2015 Teacher Workshops
During the summer of 2015, the first CULTR Summer Professional Development Workshops were held with much success. A total of 41 teachers, representing school districts throughout Georgia, arrived to participate in a variety of workshops aimed at helping language educators in the classroom. The multi-day workshops included topics covering second language acquisition basics, technology, and assessment.
Dr. Paula Garrett-Rucks, a Professor at Georgia State University, led the workshop titled “Enhancing your language instruction: SLA basics for teachers”. Underlining insights from the field of Second Language Acquisition, the workshop empowered language teachers to not only improve their craft, but to also help in developing strategies to reach even the most difficult students. Throughout this workshop, participants had the chance to develop skills in fostering and assessing student language production, all the while integrating intercultural understanding. A wide variety of tools and techniques were explored through demonstration, in-class activities, and group discussions.
The “Technology and Foreign Language Teaching” workshop, presented by Ed Cieslak of Duluth High School, emphasized an understanding of recent technological trends and implementation practices within the classroom. Throughout this workshop, participants had the opportunity to develop practical technology skills while increasing confidence to effectively utilize those skills on a daily basis. Each day of Mr. Cieslak’s workshop focused on a different platform including computer, A/V, and mobile to highlight each technology’s ability to highlight lecture content and promote student engagement.
Dr. Sara Cushing Weigle, a Professor of Applied Linguistics at Georgia State University, led the workshop titled “Assessment in the Language Classroom”. Since learning how to assess students effectively is a critical skill for educators, Dr. Weigle’s workshop provided participants an understanding of issues in designing assessment tools, the skills to align assessments with curricular goals and performance standards, and the knowledge to involve students in the assessment process. Furthermore, participants also had the opportunity to create assessment tasks directed to meeting their own classroom’s needs.
All three workshops were evaluated positively by participants with 93% of participants saying that they would likely or probably attend CULTR workshops in the future. Correspondingly, another survey highlighted 95% of participants likely or very likely recommending CULTR workshops to their colleagues. As the first CULTR summer workshops, the positive participant feedback showcases the program’s ability to not only understand the difficulties facing language educators but to actually highlight measures to solve those issues as well.
Moreover, areas in which the workshops were rated particularly highly included interactions with the instructor (average 3.75/4 on all three workshops), Instructor Knowledge (average 3.69/4). Relevance to Level (average 3.67/4) and Facilities and Parking (average 3.63/4). Certainly, these results indicate CULTR excelled across multiple facets of their 3-Day Summer Professional Development Workshops.
Looking to the Future
Even after a successful event, CULTR aims to consistently improve its Summer Professional Development Workshops to further assist foreign language educators in their classrooms. As the 2015 Teacher Workshops mark the first iteration of an annual series, we strive to improve through the following goals for upcoming workshops:
(1) Increasing participation in the workshops both in terms of total numbers and in terms of geographic reach
(2) Improving pre-workshop communication
(3) Working with potential workshop leaders to ensure that workshop content remains up to date and relevant to the needs of classroom teachers