Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Writing a Mission Statement for the Spanish and Portuguese Language Programs

by Ann Abbott
Brenden Carollo started the ball rolling, and by writing it on the board we were able to brainstorm and edit efficiently.
In my role as Director of Undergraduate Studies, I have the privilege of working with a team of people who all have unique and very important perspectives about our students.

  • Melanie Waters directs the very first language courses that most students take. In many ways, she holds the key to the first impressions we make on students. She is also key in training our TAs so that they provide excellent teaching to students in whatever course they eventually teach.
  • Brenden Carollo directs the fourth-semester courses, when students have choices. They can take a grammar-based course or a Spanish in the Professions course. In many ways, he holds the key to helping students decide if they will continue with Spanish or not.
  • Florencia Henshaw stepped into the new role of coordinating all the "skills" courses for our majors and minors--Reading, Review of Grammar, Oral Spanish and Composition. She has a lot (!) of work, but by overseeing all these courses she can see how they work together (or not!) to build a foundation of language proficiency and cultural knowledge that is necessary for higher-level courses. 
  • Beth Chasco is the Spanish advisor, so she can zoom in to see what particular areas are troublesome for students and zoom out to see how the entire major or minor hangs together.
  • Nola Senna runs the Portuguese language program. She has insights into why students study languages other than Spanish and why some students decide to study both Spanish and Portuguese. Now that we are working together as a team, we hope that students will also see Spanish and Portuguese as a "team" of languages that will serve them well.
Together, I think that we can make the learning experience for our students more seamless, efficient and friendly.

Still, we haven't worked together as a team until this semester. So today's meeting was dedicated to developing a mission statement. In the picture above you can see what we ended up with after about 15-20 minutes. We'll take a break from it, get some distance and revisit it later. 

One thing that came out of our discussion is the question of who will read the mission statement? We will! We are articulating who we are, what we do, why we do it. We still have work to do on the mission statement, but we needed to find out who we are together. What unites us. Who we are working for--the students.

What is your language program's mission statement? Why do you do what you do? Do you work as a team, everybody rowing in the same direction?

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