Putting Empowerment into Practice

By Meriwynn Mansori, Manager of Instructional Services and Former Language Teacher, VIF International Education
If you’re a social media-savvy language educator hungry for creative ways to engage a new generation of students, chances are good that you’ve heard of Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell and Laura Sexton.
Cottrell and Sexton form part of a small but important teacher-led movement to improve outcomes in U.S. world language classrooms. As two of the moderators of #langchat, they meet up on Twitter most Thursday nights with other engaged world language educators.
Their professional collaboration began thanks to social media —“I stalked [Sara-Elizabeth’s] blog,” Sexton jokes — and has grown into a partnership and friendship that has allowed them to co-present at conferences and teach summer professional development workshops for world language teachers.
As a curriculum and instructional designer, I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with them in the development of innovative classroom resources and professional learning for world language teachers. I sought them out personally after reading their blogs, knowing that their teaching philosophy and expertise would provide key insights to my project. Sexton has been a leading voice in promoting inquiry in the world language classroom. Cottrell coaches teachers on the value of pursuing proficiency and helps teachers plan lessons that support that outcome.
In addition to advocating for great language learning experiences, Cottrell and Sexton are part of another movement as well — one that allows educators to use their expert voices to advocate for their colleagues and professionalize teaching.
In their blogs and on Twitter, they show up as those “critical friends” that we all need to grow personally and professionally. Their willingness to experiment, to challenge the status quo, and to reflect on what has worked for them — and what hasn’t — gives other teachers the courage to take risks, which is an essential part of professional empowerment.
This post is part of a blog series titled “Professional Development: Learning Through Collaboration” produced in  partnership with VIF International Education (@vifglobaled). Join the conversation on Twitter using #collaborativePD. For more, check out Professional Development: Learning Through Collaboration and:

Meriwynn Mansori is the Manager of Curriculum at VIF International Education. Follow her on Twitter: @Meriwynn.

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