Introducing Toni Theisen (Episode 22)

Picture of Toni Theisen holding dog with shirt with dog picture

“A person has to look at their beliefs and their bias a lot. And you have to keep examining that, and when you confront your own bias and put yourself in an uncomfortable situation, you have to think about how do I feel and how am I reacting? I want to be a good listener because listening, I can understand, and then I can open up new stages of dialogue and ask new questions to make things even better for those programs and the students involved.

My guest for Episode 22 is Toni Thiesen. Toni is an extraordinary listener – and thinker, advocate, educator, leader, and champion for inclusion in education and society.

She’ll invite you out of your comfort zone! But she is already standing outside of that zone herself, so she’ll walk and talk with you as you explore the ways in which you, like she, can contribute to the welcome, inclusion, and empowerment of all people, especially those who are most likely to be marginalized and underserved.

Toni Theisen’s Bio

Toni Theisen is currently the Loveland, Colorado, Thompson School District World Language and Dual Language Immersion Programs Specialist.  This position offers many opportunities to build the language roadmap for our district and to provide services for all groups of language learners from heritage and native learners to a K-12 dual language program, to FLES programs, to ASL and to grades 6-12 World Language courses, including AP and IB language programs.  Theisen also taught French in grades 6-12 for 40 years.

Toni was 2013 ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) President and the 2009 ACTFL National World Language Teacher of the Year. Theisen is a National Board-Certified Teacher with a M.A. in Foreign Language Teaching Foreign Language Teaching with a specialty in French and a M. A. in Education of Diverse Learners. She is also a Google Certified teacher.

Very active in the world language profession, Toni has presented many workshops, keynotes and webinars for international, national, regional, and state conferences and has authored articles and presented on Multiple Intelligences, Differentiated Instruction, Social Justice, Culturally Responsive Teaching, Technology for the World Language learner and strategies that help design standards and proficiency-based curriculum and assessments.  Toni presented “Activating Communication” as part of the first ACTFL Webinar series.  She works with the California Foreign Teachers’ Association Summer Seminar as part of the instructional team for the Title VI STARTALK Teacher Leadership Program.

Toni has also participated on many committees including the revision of the World Languages teacher standards for licensure.  She served on the Colorado World Language Task Force for the 2018 Revision of the Colorado World Language State Standards and she chaired the committee for the development of the Colorado World Languages Academic Standards. She served on the committee for the National Board for Professional Teacher Standards and was the co-chair for the revision committee of the NBPTS Teacher Standards for WLOE. She chaired the ACTFL 21st Century Skills Map committee in collaboration with the Partnership for 21st Century Learning.

Toni served as President of the Colorado Congress of Foreign Teachers (CCFLT). As an ACTFL Executive Board member, Toni served as the program chair for two ACTFL conferences.  She was also the Local Chair for the CSC (Central States Conference), SWCOLT (Southwest Conference on Language Teaching) and CCFLT Joint Conference and the Program Chair for the Central States Conference. 

Toni has received many honors including the ACTFL Nelson Brooks Award for the Teaching of Culture, the ACTFL Florence Steiner National Award for Leadership in Foreign Language Education, K-12, the JNCL (Joint National Committee on Languages) J. David Edwards Power of Advocacy National Award, The Colorado Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the SWCOLT Excellence in Teaching Award, the Genevieve Overman Memorial Service Award from the Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers, and the both the CCFLT and SWCOLT Honorary Lifetime Member Award.

Toni Theisen lives in Colorado where she loves to garden, swim and hike. Toni rescues adult and senior dachshunds, and Liza Jane is the latest wiener dog to steal her heart.

Toni invites you to e-mail her at theisent @ gmail . com


  1. Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain by Zaretta Hammond
  2. We got this: Equity, Access, and the quest to be who our students need us to be by Cornelius Minor
  3. En Comunidad: Lessons for Centering the Voices and Experiences of Bilingual and Latinx Students by Carla España and Luz Yadira Herrera
  4. Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching and Learning by Sharroky Hollie
  5. Culturally responsive teaching: What you need to know A general introduction
  6. How a School Puts Culturally Responsive Teaching Into Practice by Sarah Gonser
  7. Getting Started With Culturally Responsive Teaching by Nikki Williams Rucker
  8. Learning for Justice (formally Teaching for Tolerance)
  9. Social Justice Standards

To learn more about previous guests on It’s About Language or access other episodes of the podcast, visit It’s About Language or click on the Podcast tab above.

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