The Power of a National Conference


In 2010, I joined my state language organization for the first time in several years.  I taught alone, in a rural school, and it seemed to me that the only reason to belong was to get a lower price for fall conference registration… BUT I WAS SO WRONG…

Since 2010, I have been 2nd Vice President, President Elect, and am about to take the presidency over in January… and I have some big shoes to fill!  What I’ve found through my service as a board member is that ICTFL is fighting the good fight for Illinois teachers.  Linda Egnatz, our immediate past president, brought us the Seal of Biliteracy… which is literally sweeping the nation and advocating for our language programs in a way that will have a lasting impact on our field.  Todd Bowen, another past president and board member of many hats, has brought us teacher leadership training through TALL-IL and valuable OPI training to help teachers understand how proficiency really develops!  This organization is fighting to have IL dump the language standards from the 90s and adopt the national standards, it is working to provide training to teachers around the state to help them build strong language programs, and it is connecting teachers to their region as a member of the Central States conference on Teaching of Foreign Languages (CSCTFL) and the nation as a member of ACTFL…

Being a member of all 3 of these organizations and attending all 3 conferences is incredible.  To see the number of teachers hungry to learn about using comprehensible language to teach their classes, to build high proficiency in language learners, and to reach out to the maximum number of language students possible is heart warming!  I saw sessions on film making, using commercials as comprehensible input, creating assessments that really assess proficiency, social justice, global engagement, and more!   As a profession, we are moving in an amazing new direction!  We are bringing the world and the language alive for our students and I love it!


I know that finances are always tight at school (and at home) but I want you to make a pledge to yourself.  Before you retire, you’ll take one opportunity (at least) to attend the regional and then the national conferences.  Imagine learning along side 8500 other language educators… Present, attend sessions, visit exhibitors, but most of all network!  Meet like minded teachers who will help you continue to grow as a teacher! In 2010, I thought ACTFL was a building in DC that housed books of state standards… Today I know better.  It is a living thing… It is tens of thousands of teachers working together to share, learn and grow.  And it is unbelievable!

Author: senoracmt

I began teaching Spanish in Illinois in 1994. I have taught levels 1-4 in a small rural high school, 8th grade introductory Spanish, Biology 1, and 101 and 102 at the community college level. My Spanish classes are partnered with the community college to offer students 8 semester hours of dual credit on completion of Spanish 4. In 2011 I met Carol Gaab and Kristy Placido and have since co-authored the book "La hija del sastre" with Carol Gaab and authored the novels "La Calaca Alegre", "Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos." "Vector," "48 horas" and "Bananas" through Fluency Matters. In 2006 I became National Board certified and I have been serving as a mentor both for candidates seeking certification in world languages other than English and a virtual mentor for candidates in all certificate areas. I completed my Masters degree in Spanish education in 2011 and did my research on the use of Understanding by Design to create meaningful cultural units for the language classroom. I am a frequent presenter on this topic, please consider me if you are interested in a workshop on backward design. In 2013 I was named the ICTFL Foreign Language teacher of the year and in 2014 I was selected as CSCTFL's teacher of the year. In November of 2014 I was lucky enough to be one of the five finalists for the ACTFL National Teacher of the Year in San Antonio, TX. What a "Cinderella" experience! You can reach me via email at senoracmt at

6 thoughts

  1. Thank you for sharing. I’d like to hear more about how they used film-making in their classes and what type of assessments they used to evaluate proficiency. Next blog???

  2. Well put! This was my first year attending at a national level and what an awesome experience it was. Learned so much and already putting some into practice. Thank you.

  3. I look forward to the upcoming CSCTFL in Chicago and my first ACTFL ’17 in Nashville. Congratulations on your upcoming Presidency position for ICTFL. I am thrilled to hear that you will be leading because I belong to ICTFL. Thank you!

  4. Carrie – I’m posting my comment here because I couldn’t find a place on Fluency matters. Can you provide an example of a rubric that takes into account the different rates of acquiring proficiency?

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