Start a Fire in Me

One of my favorite songs on the radio is by the group Unspoken.  It’s called Start a Fire.  The chorus is so catchy “Start a fire in my soul. Fan the flames and make it grow so there’s no doubt or denying… Let it burn so brightly that everyone around can see that it’s you, that it’s you that we need.  Start a fire in me.”

It’s a great anthem for what needs to happen to me spiritually but it also strikes me as the way to come back for the new school year rested, re-energized, and ready to start fires in the souls of students who don’t realize yet how much language study could mean to them.

What are you doing this summer to fan the flames?

Money is tight… most of us know that the practice of school districts paying for a full conference/travel/etc are slim…

Money is tight… as teachers, how do we travel to build our cultural backstory and bulk up our language proficiency when a tour is upwards of $3500 today?  We don’t make that much money!

Money is tight… buying and using new materials means an out of pocket purchase.  If the district wants student engagement and retention to grow, they need to invest… but they just can’t.

So what do we do?

  1. This summer if you can’t do anything to get yourself out to a conference or to a country where your TL is spoken, immerse yourself from home.  Read Twitter feeds, read books that will inspire you as a teacher, and read in your TL.  Watch shows online in your TL.  Listen to music in your TL.  Make this a summer of immersion no matter where you are.  Immersion in language AND in educational practice.  You’ll be amazed how one little book or one great show can reinvigorate your enthusiasm for the classroom!
  2. Start a savings plan.  We all know that funding in education is just not available but an investment in yourself is important!  If you continue to learn, grow, and apply new ideas in the classroom, you’ll always feel ready to start with the next group!  Excited even!  Save a little each month and in the spring, sign up for that conference you’ve been wanting to attend!
  3. Start a long term savings plan.  If you’re needing a boost on your language proficiency or cultural knowledge, start saving for a trip to a country that speaks your TL!  Put a little away every month and in 2 years, you’ll be able to make that trip!  Check out your state language teaching organizations!  Most have summer scholarships that will pay for tuition and room/board while you attend language classes in schools in Mexico, Spain, etc.  Then you just have to worry about flights and excursions!
  4. Travel with students.  Aside from giving YOU a broader cultural base (at little to no expense) to draw from, traveling with students makes them hungry to see more of the world.  The more students we can expose to the world’s people, the more chance we have of creating life-long language learners.
  5. Think about “next year I’m going to”.  Don’t close the door to your classroom on the last day and open it (and this year’s plan book) again in August.  This summer set a goal to create ONE really awesome unit that will keep you excited to go back and share it with your students!

Have a GREAT summer!  Enjoy the break you have earned and feed your professional self as well!  The new school year will be here in a blink and just one little idea can make that transition back to the classroom an exciting one!

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

One thought

  1. Great post, and very timely for me. My family is saving now to go to Mexico for a month next summer (my kids will be 5 and 6 years old!) But it is hard.

    One thing we realized – We were planning to go for a week or two, but as we started looking for places to stay, we realized that lodging is really very inexpensive. Air travel is a huge expense no matter how long we are there, so since my spouse CAN take the time off of work, going for a longer period of time will make the most of our money and let our kids get settled in long enough to relax and learn some Spanish… and hopefully make some friends.

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