Yesterday, I was honored to sit at the table of a world language teaching GIANT. The recipient of Iowa World Language Association’s (IWLA) Educator of the Year, a Golden Apple winner, and now finally the holder of a Distinguished Service Award from IWLA, Larry Pace is worth so much more than the accolades he has accumulated over his 41 year teaching career. I cannot begin to count the number of individual lives and families he has affected over those years. I am so lucky to call this man my colleague, my mentor, and mostly important my friend.
My wish for you is that you find your own Larry Pace. I hope you find someone who makes sure to say good morning to you before students come in, and someone who is concerned when you called in sick. I hope you find someone who makes you feel smarter and stronger when you are able to spend time together. I hope you have someone with whom you can discuss your students’ strengths and weaknesses, instead of gossiping about and/or with your students. I hope you find someone that can offer you seasoned advice, while still supporting your own wild classroom endeavors. I hope they inspire you to be an excellent educator. I hope you find that your mentor is your partner in crime and mutually respects you.
Here are all of the lessons that Larry has taught me in our very short 4 years together:
- Choose your students over administration, other teachers, etc. Always.
- Care about your students.
- Listen to your students. Genuinely listen.
- Build deep, albeit professional, and caring relationships with your students.
- Advocate both for your students and to your students.
- Teach your students to advocate for themselves.
- Encourage your students to love reading, regardless of language.
- Invoke passion from your students for your content area.
- Open your students’ minds to Spanish-speakers within the community.
- Travel with your students to foreign lands.
- Hook students with culture.
- Teach your students the value of service.
- Promote what your students are doing from both within and outside the classroom.
- Support other world language teachers because teachers already have it hard enough.
- Involve yourself in meaningful organizations, such as the IWLA.
- Share your successes and failures with others.
- Advance your education with graduate coursework, preferably in your content area.
- Thank those who have made you great.
Thank you, Larry. Thank you for everything. I hope I can mold at least half of the lives you have.