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!

34 replies on “On the sixth night of Hanukkah…

  1. Joe Sanford, in Erie, PA, shaped me not only as a teacher but as a person. He was my US History teacher in high school as well as the football and track coach. He took me and showed me love and compassion at a time when I needed those things more than anything else. He told me I was worthy, I was intelligent and that I could make a difference and I believed him. On the days that I am working with difficult kids in bad situations, I think back to him and it gives me the determination to make a difference in that difficult kid’s life that day and in that moment. Thanks Coach Joe!!

  2. My education professor, Ms. Smith was the person who instilled my desire to want to be better. Ever since I was in her class as a student, I learned to expect more out of my education. As a teacher myself, I have learned to expect more out of myself. She was the first teacher who took us on field trips around the city, to places I would have never been to other wise, she also took time to teach us life skills as well as learn to explore the world around us. I strive to be more than just a teacher, but a mentor and someone who leaves the same desire with her students. She always encouraged me to do more with my teaching degree. Without her, I do not believe that I would not have had the desire to learn about the TPRS method and be the teacher I am today.

  3. Lori Belinsky completely changed my outlook on language teaching! She introduced me (an 8 year veteran to language teaching at the time) to TPRS and TCI. Her passion and knowledge of CI methods is inspiring! She is awesome! We worked together for the 3 years and unfortunately for me, she is at a new school this year. I miss her and our daily collaboration! Thanks Lori!

  4. Karen Lichtman is now a college professor, but when I met her she was just out of college. She was all fired up about this thing called TPRS and was sure it was going to set world language instruction on its head. I was the experienced teacher who knew better, but she turned my mind around. Thanks for doing so!

  5. I worked with Carrie Toth for one year, we both left the school district but she was my first introduction to TPR. Later I went back to observe Carrie Toth after she received Teacher of the Year from Central State and Illinois foreign language Council. I also watched Carrie Toth and Carol Cobb presents at Central States in St Louis. This is where I got my toes wet with TPRS publishing . Since I left Carrie Toth room I’ve been obsessed with following blogs of all the comprehensible teachers and TPRS teachers. I don’t know how you will find the time to do all of this but I’m inspired by everything you do . I’m not allowed to mention the one I follow the most initials are M. B., Bryce Henderstorm, the blog,mis claseslocas, kplacido,mpeto and Sra barragon (sp???)Thank you all

  6. Without a doubt, Jen Hasler Troutman! She’s who inspired me to teach & is the most genuine, positive soul you’ll ever meet and the most amazing, authentic teacher I’ve ever known. She doesn’t stop! She loves the kids so much and just gives and gives and gives until it warms her heart even more. Jen touched my heart when my mother was diagnosed with cancer (I was a junior in HS) & was more influential than she will ever know. I had the pleasure of teaching right next door to her last year and miss her dearly. 🙂 love u “Has!”

  7. Sandy fink! I remember the first day I met her. I asked her “what text book should I teach from?” She rolled her eyes and said something to the effect of…”you’ll be better off if you just talk to them in Spanish with meaningful and compelling stories”. Mind blown. What?! Huh?!
    This started my journey to discover tprs/CI and much much more! Without Sandy- I’d likely be thinking of a career change because let’s face it- teaching is hard… And text books tend to be boring.
    I’m so grateful I stumbled upon her my first year of teaching. She’s been the source of many great ideas, resources and encouragement!
    Thanks Sandy!

  8. My department chair Sandy Fink asked me if I had ever heard of TPRS and handed me Ben Slavic’s books to take home when I first started teaching at my current school. I never looked back. She and my former Spanish colleague Ami Ameduri have been incredibly inspirational and absolutely instrumental in shaping the teacher that I have become. Their energy, passion, and total belief in what they do has really shaped me as a teacher. I have really enjoyed learning to teach with CI with these wonderful women as my mentors.

