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Sunday, May 1, 2016

End of Academic Year: Time for Reflection

Annie Abbott, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
It was nice to have my picture taken by a professional photographer.
by Ann Abbott

As the spring semester and the academic year come to a close, it's a good time to reflect. Last week I handed in my annual activity report, and that forces you to reflect on the products of your work within a structured (and hierarchical) format. Some of the highlights from that list include:

Research/Writing

Incorporating New Areas of Business into Business LanguageStudies: Social Media Marketing.” Global Business Languages 19 (2014): 71-84.  
This was my only piece of writing that appeared in print this year. In it, I use Radio Ambulante as a case study to exemplify linguistically- and culturally-appropriate social media marketing. So it combines two things that I love: the creativity of social media marketing and Radio Ambulante's masterful storytelling--in their podcasts and in their marketing. I'm also happy to say that the article cracked Global Business Language's list of its most popular papers.

I have four other pieces in press, one abstract awaiting word of acceptance or not, and one article manuscript that I'm currently drafting. That was a pretty good writing year for me.

Teaching

For the first time in decades, I taught a 100-level Spanish class--and it was good! I taught two sections of SPAN 142, one of our fourth-semester Spanish courses that fulfills the language requirement. The students were delightful! I used Dia a dia: De lo personal a lo profesional, the textbook that Holly Nibert and I wrote and published a year ago. It was a great chance to put all that work into a real context, with real students. But most importantly, I'm glad that I had the opportunity to have students at that level do some community service learning. The response to that was overwhelmingly positive!

Director of Undergraduate Studies

My happiest accomplishment in this category was the redesign and simplification of our webpage for Spanish undergraduate studies. This summer I will continue to evaluate and perhaps add to the page, but for now I'm just happy to have a "fresh face" for our page.

Awards

I don't know of a better way to end the year than with very meaningful awards. I received two, and they make me very proud--not for me, but to be a part of a community that respects and enacts engaged scholarship and teaching.

Other categories for reflection

Now that that official reflective task is finished, I'll set aside some hours this week or next to reflect on categories that matter to me and that aren't on the official form. How can I improve student learning? How can I set important, pertinent new learning objectives for my students? What "stretch project" should I focus on? Is there more that I can share on social media (including this blog) that would be helpful? I'll let you know the answers...

What are your accomplishments from this academic year? What do reflect upon? Have you set any goals for next year? I'd love to hear from you and learn from you.

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