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My name is Catherine and I also go by Cati to some friends, just one glimpse into the perpetually confusing bilingual life that I lead. My content area is Foreign Languages and the foreign language I am currently able to teach is Spanish; the idea is to add others to that list in the future! This year I will be working with Bobby Oliver in Grafton High School in his Spanish II and AP Spanish classes.

It took time to decide that I wanted to teach Spanish at the high school level, even though I've always wanted to be a teacher. Leaving William & Mary as an undergraduate, I considered various career paths and I mostly felt confused about what I wanted to do next. Fortunately, I was able to leave the somewhat stressed environment that we create around such questions in the U.S. and live in Peru all of last year on a scholarship. While there, I relaxed enough to realize that what I wanted to do (work with people, encourage people, speak Spanish, avoid office spaces at all costs) and what I am good at doing (working with people, encouraging people, speaking Spanish...sometimes, and avoiding office spaces) in fact combined for a beautiful synergistic conclusion. I love when that happens!

I want to teach in order to impart a new language, because I think that languages open doors like nothing else. My life has been dramatically changed for the better by my proficiency in the Spanish language. My capacity to work with others, particularly to leave my comfort zone to better understand the experiences of marginalized groups of people (both within and outside of the U.S.), has particularly increased with this knowledge. The perspectives, experiences, relationships, and adventures afforded me by my proficiency in the Spanish language are countless and I am absolutely thrilled at the thought of facilitating a learning process for others that might lead to similar growth and transformation.

I also want to teach to open doors to new cultures by telling stories, to challenge students to think outside their "bubble," and to create spaces for them to interact with new people. My dream is to take students abroad with me to interact with community members in another country so that they can see how the world opens up and how relationships are possible through a shared language. Inside and outside of the classroom, I want to create experiences that are potentially transformational for my students, if they are open and willing to participate. I also want to maintain a balanced perspective -- remembering what I can do and what is outside of my control -- and somehow achieve a level of caring without letting it consume me.

I hope that as a teacher, I have a small role in transforming lives; I hope to affect my students through advice, example, and consistently high expectations of them. I want to create a space where students feel challenged, encouraged, believed in, pushed, appreciated, accepted, and supported. I want students to consider bigger questions and I want to get out of the way so that they can do that. My biggest hope is that students will leave my class and our school to go out into the world maybe just a little more more open-minded, more culturally sensitive, more environmentally conscious, more self-confident, more accepting of others, maybe empowered by their language skills, cultural knowledge, and a belief in the power of change. Then I hope that they will actively do their part to make this world a better place, since we can all only do a little bit. Basically I want to change the world by teaching, trusting that teaching people is an incredibly important and influential job and that I will touch at least one student a year in a positive way. (I wouldn't complain if it was more of them!)

My fears are numerous but chief among them are: that I will not be able to transform apathy into interest, that I will fail to demonstrate to students why languages or anything else are relevant or important, that I will not be able to detach and distance myself from failures and students' challenges. I am also afraid of burning out, but I am actively brainstorming ways to structure my life and approach to teaching so that will not happen!

Picture: July 2007 in a market in Cusco (Quechua name Q'osqo) in central Peru, the heart of the former Inka empire. Those hats are standard, and no, I never bought one.