“We know that we have some big challenges. We’re teaching languages in a face of a pandemic, a climate crisis, systemic racism, violence, bigotry, and a completely divided nation, so there’s no lack of work for us. We are uniquely positioned to make a meaningful impact through our schools and through our world because of the nature of language.”
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Lea Graner Kennedy (bio) brings laser-focused energy to everything she does, and a welcoming, expansive spirit that scoops up educators, students, administrators, parents, neighbors–heck, whole neighborhoods!–into her embrace and vision. And because Lea is a world language educator and leader, that vision is global. That vision, along with her energy and insights, are why I asked her to be my guest and to share her latest ideas and questions on this podcast.
Lea is always poised to ask, “Where do the next successes and promises lie? What are we going to miss if we don’t act now?” And right now, we are poised to win–or lose–a lot.
Humans have always depended on communication in order to connect with and learn and profit from others around the world: peoples of differing languages and cultures, differing ideas and values, differing skills and insights. In today’s globally interconnected world, however, both the pace and range of such connections have grown exponentially.
Since we know that education in general transforms lives and makes participation and contribution to society possible, we of the world language community are realizing more and more that our work and call is to far more than sheer language acquisition. We are being called to simultaneously educate students and families, legislators and those in business, organizations and societies on how we humans work and think, and how we humans can collaborate and communicate–or divide, compete, and choose to misunderstand.
World language educators have a sense of urgency. Our urgency is born of our observation that when communication happens at the speed of light, we need the foundations of what is said and the clarity and accuracy with which is expressed to be firm. Businesses, industries, governmental organizations all say that what they lack are employees that can communicate clearly, workers that know how to write and speak. Diplomacy succeeds or fails depending on the clarity and precision of what is heard, spoken, written, clarified–all this from within the cultural settings and perspectives in which the participants live. World language courses have always been about clarity of communication. But as the speed of global interaction increases, so does the need that communication be clearer and more accurate and culturally nuanced than ever.
World language education leaders are also aware that our pedagogical history is not blameless for the urgency in which we all, educators or not, now find ourselves. Some of you reading this and listening to the podcast have been in language classes which treated the living spoken and written languages like laboratory specimens to be dissected; you learned vocabulary in lists, grammar in charts, and syntax through analysis.
Some of you prospered nevertheless. But so many students did not, and you are perhaps one of these. The current lack of language and communication skills in this country is in part because of our failure over many years to embrace effective language acquisition methods. We educators are racing to catch up, too.
Catch up we will, with research shared, collaboration supported, and cross-disciplinary approaches that can finally unite human learning. When language and the challenging contexts in which communication are finally integrated, transformation can happen and hope blossom.
Enjoy the podcast.
Yes, @NorahLulicJones definitely has the talent of "bringing out" the best in others or allowing them to showcase themselves in the best light! Thank you for directing the spotlight on others who have great stories and talents to share with others.
Your podcasts are exceptionally relevant and applicable, thought-provoking and insightful, easy-to-follow and enjoyable!
You have an immense talent to draw the best from your participants.
Norah knows how to LISTEN - she really "hears" the message - and the interview is richer because of it. New questions come from the hearing.
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[Introduction of guest and the podcast]
Norah Jones: It’s my great pleasure to welcome all of you to what I know is going to be an exciting—and you might want to take notes—podcast here with my guest today, Lea Graner Kennedy. Hi Lea.
Lea Graner Kennedy: Hi Norah, thrilled to be here today.
Norah Jones: Well, it’s a joy to have you here. And when we set the stage for what folks are going to be able to hear about language, language education, language understanding, the purpose of language even, we want to make sure that folks know what a leadership role you’ve played in many, many organizations. And currently, being for the American Council and Teaching of Foreign Languages, we’ll call that ACTFL, the Education Senior Advisor. This is one of a large number of roles having to do with leadership and development of language educators. Lea, what is it that compels you to engage in the activity of working with educators in the world language field?
Lea Graner Kennedy: Well, thank you for having me today Norah, because one of the things that I think we’re so passionate about is learning together. And I think language educators are an incredibly passionate group. We’re really passionate about teaching languages and culture to our students, with the hope that they too will have the opportunity to travel, meet new people, be immersed in language with diverse communities all around the whole world. So I think one of my goals is to be able to work with both teachers and with students in the different roles that I have, in order to help people feel like they can continue to improve their practices, so that we can really develop the proficiency and intercultural communicative competence that we know our students need as they face these exciting and demanding challenges of our times.
