL on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook?)