Spanish in the Valley

I taught Spanish and Business for ten years at Pine Valley Central, a little district that borders the one I’m in now.  Back in the day, I was able to obtain certification for the position after only 24 credit hours in Spanish. Business, I had to have 36 hours. I entered my Spanish classroom in 1990 clutching my college notes for dear life.

That meant I always felt inadequate in the content. When I finished my course work my professor said, “and now you go to Madrid.” My reply? “What should I do with the 2 year old who lives in my house?” Obviously, I couldn’t leave my daughter and husband for a year abroad.

I loved teaching in every imaginable way, but mostly I just loved my students. I always felt like a fraud, not fluent enough, not good enough. My students did very well on the State exams, but I never got over that feeling that I should be fluent. When I became a principal, it was a relief. I could just focus on the parts of the work that I knew I was good at, without feeling so inadequate.

Now we have the wonders of Facebook and other social media and I’m reconnecting with all of these amazing students who I taught in the nineties and the feedback I get from them is so positive and warm and caring that I wonder, if my Spanish had been perfect would I have been a better teacher?

Cause honestly, I’m thinking no matter how perfect my Spanish had been, my students wouldn’t likely remember any more of it than they do now. But they do remember me and how I treated them, how I listened to them, how I cared about them. We do our best with the content, what’s more important is that we do our best with the kids.

  1. As an educators I think we always wonder if we are doing enough or the best for the students we know we are impacting and influencing. And teaching is so much more than just the content, especially in subject areas like Spanish and Business. There are many interpersonal, communication and literacy skills that are critical elements of instruction in these areas. Subject areas like Foreign Language and Business challenge students to be reflective learners, promoting their own self growth, development and maturity while teaching them tolerance and understand for themselves and others.
    However, with teaching, you don’t see the success or impact of these components of your classroom on a day to day basis. These are the things you see years later when you learn of your students success and accomplishments. As a Spanish teacher myself, I’ve often had these similar thoughts….Is my Spanish good enough to be teaching it? Am I doing a good job with instruction? You learn the answers to these questions when you learn from former students that they have become Spanish teachers themselves or using foreign language in their chosen career. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that you impacted someone else in that manor……it’s almost an incomprehensible feeling.
    So, Mrs. Moritz, as one of your former Spanish students from the Valley, thank you for being a model of quality education!
    ¡Bien hecho! 😉

  2. Funny, I think about this at times with knowing the content like the back of my hand. We truly will never know it all. I know I will never know it all, but I realized something this past weekend at Educon that is very important when working with students and in the classroom. “Teach kids, not content.” I have a whole new outlook on things now when in the classroom. Yes, content is important, but their lives are more important. You make the connection, and the content follows. You have done that with those that you have come into contact with and it shows! : )

  3. Just thought I’d post. I’m the parent of children that you taught during your years at PV. My children were also freinds with yours, and I was on the board way back then. Time passes so quickly for both children and adults. They may not remember how to roll their tongues to make the correct sounds from your class, but yes they remember the experiences shared with not just you but your family as well. I am glad that my family had the opportunity to both work and play with yours. They say it takes a community to raise a child. I believe that in small town USA the school is the community and we all work together to do the best we can do for the short time we have. It always amazes me that even the people that seem to be the most confident in themselves have days when they just want to hide because they don’t feel like they measure up. It’s just good to hear them admit it from time to time. I only wish the best for you in whatever road you continue on in your life. Thank you for being a part of ours.

  4. After reading your blog, I feel the need to respond.
    You were one of the very few teachers who impacted my life while I was in school. I looked forward to your class not because I was eager to learn Spanish but because I enjoyed you.
    I remember crying in your class and you continued with the lesson but walked by and put your hand on my shoulder. I felt loved and I knew you cared.
    You could not have been a better teacher even if your Spanish was perfect. It wasn’t what you were teaching but the teacher you were.
    Thank you for impacting my life the way you did. You will never be forgotten. No matter what you do in your life Kim, you will bring happiness to those that surround you.
    I can only pray that my children will have the experiences with their teachers as I did you. Thank you for being you. Te Amo…Ginger 🙂

  5. I feel like you are describing myself! Although I’m confident in my subject area, I feel like there are days when I do less teaching about my subject and more teaching on how to be a contributing member of society and teaching life-skills. I really feel a connection with most of my students, and I’d be willing to bet that if I see them in five years they’ll bring up some obscure point I made in class about life in general, rather than rattle off the literary elements they learned and what they mean. Thank you for making me feel like I’m not crazy for feeling this way!

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