Norah Jones: How do you, clarify, bring down to a concrete level so as to inspire language educators what the specific needs are for language education, and for their work as educators to be at a level of excellence and effectiveness?
Lea Graner Kennedy: Yeah, it’s a real challenge because teaching for proficiency is a very complex set of skills that we need. I think we’ve all started to work in the past decades towards teaching for proficiency and teaching for intercultural communicative competence. And so I think one of our ideas is to try to figure out how to take some of the research that ACTFL and other organizations have provided for us, and deconstruct it so that we can actually apply it to curriculum assessment and instruction within our different schools and districts.
Norah Jones: What are some of the challenges there? And while you’re doing it, help those that are not directly engaged with the concept of proficiency from an educational inside the classroom point of view, to understand what the purposes of speaking about and aiming toward proficiency are all about?
Lea Graner Kennedy: Well, I think we’ve all faced the challenge that many of us graduated from very traditional language programs where they didn’t have to solve real world problems as they were in the language classroom. And now we’re looking at ways to create tasks across the three modes of communication; the interpersonal, presentational and interpretive modes. But also across the four other goal areas, so that we can provide these opportunities for students to use the language for authentic purposes, using authentic resources, and really to delve into meaningful challenges that our students face.
I was in a class the other day where we had guest speakers coming in from Haiti, and the students were working with one of the UN SDGs [United Nations Sustainable Development Goals]: access to education. And when the students realized how these children in Haiti were not able to have access to education, 60% of the kids don’t make it through elementary school before they need to get to work. When they were communicating with those students and with these teachers that go down and volunteer in Haiti, they realized that it was communicating in French for a real purpose, about a really important social justice issue. The thought that kids wouldn’t have access to education was so upsetting to them and it really inspired them. This was a French I class who would be typically categorized as a bit more challenged at times, and yet they were so passionate about the work they were doing because it was something that was meaningful to them
Norah Jones: Meaningful. Now we have so many students and so many classes, and so many teachers with so many varied backgrounds and potentially instructional excellent skill sets, that is a powerful story to tell. How do you help educators to understand how they might work at bringing about such opportunities for their students?
Lea Graner Kennedy: Yeah. I think that many of us are facing curriculum renewal with a whole new lens right now. Norah, you and I just finished 10 days at the NECTFL conference. And looking at what was happening at Central States, and SCOLT and Southwest COLT and PNCFL, everybody was tackling this whole notion of social justice. Looking at it through multiple perspectives if you’re thinking about Central States, connecting and collaborating in order to make a difference. I think that there’s an opportunity for us to start building in these social justice standards into our units. I think that there are some really meaningful opportunities to bring in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, because those provide a way for us to take an existing unit and modify it in a way that we can really hook our learners. I think if we start to look at ways that the kids can construct meaning through the work that they’re doing in our class, it’s a respectful way to engage them and invite them into the learning
Norah Jones: Engagement and invitation. Before we go there, I want to head back to something about, this sounds like a moment for collaboration. And from what I’ve been reading in research, that while feedback is an extraordinarily important part of increasing excellence in programs, that collaborative work is even stronger. Can you address some of those areas, collaboration and feedback, for example?
Lea Graner Kennedy: Well, I think if we can get them thinking about ways to collaborate in a classroom, I think that gets the students excited. And I think from my perspective working with adults, getting teachers to work together to collaborate also gets us excited. So I think the notion of finding a thought partner is critical to moving forward. And if we think about putting collaboration at the center of our work with students and with each other, I just feel like we have this way of connecting that gets people more passionate and more enthusiastic about the work that they’re doing. They’re not going off and doing it alone. One of your former guest, Akash Patel [Episode 21], was a real source of inspiration for me after hearing your podcast. I actually reached out to him and said, “Would you be willing to collaborate with me on a big project that I’m starting?”
