By Elizabeth Bricker, Talon Staff Reporter
Teachers often focus on what their students learn in the classroom. Nicole Goode, new to the HRV French department this year, is aware of how her student’s mindset and attitude about learning affects how they learn.
Fellow language teacher Mary Ann Hay says Goode is “very creative, very in-tune to sensory response, changing it up in the classroom as far as the environment to inspire kids to talk more, or to bring in some creativity on their part. She’s very aware of how light, sound, and aromas in a room can influence how you work and how you think.” You can often smell citrus in the air, coming from her little fog machine.
At the start of the year, Goode explained to students the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset, depicting that there is always room for improvement, not to give up on yourself, and how to face your challenges. She also has a very active, hands-on teaching style. Often students can be found doing movements assigned to French verbs such as “look right” or “jump”. Her classes spend time learning aspects of French culture along with the language. Earlier this year, students were asked to bring in French food for a conversation activity. They also “ice skated” on paper plates around the classroom and learned the vocabulary words about winter activities.
It seems that her alternative teaching style, has been affected by her unique life experiences
“I went into the Peace Corps and I went to the French- speaking country of West Africa called Mali. One of the reasons I decided to go there was because it was French speaking. I also learned the local language called Bambara while I was there, and I worked with people on small scale agricultural projects.” She has also been on quite a few trips to Francophone countries including parts of French speaking West Africa, France, and Western Europe.
Sophomore and French 2 student Morgan Graves says of Goode’s teaching style: “ I feel like we are actually going to be able to use what we are learning if we travel out of the country. I feel like she actually knows what we are looking for in taking french. I’m taking french to get ready for my summer exchange, and I think that it’s really good information that I’m learning so that I will be able to communicate with other people and it will take me farther.” Graves is going on foreign exchange this summer to French speaking Switzerland with the Rotary program.
In French three this year, Goode’s students will participate in an activity on French speaking West Africa, also the country of Mali, where Goode lived. They will focus on cultural aspects of the region such as dress, food, all in the context of grammar, or other skills they will be learning simultaneously.
Goode also says that her travels have influenced how she decorates her classroom, with tapestries and pictures from French speaking West Africa, indicative to her style of teaching and representative of her travels to francophone countries around the world. She spoke of how her travels and time in the Peace Corps taught her about French dialect, and accents, that help her keep an open mind about speaking French: “I think one thing that influences me in the classroom is assuring students that there is no one way to speak French. When you go to all of the French speaking countries, everyone speaks French with a different accent, everyone speaks French a little differently. You don’t have to speak french like a Parisian, with Parisian grammar and a Parisian accent. There’s the Quebecois way of speaking French, there’s the African way of speaking French; and to assure students that there isn’t just one way to speak French, that all accents are acceptable and are beautiful and can be celebrated. So just exposing students to that diversity, I think, is reassuring and puts students at ease. That also that has assured me throughout my life too, that I don’t have to just speak French just one way, there are a lot of people from these Francophone cultures that have helped influenced the way I teach and the way I feel about myself in terms of my language skills, and how I try to convey that to students as well.”
Goode’s time abroad influenced her as a person, as well as a teacher. “ Learning about how people live, and comparing it to how we live and being more grateful and appreciative of what we have in this country. I’ve learned different variations of how people greet one another, how people interact with one another and that helps me when I’m meeting new people from different countries to always hold in the back of my mind that people don’t do things just the way I do it or my own particular culture does it. So it really opens up your mind and opens yourself up to experiencing new experiences and being open to those circumstances and not arriving with all of these pre- judgements or pre-misconceptions”
Hay says of Goode, “She’s super sweet, a very kindhearted person, she spent two years in the peace corps, she has a really huge heart you can tell that she cares about people, cares about kids, shes very sensitive. I think being a mom helps because she has her own children and that makes her even more sensitive to people as a whole, especially young people, shes also very smart. That’s my initial reaction to her.”
Graves wraps up her description of Goode more simply, “she’s really nice, she’s always really helpful she’s one of my favorite teachers.”