I questioned about 400 times why I was chosen to represent Kentucky at LILL this year.
For those of you that haven’t heard of it, Leadership in Language Learning is a summer institute through ACTFL to build and support leaders in the world language community, across the nation. The first institute was held in 2015 and that became Emerging Leaders Cohort 1, who also met in 2016. This year, ACTFL added Cohort 2 as well as bringing back Cohort 1 for our last day and keeping them another day. Being a part of this institute is a BIG DEAL, and it’s a tribe for life. I have so, so, so many posts, tweets, tweaks, plans, and actions coming as a result of my participation. But let’s get back to the meat, here, of what was the most important internal shift of my experience, and why YOU need to hear it, too.
Why in the world was I sent to LILL? KWLA is a fabulous organization, and Kentucky is seen as one of the top advocates of world language education in the nation, so why me??? I’m not a board member. I’ve never presented at KWLA. I’m on the conference committee mainly because of my hotel experience in reading contracts, and because I offered to do the grunt work before the conference to set up (because, and yes this is weird, I actually like the grunt work of setting up events and seeing them come together). As a teacher, I’ve had a really weird sequence of teaching many different things, and I didn’t even hop on the proficiency boat fully until 2013/2014. I’m STILL making baby steps towards proficiency. There are SO MANY talented, amazing leaders in our pool — why me???
I don’t honestly know the answer (other than the fact that I was interested and I asked about the possibility), but really, it doesn’t matter now, because I know that regardless of where I am in my journey, and regardless of how star struck I was/am to meet these people, I found my tribe and I realized that I am a leader NOW. I am good enough NOW. I can follow my strengths NOW and I can find others to support me in places where my strengths aren’t as strong NOW.
So many of my peers have a similar story to mine. So many of my peers are ahead of me or behind me in the measures I was using to determine my worth before LILL, and yet now I see that we are all equal because we are all working toward the same goals TOGETHER. They may have better developed their strengths or their network, or they may be farther on their proficiency journey, but where I am is where I need to be right now, and I can be star struck and full of self-doubt, or I can make connections with this tribe to continue to grow and flourish.
In case no one has told you yet, you are good enough NOW. You can be a leader NOW. You don’t have to present at conferences or be perfect at using CI techniques without a textbook in 90+% target language with your kids spontaneously erupting with language production to be a success or a leader. Start with your strengths, GROW, and find your tribe. Our tribe is always looking to expand, you know, and we are pretty darn excited to help you in any way we can as well.