And he was thrilled to work with my young scholars, as you can imagine. And his whole energy that he brought to the conversation, got the students thinking about moving from this one-day event, which was going to be Global Climate Action Day, as a one-day event, where we are going to do research into the biodiversity, the challenges it faces, and the local and global action we can take across 39 countries that are both French- and Spanish-speaking. And the students said, “Actually, if we can collaborate with Akash and we can collaborate with other schools around the world, why can’t we make it our focus for the next year?” And all of a sudden, I thought, oh my gosh, this was just the event that we hosted on Friday. We had 235 students, we had 95 scholars presenting their research in the target language about biodiversity, the challenges it faces, and what we can do. Then we used the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the 170 action items that you can do across the 17 SDGs.
And the students said, “Well, now we want to start working with students.” Their hope was 39 countries. We might need to tighten that up just a tiny bit, but it was the collaboration with others and around a meaningful project that got them thinking, wait, we’re using French or Spanish to talk about what we can do here with intellectual humility. We’re not just turning and telling other countries what they need to do, we’re saying what we can do to be a part of the solution. And it was really eye-opening for me because it was the collaboration that got them so motivated to keep going. Now, the other thing that I want to mention is that, all of that work that was just done was done through my work as the advisor to the French Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society. So I have no grading over them, this is just because it’s meaningful work. There’s nothing I can dangle over their head to say, “Please do this.” They created videos, they created research scripts, they are reaching out to partners in other countries, and all of this is being done because they think it’s important. So that changes their focus, when they feel like they are part of an environmental issue and part of a UN SDG that goes beyond just a “assignment or a grade”.
Norah Jones: I don’t mean to bring any judgment sounding in this direction, but it is clear even from the way that you speak, that you are an energetic, creative, human. You have spoken about connecting up with Akash Patel, which as we know, he’s also energetic and creative human. We’ve got a lot of energetic and creative humans that are both educators and students, but some that are listening may feel in anticipation, overwhelmed over the idea of trying to, what they might consider, take all of this on. How do you Lea, with your leadership and the approaches that you have, look out at an array of educator and student types, but we’ll start with educators for just a moment here, and help to point out that they too can participate in such as this effectively as educators in language?
Lea Graner Kennedy: Yeah, I think you raise a really good point. I know, anytime I hear Akash speak, I find myself in awe and then all of a sudden you step back and say, “Oh my gosh, how could you possibly do this?” So I think that’s a really important thing to address because if we take on smaller size chunks that we can manage, and then we pull in a few thought partners to help us with it, I think it’s quite amazing what we can do. And so I think one of the things that you and I have talked about is, how could we continue to form these small personal learning communities where we can throw ideas out, get that feedback, but then also get people that help lighten the load for us so that it doesn’t seem so daunting? So for example, my thought partners with this project over the past two months were my students, the executive board members of the French Honor Society and of the Spanish Honor Society. And we came together and said, “What do we think that we could realistically pull off in two months?”
And so we did our planning over the two months and it was towards the end of that, that Akash came in all of a sudden and he said, “Well, actually, now that we see the importance of the work that we’re doing, we’d like to expand it to a year.” And so now all of a sudden you can start building upon it. I think that if we could come up with more ways for us to come together and support each other… We know that we have some big challenges. We’re teaching languages in a face of a pandemic, a climate crisis, systemic racism, violence, bigotry, and a completely divided nation, so there’s no lack of work for us. And Norah, you’ve talked about this for years, that we are uniquely positioned to make a meaningful impact through our schools and through our world because of the nature of our language and the World-Readiness Standards.
So, how can we take those standards and really bring them to life in full color? Brilliant standards that students really feel committed to. And when you partner those World-Readiness Standards with the Social Justice Standards, which have been really transformative for me in my learning this year, I’m just pulling off one or two of those standards with each of the units that I’m looking at and saying, “How can I modify existing curriculum just to make it that much more engaging to my students, and that much more engaging to my colleagues, so that we can all collaborate about something that really feels important?” But I think you’ve been saying this for years, Norah. And the question is, how do we come together to support each other? Because you’re right, we don’t want anybody feeling like this is a daunting challenge.
