November 15 – checking it twice

114/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Most people have had coaches, mentors, teachers, leaders and others who have inspired them. Most of us also have had some that did the exact opposite but regardless – we have learned from them as well. Examples and non-examples of what we would like to aspire to as people are not only relatable but also powerful. I am most proud of being a teacher and I have outlined in past blogs some important people who have influenced my character which directly impacts my teaching. Another such person was only in my life for, at most, a couple of days but had a lasting impact on me that I only became aware of later in my teaching career. I studied French in Quebec City during a summer in the late 1980s and based on a 200 question multiple choice French language knowledge test, I was put into a class of Beginner 1s (15 levels and this was the lowest level). I was quite embarrassed as I had taken French up to grade 12 and thought I would have at least been place in an Intermediate level but I chalked it up to the fact that perhaps my BC education was quite different than the real French of Quebec. As I sat in the class with late teens/early adults from all over Canada and the US, I was stunned at the basics we were learning – “le” and “la”, “une, deux, trois…” etc. This was something I had learned back in Grade 8 but I rationalized it as a mandatory review. The instructor immediately became cognizant of my knowledge and understanding and approached me after class. She mentioned that she would like to keep me in the class but that this was not the right fit for me and that I would be wasting six weeks. She immediately called up the administrators of the program and scheduled an oral test the next day invigilated by herself and one other. Based on the results, I was placed in a mid-range Intermediate level class. She took it upon herself to investigate further and found my test and realized that I had skipped one question thereby throwing off all my multiple choice answers and resulting in the low score. At the time, I didn’t even think twice about what she had done for me as a learner but over the years in my own teaching, I realized just how much she did do to make learning relevant for me and even though it caused her extra work, she had her students’ best interests at heart – the true sign of an amazing instructor. Thank you for going the extra mile for me which has inspired me to do the same for my students. In your honour, my French language instructor, I check and double check things to make sure I’ve gotten it right.

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