For the next few months, get to know your SCFLTA board. Each month we will introduce board members! This month, SCFLTA would like to introduce you to Dr. Rocio Zalba and Cristain Ugro!
What is your name?
What level and language/s do/did you teach?
For 23 years, I taught all levels of Spanish. From novice, low to advance low, from literature and culture to film and theater.
What made you want to be a language teacher?
In my sophomore year of College, my Spanish Lit professor asked if I could substitute a TA (Teaching Assistant) they hired to teach a lower-level Spanish course. The TA had left, and they had no one. I had never taught before (& certainly not my peers), but I agreed. I was given a textbook, classroom location and sent on my way. Fortunately for them but most fortunately for me, I loved it. I found my calling and have been teaching languages ever since.
What has been the most rewarding part of your job?
In the classroom, the most rewarding part of my job was seeing the students put aside their apprehensions and fears and engage with the language and culture. That first step they take towards communicating in the target language always fills me up. In my current role at the State Department of Education is hearing the passion and commitment of our world language teachers and seeing all of the creative initiatives implemented in our WL classrooms. I am in a constant state of admiration, respect, and appreciation.
What advice would you give to a new teacher?
Progress, not Perfection. And step into another teacher's classroom. Observing other phenomenal teachers is powerful.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing world language teachers today?
The biggest challenges seems to be the same today as yesterday: having the acquisition of a second language be recognized by stakeholders as a valuable asset in our student's education. I think all WL teachers carry an invisible pin that says, "WL teacher/ Advocate for Languages."
How did you get involved with SCFLTA?
I first got involved as a participant by attending the annual conference, then as a presenter, and now I am on the board.
What role do you play in the organization?
I am part of the Executive Committee and support the Director and President in all their initiatives.
What has SCFLTA meant to you over your career?
SCFLTA has provided me with a community of educators that, like me, are passionate about second language acquisition.
What do you see SCFLTA doing for the profession in the future?
Continue to provide a safe and welcoming space for all language teachers where they can receive the support and resources they need to continue growing in their profession.
What is one non-teaching related fact about you?
I was born and raised in Argentina, but my family moved to Canada when I was 12. I am also a proud Canadian.