Norah Jones: And I think about, there are two areas here, one is about the nature of teachers who may consider that languages, well, we’ve chatted about this too, languages as a topic. And you are speaking here about the experience of language as a tool in life. So helping to transform that approach to what language even means to be about. That part, and then hold on to that, and add this. What from the experience of trying to educate young people in languages or any area for that matter, but we’re focusing on language and culture here, in the pandemic remotely, use of digital. In what ways has that provided additional tools, as well as additional challenges that can address helping teachers to grow and understand how to make these transformations?
Lea Graner Kennedy: Right. Your whole notion of using the language as a tool, I think gets us thinking a little bit more about the interdisciplinary approach, which has been another focal point for me recently with ACTFL, with Manuela Wagner, Fabiana Cardetti and Mike Byram’s work on the intercultural citizenship across the curriculum. Using that language as a tool in order to connect with math, in order to connect with the environmental science classes, in order to solve problems. I think that this course that ACTFL has offered has been a real opportunity for people to gain insight into how to partner up, so that it becomes interconnected into the curriculum for myriad reasons.
I have seen through the examples that teachers are sharing from Singapore, from Washington state, from California, that people are really trying to branch out and get not only their students to use as a tool, but to get the other content areas, to view it as a tool. So that their students can build some intercultural competence through the math and the science classes. Before this course, I would not have considered collaborating with the AP environmental science class nor with the regular science classes, but those were the participants who came to this Global Climate Action Day. And it was through Akash that he got me saying, “Think about all of the other scientists who could help you in this.” So then we were providing the linguistic and some of the cultural connections, and it was the science that was guiding us to connect in with some of the other SDGs and some of the other environmental research. Go ahead.
Norah Jones: No, you continue please.
Lea Graner Kennedy: So, yeah. But I’m just thinking that as we think about it as a tool, that gets us back to our whole notion of researching what is effective language pedagogy? And that has been a huge drive of mine through work with teachers, through work with ACTFL, through work with the TELL project. There are so many ways that we can start looking at, how do we get teachers to help these students actually walk away with a tool that can help them build both linguistic competence and intercultural competence? So I think that we, as a language community, have to keep coming together to keep looking at, what does that rich and extensive body of research look like. How do we tap into it to build curriculum, assessment and instruction for our learners? If we do it effectively, then our students graduate with that tool in hand.
And I would say as a 1989 graduate that did lots of translation and could tell you every verb chart in French, I did not leave with that tool. So what have we learned since the 1980s about research that shows what is going to help these learners build meaningful proficiency. How do we lead with those functions so that when we talk about what you can describe about biodiversity, and what questions can you ask and answer about the challenges to that biodiversity, and how can you share an opinion or a suggestion of an action that I should take locally or globally? All of those functions should be what’s driving us. And that, as we know, has been a big focus of Shantelle Thompson’s work, the worth of a language learner is based on the number of functions that they have. So how do we as educators really keep challenging our concepts of what effective education looks like, so that our learners really do graduate and have that tool at their disposal? Because I don’t know that we’ve delivered that in the past, at least in the past with the parents of the children that we’re educating at this time.
Norah Jones: Indeed. I think that this is very exciting and there are so many things, of course, that come up simultaneously thinking about this. How these standards, these approaches, these rememberings are presented to the folks that are engaged in education, such that they can make use of them collaboratively and begin to apply them in classes. I’m also thinking about some of those who are listening, who are in more isolated situations, where providing for collaborative opportunities with language colleagues is limited already. And perhaps there’s a sense of almost despair listening to the exciting possibilities, but not necessarily knowing where to go to be able to catch this wave. How do you see that Lea, unfolding with regard to providing opportunities for all educators to understand what this means and how to go about making it happen?
Lea Graner Kennedy: Norah, this is exactly the challenge that inspires me each day. I keep thinking we’re going to have a breakthrough, we’re going to somehow get to all educators. And I think if we can keep delving into this and try to figure out how we can transform our professional learning communities so that we have more language educators from every state, in a really inclusive way. So rural, urban, isolated, small districts like mine that only have nine language teachers across the entire system, to those communities that don’t support professional development because they simply don’t have the money for substitutes, so they don’t have coverage. So there has to be a way that we can touch in a way that will allow for that collaboration to happen, especially those who don’t regularly attend our state regional and national conferences.
