Promoting Your Program - The School Newsletter
I remember a particular question posed to me when I was interviewing for new positions last Spring... "What aspect of your work do you think you need to improve?" I was surprised how easily I was able to answer that question in the moment. Of course there are LOTS of things that I need to improve in my work. But this particular thing had been on my mind, for a few years running, as THE thing that I felt I was dropping the ball on each year: Marketing.
Normally I would cringe at the work "marketing" when it comes to the realm of education. Actually, I still do. And maybe "marketing" is not the word I want to use. Maybe "promoting to the public" describes it better. And what easier way to "promote to the public" than to submit to the school newsletter? I understand that more seasoned and/or disciplined teachers probably do this every chance they get.
It does seem simple and obvious: The language program (and sometimes individual students) gets a shout out and parents/community get to read about it. Nevertheless, it's one of those things that just never made it to the top of my priority list. Until this year.
As I write this, I realize that I should say that submitting to the school newsletter is not nearly as important as the positive reputation and goodwill that we generate with students, parents and administration by teaching well and building positive relationships. These stakeholders will be our biggest promoters/marketers if they see our work as worthy of promoting. I concur with Grant Boulanger when he says that a teaching approach based on engaging a community of students with personalized content that is communicated via the inclusive principle of Comprehensible Input and assessed in an equitable way will create a #NationofAdvocates who will speak up for and work on behalf of language programs in our schools.
And if you're already feeling comfy in the kitchen with Grant's hearty recipe for 90% retention and a robust language program (a big order to be sure), but you'd like to do a bit more to promote your language program, try submitting an article to your school newsletter. There's so much you could talk about: a story or character that you created or learned about with you classes (caution: inside jokes are inside jokes); a proficiency exam that will be proctored at your school; new books or resources acquired; community outreach and connections; an upcoming trip abroad; collaboration with other subject areas; personal or professional news about you (the teacher); recognitions/awards won by students; a new method or approach being piloted in your classroom/department. And the list could go on and on. I certainly plan on making this a habit in the future.