At the Neag School of Education, where I teach methods and advise future teachers, we certify world language teacher candidates through two programs: Integrated Bachelor’s/Master’s (IB/M) and Teacher Certification for Post Collegiate Graduates (TCPCG). The goal of the Master’s year, particularly for IB/M students, is to encourage teacher candidates to take on leadership roles in year-long, school-based internships, preparing them to serve as innovators and agents of change.
During the Master’s year I have my candidates reflect on and enact advocacy for world language teaching and learning through the World Language Advocacy Project. This project involves the creation and implementation of two or more audiovisual artifacts that either promote language education or recruit future language teachers. I refer teacher candidates to ACTFL’s Educators Rising program for ideas and statistics about world language learning and teaching. I also encourage them to use whatever technology they feel most comfortable with to create these artifacts. Candidates have created Powtoons, videos, infographics, and interactive games using Kahoot and other platforms. Less tech-oriented projects are also accepted, but I find that candidates are excited about using technology in new and creative ways.
One example is the following infographic, created by IB/M graduate Alexander Gutierrez (MA, 2021) and shared with Spanish students at East Hartford High School:
Another example is this slide from a PowerPoint presentation, created by TCPCG graduate Rosemary Green (MA, 2021) and shared with French students at Southington High School:
Just as important as creating the artifacts is sharing them. Candidates are required to present their artifacts to K–12 students, teachers, postsecondary students, or other audiences, and discuss them. In some cases, candidates follow up with students who indicate an interest in teaching world languages. Candidates also write a reflection on the discussion that took place using feedback they collected from their audiences. Both the creation and sharing of these artifacts empower teacher candidates to become leaders by taking them outside of their normal classroom routines and settings, allowing them to engage with a variety of audiences on a topic about which they are passionate. In addition, teacher candidates who have created and implemented world language advocacy projects are empowered by the need to articulate why they themselves became language teachers, as well as the advantages of learning additional languages. This ability will prove invaluable as these candidates engage with students, teachers, and administrators in their future careers.
The World Language Advocacy Project is still in its infancy, so its long-term impact on developing teacher leadership and recruiting future teachers is yet to be known. Nonetheless, positive responses
from teacher candidates and students about the project illustrate both the immediate and the potential impact on teacher leadership and advocacy. I look forward to seeing what future teacher candidates create and discover about the profession through this project, as well as how they use this project to become leaders in their own schools.
(This article is partially adapted from Back, M. (2019). Teacher leadership through advocacy: The world languages advocacy project. The Language Educator (February/March), 50–52.)