So, over the past six or seven years, I keep delving into different projects. And CTLILL was one of them, the Summer Proficiency Institutes. And I keep reaching out to these gurus in our field saying, “Can we somehow tap your expertise, can we record you, can we get you interacting with the people who don’t normally get to see you because they don’t have the great fortune of being able to get coverage and money to get to a national conference?”
So this is what I’d love to explore with you, Norah. What other ways can we help some of these teachers find their voice and get into learning real PLCs, not the ones that are hoisted upon you because they’re mandated within your district, because we all have some of those that we have to face. But really in a way that people feel safe to take risks, that people feel safe to give and receive that feedback in order to move to the next level. And I think that we can go beyond the webinar, the conference session, the articles, the social media groups. We have a lot of things at our disposal, but what will it take to get to more of the teachers? So I’m wondering if you have thoughts on how we could expand that.
Norah Jones: Well, it’s interesting. Thank you so much for engaging that question because to open this discussion, to have this podcast continue to open up that, which you have been working with, and that both of us have been trying to bring to possibilities…
[Promotion of podcast and request for support]
Norah Jones: …it does strike me that there are so many tools. And you and I have chatted about the delivery systems that people will sometimes be just receiving. I’m probably baking cookies while I’m watching a webinar. I may or may not gain very much from it if I am not asked to participate in some way that then provides for feedback and encouragement, and challenge, and new information. I’m hoping that part of what we might consider includes a differentiation of the way that people can choose what level they would like to participate in as far as understanding. Some folks come with a strong experience of going to conferences and of thinking of these broader pictures, such as the Sustainable Development Goals that you have been mentioning several times. For others, it’s a brand new concept to just get past some of the basic linguistic items that are brought up in the curricular documents themselves, textbooks, et cetera.
So, to be able to have a sequence in which there’s an active digital component that allows for watching, but then negotiation of what was seen, opportunity to receive resources based on what’s been seen, and then action with the students and a chance for, as you say, safe feedback from colleagues. One of the questions that I have that’s right here, I’ll throw it right back to you Lea, is this, mentoring each other across district lines, states, nationally is something that many teachers are interested in doing, but it’s not necessarily well-received by say, administrators. I don’t mean to put a kibosh on it by that, but what are you experiencing then when we talk about collaboration, we talk about feedback and moving together. Have you seen district school administration being supportive of such things, have you ever seen any blockages?
Lea Graner Kennedy: Okay, so you have some great thoughts here. First of all, I want to go back to this whole notion of differentiation. I think that is absolutely the key. And having strands at conferences whether it’s a state level, I know we have done that in the past through NADSFL, through the National Association of District Supervisors, so that people can pick the path that seems to meet their needs. I think offering that differentiation through all of the different ways that we present the professional development, is really key. But I also love the fact that you were saying that, coming up with a way to make sure that that learning is active, that seems to be the real key. Peter Brown’s book, Make Learning Stick, had huge implications for the learning community. And it is the active engagement, it’s the application of the learning that really makes such an important impact as to whether it is going to stick or not.
So, I’m just thinking about, I went to all five of the regional conference sites, and we are looking at the sessions and looking at some of the resources that were left from each of the presenters. Is there a way for us to take that learning and then somehow provide an opportunity to have negotiation of meaning and action with students, and then come back together? In other words, Central States is over for 2021, they explored one vision, multiple perspectives. How can those people who learned at each of the sessions come back and share what they did with students as a result of the learning that took place?
Lea Graner Kennedy: I really think that would be a great way. And it could dovetail into some sort of mentoring situation, that if you have many states, have really successful mentoring programs, but more for new teachers and new supervisors. FLENJ has a great new supervisors program that Frank Ruggiero started as part of his LILL project. Many states have the new teacher mentoring, but what if you had some sort of mentoring that took place almost as a follow-up to the conference that you and I both attended Charlotte Gifford’s session? We both learned from Charlotte, we went back and we applied something in the classroom. What if there was a follow-up two months later where we could say, “Hey, this is what I tried.” And a sharing of what we did with our students, that could be a great way to extend the regional conferences.
