The countdown has begun! Ok who am I kidding, the count down has been ongoing since mid February but nonetheless the end is in sight! I don’t know about you but the closer to the end the faster is all seems to fly! SO here’s three things I think you HAVE to do before you blink and your time is gone!

Get feedback

You have just spent a year together. No one is better suited to give you feedback than the people you have been with day in and day out. The vast majority of your students will give you meaningful feedback. What worked best? What could I do better? What advice would you give to future students of mine? If you could tell me anything what would it be? No names, no identifying content just feedback.

Teachers get told all kinds of things and many messages are mixed. Administrators, parents, colleagues all provide us feedback based on a variety of motivations. The most critical feedback we can get is that from our students. They see us at our best and unfortunately some days, less than our best. We are human and they get that. So if you are serious about growing your practice, ask. They will tell you and are often brutally honest. I think is the greatest compliment they can give us – honest feedback on our practice. If we are really in it for kids and making a difference than their voice matters. All of their voices matter in making us better.

Choose Gratitude

This has been on heck of a year. I am not sure it matters where you teach but the odds are you may not have had a year quite like this before. If this was the best year even, Great! If it was less than the best year ever, it’s ok too. Reflecting over the year intentionally focusing on gratitude can dramatically shift your perspective. It may be a year you are all too happy to bid farewell. Let’s take a few minutes to be grateful for what the year has offered. Consider the following first and foremost, have you been gainfully employed? Have you had the opportunity to interact with energetic and often independent students? When reflecting over the year, what moments bring a smile to your face? There are so many moments. It is easy to focus on the negative and the things that went wrong but it is behind us now.

At this point the greatest way to honor yourself and your students is by learning from your experiences this year. I encourage you to sift through the year to find the treasures, those lessons you can take away from the experience, the information you can use to evolve in your practice, those moments that have marked you. It isn’t a question of whether it the situation was for better or worse, it is about what you do with the experiences. What will you decide to do with the experience? I encourage you to be grateful for the year, just as it was. Grow from the experience this year. Evolve. Be better. You are the most important project you will ever work on. Choose to be thankful for the opportunities to grow this year, to evolve your practice.


Being a teacher can certainly be a rewarding job, no doubt. The degree to which the job is rewarding relies completely on our perspective. It is easy to having a sunny perspective at the beginning of the year. The newness of preparing for a new group of students to the new supplies and the orderliness of everything is, magnificent. As the year goes on at some point the chaos ensues and reality sets in. We get tired because if you are a passionate teacher you probably spend countless hours outside of the school day preparing. I’m not advocating that we do this or even condoning it, it just happens. If it is brining you joy, have at it! Nonetheless every year has ups and downs. We love our students and we may dream of being stranded on an island alone all in the same year. It doesn’t mean that we don’t love our students, our school or our job. It means we need to recharge! Hopefully you have system in place that allows you to recharge throughout the year. The summer “break” however allows us to plug-in to ourselves and our needs; to make memories with our children, families and friends. It is of the utmost importance that you find ways to recharge. Reflect, read, meditate, play, adventure, swim, hike, bike, run, watch movies, binge watch Netflix; DO SOMETHING THAT RECHARGES YOU! Be a learner. Try something new. Visit somewhere special. New experiences will help you to recharge your batteries, feed your soul. It doesn’t have to be full-time. It doesn’t need to be the only thing you do but it must be part of what you do this summer. Find something that fulfills you and do it!

Yes it has been a long year full of ups and downs and many memories. As this year draws to a close, be sure to honor yourself. Honor your dedication to the profession by growing. Solicit feedback from your students to help you grow! Put a bow on the year by focusing on the positive – choose gratitude. Let’s be grateful for our experiences this year. Each and everyone has helped make you the awesome human you are today! Finally rest, explore, be inspired in order to RECHARGE your batteries. You are the best project you will ever work on!

Published by Alyssa Villarreal

Alyssa Villarreal, is the President of Advance Learning and World Language Coordinator for Shelby County Schools (SCS) in Memphis, TN. Ms. Villarreal holds two masters degrees (Curriculum and instruction and educational leadership). As the World Language Coordinator for Shelby County Schools (SCS), she coordinates the district’s language program, which includes programs in eight languages including Spanish, French, German, Russian, Latin, Japanese, Arabic and Chinese. Ms. Villarreal has written and directed three successful Foreign Language Assistance program (FLAP) grants in her nine-year tenure in SCS. The first was to build a K-12 Russian program and was received in 2007. She was one of eight World Language Coordinators nationally to receive a 2008 FLAP grant to build K-12 global villages in Japanese, Arabic, Russian, and Chinese. In addition to her district duties, she has worked as the Foreign Language methods instructor for the University of Memphis. She has served as program director of three STARTALK programs for Memphis City Schools, consultant to other STARTALK programs and a STARTALK site visitor.

In addition to her district duties, she has worked as the Foreign Language methods instructor for the University of Memphis. She is currently serving as President of the National Association of District Supervisors of Foreign Languages (NADSFL) and was named the 2012 NADSFL Supervisor of the Year.

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