  9. Elizabeth Dentlinger has been a great inspiration for me as I switched from the textbook to CI. I started just following her virtually, but have now been able to connect with her in person multiple times as a fellow Iowan Spanish teacher. I love that our classes are pen pals and I can use her as a sounding board for new ideas. Her continuous stream of awesome innovations inspires me daily at https://sradentlinger.wordpress.com

  10. I have had the opportunity to observe Grant Boulanger at IFL15 in St. Paul in the summer (2015) and Grant is a master of fun, love, and structure behind all he does. His playful way is amazing and I have been able to incorporate that style into my teaching and my students go above and beyond in my class. Creating a class where learning is compelling, and students know that they are cared about is so vital to what we are doing with CI/TPRS. Grant has been named the 2015 Minnesota World Language Teacher of the year and he deserves it. I have found Grant to always be helpful in his blog and as always present as he speaks with at conferences (ACTFL15, IFL15), making me feel “like the most important person” in the room. He has a quote posted by his desk in his classroom by Tolstoy which I have also printed out for my classroom as well. It’s on his blog. http://www.grantboulanger.com/blog/ It’s called the three most important things. “The most important time is now. The present is the only time over which we have power. The most important person is whoever you are with. The most important thing is to do good to the person you are with.” I go home everyday actually enegerqzed after a day of teaching (4 preps!), and I really have Grant’s style and philosophy to thank!

  11. My high school Spanish teacher senor Reid inspired me to travel, to be a better version of myself, and now to be the best teacher I can be! He didn’t teach with TPRS or CI but his impact on my language skills and my life skills made a huge difference!

  12. I had the opportunity to observe Grant Boulanger at IFL15 this last summer in MN (2015) and Grant is a master at teaching in such a playful and loving way. yet he is structured at the same time as he always has a reason for how and why he says and teaches students in a certain way (which he often shares on his blog http://www.grantboulanger.com or in person) and I have been incorporating this playful, loving style and I can honestly say that at the end of the day (with 4 preps!), I actually feel energized. My students go above and beyond daily and learning a ton. Teaching in this compelling, and ‘loving’ type way is so vital to what we are really attempting to do with CI/TPRS. Grant has been named The 2015 Minnesota World Language Teacher of The Year” and he definitely deserves it! I have had the opportunity to speak with Grant personally at IFL15 and ACTFL15 and he always makes me feel that “I’m the most important person” in the the room. He has a quote written by Tolstoy which he keeps posted near his desk in the classroom which sums up his wisdom and philosophy. (One can print it at his blog under the tab ‘free stuff’ (http://www.grantboulanger.com ) It’s “The Three Most Important Things” and here it is: “The most important time is now. The present is the only time over which we have power. The most important person is whoever you are with. The most important thing is to do good to the person you are with”. Grant’s philosophy of ‘how to be’ with students has greatly influenced how i choose to show up each day in the classroom.

  13. My German professor at Westmar College, Dr. Harriet Semke, is my role model for world language instruction. Her methods used in the ’70s were the precursor to the CI that I’ve been using.

  14. My high school Spanish teacher, Señora Blythe, has been a constant source of inspiration for me throughout my teaching career. Even after she retired from teaching, she loves to exchange new ideas on how to improve instruction.

  15. Carole Baker not only was my Spanish teacher and gave me a love for the language and inspired me to become a teacher, but later she was my coworker and I saw how dedicated she was to doing what was best for students. She also was the one who introduced TPRS to our department by attending a Blaine Ray workshop and then trying it out in her classroom first. It spread to our entire department and we have continued with it for many years!

  16. I was inspired to become a teacher by so many of my own teachers growing up. Darrel Braman made me love science in middle school, Dave Norman was a super band teacher, and Jan Nelson and Tracy Galloway introduced me to my love of Spanish, and taught me that it’s okay to be silly and use a second language! I’ll also give a shout out to Sue Spivey, who was my mentor teacher when I student taught. She was always looking for new ideas, and wasn’t afraid to take risks. She also introduced me to something called “TPR,” back in the day, before TPRS and CI were “hip!”

  17. The foreign language staff at MDS, my first school. They all used tprs and gave me the inspiration to use it myself.

  18. Teri Weichart is the person I want to say “Gracias” to! About 10 years ago, I was not happy with the way things were going in my classroom, so I went to OFLA and ended up in Teri’s TPRS session. I was very interested about the method, so I talked to Teri and she invited me to her classroom to observe her in action and, needless to say, I was amazed! She was only using French and her kids were understanding what she was saying! Not only that, I was also understanding a lot and I didn’t know any French! That day, I decided to change the way I was teaching. Teri told me about a 3 day workshop in Ohio, so I went and I learned the basics of TPRS from Susan Gross (and also met Gary DiBianca and MIchelle Kindt – this was the start to my PLN and many wonderful friendships!). That summer I got a new job and my new principal allowed me to use only TPRS/CI in my classroom and I have done it ever since. For the last 10 years, Teri has been my friend, my support and the best mentor I could ever ask for. Teri, thank you for everything you have done for me, I love you! Merci beaucoup!

