When you are the only language teacher at school, and you are new to the role as well, and there is no such thing as a language teachers’ network in your borough, I can assure you that it can be a very lonely role!
Before summer last year, I started looking for CPD training courses for my new role as a Spanish teacher and luckily, I found different courses on the Network for Languages website that were very well suited to my needs. I enrolled on one such course lead by Anne Farren. During the workshop, she mentioned that a new project called London School Excellence Fund (LSEF) Project had just begun and was looking to recruit language teachers who wanted to be supported and mentored through action research. Without any doubt, I said: I’m in! Count on me!
Paperwork and future courses, conferences and important dates were saved on my calendar. I just started to flourish from these new professional learning experiences!
My first meeting with my mentor, who was charming, was full of positive feedback! But I still felt very helpless since I came from a newly created school – all policies needed to be written from scratch, and I was responsible for the Languages policy! However, in just a few hours after this first meeting with my mentor, I received a few examples of policies in my email inbox.
A week later, I had developed the first draft of our school’s Language Policy. My mentor, Anne Farren, reviewed it and provided very useful feedback. After my head teacher had approved it, the policy was shared with the rest of the staff.
This is just one example of how our mentors supported us in the LSEF Project, how effectively they worked and how useful their support was to participants in meeting their needs. Of course, the policy will need to be reviewed in two years’ time, but the skills and the resources are in place now: I now know how to create a Language Policy and I feel confident to revisit it when the time comes.
No teacher in London has an excuse to feel alone and insecure anymore! The extraordinary network created by the LSEF Project covered all areas, interests and settled the worries of the participants during 2014-15. However, I believe that this is just the beginning of a growing network that I am sure will attract more and more language teachers in London, who are gaining responsibilities as foreign language teaching is being taken more seriously in schools in England.
Written by Mònica Pérez, Minerva Academy, City of Westminster – London School Excellence Fund Project participant (LSEF)
Mònica’s main teaching experience has been in the UK. She started teaching Spanish language clubs and later she had the opportunity to develop a thematic approach to language learning. Mònica is doing a Masters at the IoE (UCL) and has recently moved to Cambridge where she still teaches Spanish. Mònica is a good ambassador of Barcelona and has a great passion for teaching languages with technology.