Norah Jones: And when you said that too, imagine if sessions, maybe not all, maybe it’s more like the workshop where a person ahead of time understands the difference, but still be a state, regional, national, that there is a type of session where it is understood that the presenter that’s interacting with the folks that are currently present, but that there is a planned follow-up. And that the presenter himself, herself, themselves, are prepared to interact with, because you went to the world that just I’m dancing while I was listening to it, and that was negotiation of meaning. That phrase alone, just in the standards about interpersonal speaking was transformational to folks understanding that communication is about negotiation. But we’re also talking about negotiation of meaning culturally, negotiation of meaning emotionally, negotiation of meaning politically, negotiation of meaning and the understanding of what education is all about. And to provide that ongoing, say a two year framework, or at least one academic year of something where the presenter, those that attended, and those that wish to become involved, could then continue that interaction knowing that they would have this cohort of this session to depend on for at least a limited period of time.
Lea Graner Kennedy: Because what you’re talking about now is a learning cycle, Norah, because you’re talking about receiving input in a conference session. So maybe it’s 30 minutes, maybe it’s 60 minutes. I’m going to process as a learner, and then I’m going to be able to do something with that learning. And then to close that learning cycle, I need to have some sort of output. So in this case, you’re saying that it could be what you did with your students, and now you’re going to discuss it. You’re going to negotiate meaning with the other people who came and received the same input as you, and now we’re going to get feedback from that presenter. So I went to your session on Friday about actually looking at frequency dictionaries, and looking at the perspectives of language and the words that we choose, and how that has an implication on cultural perspectives. So now what if I make some changes based on what I learned from you, other people within that same group come back and then you provide feedback. So it closes the learning cycle for us.
Norah Jones: Yeah. And see, I found that very motivating. I was excited to do that session. I was hungry to have more. And I would be delighted if you were experimenting with something and you came back and you provided it to me and I’m like, “This is great.” And, “Oh, man, this is exciting.” And, “Thank you for sharing that.” And, “I didn’t know that.” And, “Let’s look together.” That excites me because I’m interested enough in this concept of corpus linguistics in this case, to continue that conversation with people that have a similar interest. And I didn’t have to go hunt them down too much, did I? I just put my session and next thing you know, I have folks nationally, regionally, state-wide, whatever, that are now engaged in this interest group with me.
Lea Graner Kennedy: Right. And I’m even likening it to what I’ve been working on with Paul Sandrock and Kate McCrea at ACTFL, we’ve built out a new ACTFL learning series every season since last summer. So we went through the summer and had different topics, and went fall, winter, and now we’re in spring. So for the spring one, we’re looking at engaging learners in languages through the social justice lens. And so each one of these has provided an opportunity to say, “We’re going to pick a theme.” So take a conference theme, or in this case we’re going to roll out over four weeks, but we only get them for four hours. So it’s one hour for four weeks. And the model of instruction that we’ve used in my district, it’s the Harvard model of instruction, it’s called LES, Launch Explore Summarize.
And so, you launch with some new content, and then you explore. And that allows the learners to do something with it. And then you come back into the summary is where you’re going to get some closure, but also feedback from presenters. And this is all with the end goal that you’re going to make the learning stick. In other words, if you are baking cookies, which often we do while watching webinars, you must stop. You might have to put them in the oven at this point Norah, but you’ve got to stop for the application part, which is the explored because that way you can test, what did I get from the input? So L.J. Randolph, one of your former guests [Episode 15], thanks to you, I reached out to him to be a presenter on this ACTFL spring learning series, because that conversation was so rich between the two of you.
And so, you listen to L.J, and he explains what he’s doing to teach, let’s take two of the domains, like identity and diversity. What is he doing to bring those two social justice domains into his novice level classes? Well, as it washes over you, you have this illusion that you actually learned it. It is not until you try to create a task for interpersonal, presentational or interpretive for your novice students, that you know whether that identity standard will work, because you didn’t apply it yet. So this whole notion of taking time to really explore is where the real work in the mind begins. And a lot of times we stop at the launch, because the launch is the webinar for a full hour. Well, the work in the mind is not really going to start until you start applying that.