  19. I´d like to give thanks to Carol Gaab — I had started to learn about CI/TPRS through your blog, and decided to see it first hand at the Ohio Foreign Language Association. I went to a workshop by Carol Gaab and my mind was BLOWN AWAY! Ever since this day I have been learning all that I can about how to implement CI/TPRS and attending professional development. I am very thankful for all of the resources that Carol and others have created that are offered on TPRStorytelling.com, as I use many of the novels– and my students love them! Others that have also helped patiently guide me throughout the past two years are Gary DiBianca and Teri Weichart. Thank you Carol, Gary, and Teri, and to all that give back and help others in CI/TPRS!

  20. Carol Gaab and Jalen Waltman are two educators that have helped me become a better Spanish teacher. I saw Carol Gaab present at ACTFL and was blown away. This was before I really understood what CI was. I saw how passionate she was about teaching and helping language learners succeed. Anytime I hear her present, or read her newsletter, I learn so much about how to teach a language better.

    I’ve never met or seen Jalen Waltman but I use her stories to teach Spanish to my middle school students. Her stories and lesson plans are fun and compelling for me and the students. Thank you Carol and Jalen!

  21. i have to say that my first inspiration for Spanish learning came from my first Spanish teacher, Señora Barba back in high school. I never thought I would be a teacher back then. Since I became a teacher, I have not had anyone at either of the schools that I worked at who inspired me but I have been following you, Martina Bex and Sarah Cottrell at Musicuentos for several years now. The two of you as well as the girls at the CreativeLanguageClass blog and Zachary Jones. I get so many ideas from all of you. Thanks for all the sharing that you all do!

  22. I want to shout out to Steve Till. He was my introduction to CI/TPRS at our high school. He was instrumental in getting Von Ray to lead a two-day workshop. One of the most humble, kind-hearted teachers I’ve worked with in 19 years. I wish I had 1/2 his energy!

  23. It’s hard to come up with just one or two people! Dr. Charles O’Keefe was one of my French professors at Denison University. Apart from teaching great courses, he was involved with getting the department to try the Dartmouth Intensive Language Model during my senior year. Several senior French majors, myself included, assisted with this, and it was the first time I thought that teaching a French class might be fun (even though I showed no signs of acting on this tidbit of information until many years later). During some dark days, Charlie assured me that I mattered, and it has been a blessing to be able to share my teaching experiences with him as I progressed through substituting, education coursework, job-hunting, and my current position. Everyone should have a Charlie O’Keefe in his/her corner!

    A wonderful blog for French teachers especially (but potentially useful to all) is Madame’s Musings by Lisa Shepard (madameshepard.com). The Ohio Foreign Language Association (OFLA) has a program which pairs a new teacher (me) with an experienced teacher (Lisa), and I am very grateful for her advice and insights!

  24. There are so many from my 12 year journey to now but it all began with a Fluency Fasy class taught by Mary Holmes. By the third day I couldn’t believe how much I understood and could do and spent the better part of the mornings lesson trying to figure out what kind of magic she was spinning. She spent the lunch break telling me all about Blaine Ray and tprs, and wrote down book titles I should have. I hooked up with a local PLC and dove in feet first on the first day of school that year, never looking back. So thank you to Mary for that life-changing Spanish class, and also my friends Marji LaBella and Diane Nickerson who led that PLC 🙂 I would not be where I am without you!!!

    1. Hooray for Fluency Fast!!! How did you come about the class–was it a class for teachers designed to introduce the method, or did you take it to improve language skills, or…?

  25. Allison Weinhold @ Mis Clases Locas has impacted my teaching through her blog. She has so many wonderful ideas that I use everyday. She also shouts out other great teachers of world languages who blog. I have found so many useful ideas from all of you guys posts. Also I love her organization. Her blog was the first place I found out about TPRS. As I begin my journey of being a great CI teacher I will be continously referring to the many posts that she makes! Also shout out to Blaine Ray, Karen Rowan, and the wonderful lady that created this site that does not want you to mention her name but I do believe some ego stroking is well deserved to you as well!!!!Feliz navidad

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