One of the questions I get asked all.the.time. is, How did a French teacher get into technology?! This question is always asked with a tone of wonder and disbelief, as though only a certain type of teacher uses technology, and French teachers do not fit that mold.
What would surprise them more is if they took the time to know exactly how far my journey was. As a child growing up, I lived in a single-parent household. Neither of my parents had graduated from college and we lived below the poverty line down the street from local housing projects. I vividly remember getting a word processor in 11th grade and being excited to not have to use a typewriter anymore. The fact that most of friends had early DOS computers didn’t bother me. My paper didn’t have to be separated LOL.
In my first two years of college, my work study job was at the campus library and it was my first REAL access to computers and the Internet. I remember using the WWW Yellow Pages to look up websites for places like Disney World, Paris, The National Park Service, and all kinds of other places...back in the day when the Internet had yellow pages because search engines weren’t much of a thing.
My next jump in access was my junior year of college when I saved up and bought my first computer with my mom’s help. I remember being so excited to have the opportunity to talk to REAL LIVE FRENCH PEOPLE through AOL Chat Rooms and then a few years later, indulge my Harry Potter obsession with a Yahoo! Message board called “Harry Potter for Grown Ups” (what was I thinking?! I was only 22 - not even CLOSE to a grown up!).
Around the same time as I joined HP4GU, I started my first year teaching. I realized that my students often had questions about the work we were doing but had no way to contact me right away (I didn’t check email then the way I do now). I created a brand-new AIM account that was just for them. They could message me through AIM and I would be able to answer instantly (or at least soon)! I still talk with one of my students to whom I explained relative pronouns and indefinite relative pronouns using the two guys with whom she was involved as a way to make it understandable.
This was the same time as Napster. I couldn’t travel to France every week to buy new French music, but I could download it on Napster and then introduce it to my students. While we loved the old classics, it was fun to see who could find the best new song to share in each class. I also joined another Yahoo! message board for French teachers, which allowed me to gain experience and ideas from teachers all over the world, even before the days of Twitter. They recommended resources, teaching suggestions, and advice for testing beyond ABCD.
You see, technology helped me grow as a French teacher and helped me offer new experiences and challenges to my students. It was a natural step to then decide more about actually learning ABOUT the technology I was already using. It took me 12 years to make that step and now, 7 short years later, here I am. Still learning, still growing. But just like technology, my growth is exponential and won’t stop. Everything I learn makes it easier to learn the next new thing. I hope you feel that way too.
Sorry that I’m late in this post again, but I look forward to reading about your paths!