2016 Hall of Fame Nominee

Deana Zorko

Madison West High School
Madison, WI
2016 Finalist from CSCTFL

I believe strongly that all students should and can learn a world language. Providing an environment where risk-taking is safe and opportunities to experiment with language are facilitated, is an integral part of my belief. This coupled with helping to mold a new way of thinking, moving students from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, models the desire for not only being bilingual, but also bicultural, while preparing all students to be lifelong learners.

To be an effective language educator and pass on the value of bilingualism and biculturalism, I construct a learning framework for my students which includes the following:

  • I value a safe and culturally rich classroom environment where risk-taking in the target language is encouraged thus preparing students to communicate in real-life situations using communicative, collaborative and creative skills they have gained as they apply the content they have learned.
  • I value meaningful peer interactions in the target language that connect student’s personal interests to the culture being studied so they are able to share with others who they are and what they value being sensitive to the diversity of cultural perspectives and linguistic contexts.
  • I value the use of effective evaluation/assessment systems to measure students’ growth and development of language skills in an environment where students reflect on their learning progress to meet their goals of proficiency. This is essential to students’ knowledge of what they are able to do in the target language and helping them focus on and improve upon the areas in which they are weakest. By strengthening their skills of initiative and self-direction and encouraging leadership and personal responsibility in their own learning, I am able to develop life-long learners.
  • I value addressing multiple learning styles through the implementation of a variety of activities, assessments, projects, and assignments that promote proficiency in the world language being studied so all students can achieve regardless of their learning differences as they hone their personal productivity and accountability skills while increasing their language proficiency and cultural knowledge.

    I value the integration of technology to meet the above objectives and to foster and encourage students’ global competence as well as preparing them to be college and career ready through the development of their media, technology, and information literacy skills.

Keeping these values at the core of my approach to teaching and learning, as well as my own personal life as a model and a mentor, allows me to foster connections and collaborations, student to student, colleague to colleague, friend to friend, and classroom to classroom. In today’s global society, all students will have the opportunity to use linguistic, cultural and global competencies beyond the boundaries of the classroom. It is therefore my responsibility and passion as a language educator to facilitate and foster the learning of language and culture in a way that supports global competence, preparing today’s students to be successful in an ever-changing world.