So, I think that we have a lot of ways that we can start looking at this, but it has to be based on some sort of interactive model, and not one that we just passively… We were talking about, many people have a Netflix watch list. But we were joking at NECTFL that we now need to have a NECTFL list, because there are so many good recordings that we have to go back and watch. But if I watch all 30 of them, that does not necessarily transform my educational practices, unless I stop with each of them. As Laura Terrell put into hers, she kept stopping every six or seven minutes and made us type something into the chat. And said, “This is your moment for retrieval. What was the important takeaway that you just learned from the last six minutes?” And it’s not until you say, “Oh God, okay, wait a minute, what did I just learn the last six minutes?” Because it’s like anybody, when you start reading, you open the book and you get through the first two pages and you don’t remember one name of one character. So just because you read it, does not mean that it actually stuck.
Norah Jones: No question. I love the idea, frankly, of this continuing exploration that you are doing in your leadership position, that the others that you interact with, and I hope here we’ll be able to take a look at how do we make sure that we, if I can put it badly here, institutionalize this feedback, institutionalize this opportunity to continue to grow? And again, not every session is going to be something I think that people will say, “This is one of those investment items.” Because sometimes as we find from people that are taking a look at colleges, sometimes they just want to sit back and listen, thank you very much. But the interaction, the type of growth that you’re looking at, can be so enhanced by the opportunity to make it a longer term investment among presenter and original recipients who then become their own presenters. And in an interesting and more limited way potentially, but a very powerful impact way potentially as well. This is great…
Lea Graner Kennedy: Right. I’m even thinking about even the impact of your podcast. I have learned so many really important lessons from the podcast, and I’m actually looking at my notes app here. It’s about languages. And you can see that every time I watch another episode, I jot down a couple of important ideas that are my takeaways, and then who I need to contact in order to make sure that I’m making that learning stick. So I’m even thinking about podcasts. What could we do as follow-ups to podcasts, because other people have listened to whether it’s Akash or Lisa or Adrienne, whoever was on your podcast, could we come together to say, “What are you doing to negotiate meaning from what you heard from that podcast, how can we collaborate and provide some feedback with each other?”
L.J. gave some really, really interesting ideas about the numbers of kids that you wanted to have in groups in order to build trust so that they could have really critical conversations about sensitive racial topics. And that got me thinking, that is an important takeaway. And it’s not something that’s given me a ton of new work, it just gave me a really important insight. So maybe there is a time where there’s follow-up with five or six other people who also listened to podcast, who also would like some feedback on how they redesigned things, given the learning that transpired due to your podcast.
Norah Jones: Lea, I consider that at this moment, that as we draw this particular podcast to a close that a very important invitation that I would extend out to everyone that’s listening, is to provide feedback to me and my website through the contact information that I have there. To Lea, about how it is that indeed one might effectively take a look at what has been heard in particular podcasts. And continue that conversation, and that collaboration, and that learning, because indeed there are many important concepts and experiences, and challenges, that have been provided through these podcast’s guests that I think can become an ongoing and rich experience. Lea, at this particular point, I would deeply appreciate it if you would take a look at the audience. What is the last thing that you just got to make sure that they hear from you before we close out today? Though I wish we could go on for much longer.
Lea Graner Kennedy: Well, Norah, I can’t thank you enough for a great conversation today because I think we’ve come across some ideas today that will get us going. I think one thing that’s leaving me feeling excited is, keep seeking out thought partners around a variety of topics. So maybe there is a way to comment at the bottom of a podcast. And then I find a thought partner just based on that, that I can go and then collaborate with, continue my learning, and also look for new ways to continue that learning, but to apply it and get feedback. So we have some big social justice, climate issues, racism issues. And I think the only way that we’re really going to make a difference is if we keep growing our practice as effective educators, and that’s through finding more thought partners that we feel that we can work with.
Norah Jones: Thank you, Lea, thought partners. And I just have to add, I have this strong image folks that are listening, world language educators, world language users, be fearless, be fearless. We can do this, this is our opportunity to help to bring hope and transformation to society. You can do this because you have the skillset. And in collaboration, connect up with Lea, connect up with me, connect up with those that already you trust or that you would like to learn how to trust from, and let’s make this happen together. Lea, you are making sure that we lead the charge. Thank you for everything that you do.
Lea Graner Kennedy: Thank you, Norah. And thank you for this fabulous podcast. It is a great resource to all of us.
Norah Jones: It’s a great pleasure to be able to do this. Thank you for being my guest and take care.
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