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On the sixth night of Hanukkah...

December 11, 2015

When I walked into Michele Whaley's Russian classroom in the spring of 2010, I had no idea that I was about to meet a teacher that would forever change my life.

Michele has had a profound impact on my personal development as an educator, as she introduced me to TPRS and has continued to mentor me through the organization and oversight of the monthly PLC that meets here in Anchorage. As an educator, Michele possesses many admirable qualities: she loves her students. She cares about their personal lives, she cares about their success in her program, she hurts when they hurt, and she celebrates when they celebrate. Michele strives to be more effective. She analyzes data (both formal and informal) and questions how she might change her practice in order to achieve even better results (many of her ponderings are shared on her blog). She knows that she doesn't know it all. She is quick to ask for advice, feedback, and correction. Michele actively seeks out new strategies and methods and considers how they might improve her practice. She is a CI teacher through and through, and she reads diverse journals and attends interdisciplinary conferences in order to find new ideas that could be applied to her teaching. Michele is also one of the most kind and genuine people that I have ever met. She sees the good in others, even when it seems to fickle ol' me that there isn't much good to be found. I don't think I have ever had a conversation with Michele--or overheard one between her and another person--in which she has not given me/the other person a compliment that left us glowing. Truly, she is an inspiration to me, and she has become a dear friend.

Michele has also made a profound and lasting impact in the field of world language education: she is an inspiration to YOU, whether you know it or not! Because of Michele's constant search for new and better ways to do what we are doing, she is responsible for much of what is now considered standard TCI practice. Ever hear of Embedded Reading? Thank Michele and Laurie Clarcq for that. How many of us now use Embedded Reading on a weekly basis to tackle diverse texts and topics!? MovieTalk? Most likely, the reason that you know about it is because Michele read about it, tried it, shared it with the Anchorage PLC, and all of us blogged about it. It has been around for a long time, but the reason that so many TCI teachers have begun to use it within the last three years is because MICHELE brought it to our attention. Check the blog archives if you don't believe me! Bill VanPatten? Like many others, Michele studies second language acquisition. Unlike many others, she is action-oriented! She proposed that we bring him to Alaska for our fall conference, and AFLA attendees flooded social media with his research. You see, you don't have to be an idea "maker" in order to impact our profession (although Michele is that, too); you don't even need to have a platform to shout from. Strive to be better than you were yesterday...last week...last year...and share your journey with your sphere. Those flames that you are lighting in the teachers in your department or in your region could spread like wildfire!

Why am I writing all this? What does it have to do with the giveaway?

Great educators need recognition. Michele is the 2016 PNCFL Teacher of the Year, yet her quiet and peaceful countenance often leaves her in the shadows. Great educators doubt their greatness; it's a little thing called 'humility' that is part of what makes them so great! So I am here to shout from the rooftops that MICHELE WHALEY IS AMAZING AND SHE CHANGED MY LIFE! Also that ACTFL should select her as the 2016 National Language Teacher of the Year, but...well...I guess they have a process for deciding that ;-)

So for today, I want YOU to shout it from the rooftops: who is someone that has changed YOUR life, professionally speaking at least? In the comments section, share the name of an educator that has impacted your practice, and explain in concrete (but not necessarily lengthy) terms what that person has done to help you in your journey to become a better teacher. And while you can certainly recognize someone that you have never met (a writer, a blogger, etc.) you are NOT allowed to mention me in the comments. This is not a lame attempt to stroke my own ego. Furthermore, the person that you mention does not have to be a CI educator. And once you've left your comment, why not take a minute to shoot your hero an email sharing it with him or her?

Ack! I still haven't said what you'll win. Easy! One lucky teacher will win a copy of Fluency Through TPRStorytelling AND a copy of TPRS with Chinese Characteristics. The authors of those texts (Blaine Ray, Contee Seely, Terry Waltz) have profoundly and positively impacted our profession. As always, you are more than welcome to gift your winnings to another teacher if you already own copies of these texts.

Once you've left your comment recognizing someone that has impacted your practice, click here to enter your name in the giveaway. Then, read back through the comments that have already been left and add chime in with more recognition anytime that someone else mentions one of your mentors!

...and congratulations to Nelly Hughes and Emily Long, winners of the $25 gift cards to Teachers Pay Teachers (night 4 giveaway)!

Click on the image to enter tonight's giveaway!

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