We welcome Sharon to our group:
My name is Sharon Reiter and I signed onto this community this August (2012). I am just returning to the classroom after six years of retirement. I teach Spanish 1 and 2 to high school juniors and seniors in rural West Tennessee. I was born in Oakland, California, and grew up in the Bay Area, where I took 3 years of high school French, which I LOVED! Languages and diverse cultures have always been my first love and even in my youth I was grateful to be living in the melting pot of northern California. When I graduated from high school, it was only due to finances that I did not pursue a college degree in language.
Fast forward to age 45 and I am living in Tennessee when I entered college and elected to pursue Spanish. (Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks!) I felt I could readily use the language as I witnessed here an influx of Spanish speakers. It was a rocky beginning because my teacher at the community college was really an English teacher with a Spanish minor who was persuaded to teach Spanish. (That scenario is a common occurrence here.) It was by sheer determination that I advanced through the courses after I transferred to a four-year institution. It took me six years to achieve some semi-ease with the language which my best students of TPRS demonstrate in one semester of exposure. THAT alone has convinced me of the power of this method!
At age 50 I stepped into the professional world as a teacher of Spanish, teaching in the only way I knew; that is, as I had been taught. Believe me, even I WAS BORED! Then around 1995-96 I received a mailing about a Blaine Ray workshop in Dallas, Texas. Everything changed; in spite of my being a lousy TPRS teacher, teaching Spanish became fun! What is more, I found all the repetitions necessary for the students only helped to improve my Spanish. All the credit to my enduring that first lonely year must be given to Shirley Ogle who had assisted at the Blaine Ray workshop. She PATIENTLY and MAGNIFICENTLY responded to my almost daily email’s!
From the very beginning however, I have had the luxury of being THE language department. In rural West Tennessee there are no exit tests or district markers. The administration does not care that I do not use a textbook; they are grateful to have a certified, so called “highly qualified” teacher of a foreign language in their system (that means I have a piece of paper that says “degree”). As I have indicated, FL teachers are in very short supply in this area. After I retired six years ago, I spent the following two and a half years traveling back and forth to the high desert country of Nuevo Leon, Mexico. There I connected with a Franciscan mission, teaching one-on-one illiterate adults and children to read.
I had no intention of returning to the classroom; in fact in the spring of 2011 I was asked by a local district superintendent whose Spanish teacher was about to retire, if I would consider teaching again; my negative reply was adamant. Then over the following months several events occurred which I now view as God’s way of grooming me for what was to come. This past July I received an urgent phone call from another local school district. Their Spanish teacher was terminally ill, would I consider helping them out? This time, my reply was that I would be willing to TALK about it. So HERE I am, not a full-time teacher, but with my OCD teacher-personality, I might as well be! But again, I have definite advantages. As a retired teacher, on a special State contract, something about the district not being able to locate a qualified teacher, I do not have to be concerned with classroom observations, extra teacher duties, nor most in-service days. What is more, I am impressed with the administration at this school. I just need to get over my OCD and this perpetual gnawing to be the best that I can be, which are what brought me to this community.