Instructional Coaching

Instructional Coaching

Knowing as a teacher what goes into planning each lesson and unit and as a coach knowing the benefits of having another set of eyes on the mechanics of what happens in the classroom, I have become a certified organizational coach through the University of British Columbia.

In my teaching position this year, I have also become an instructional coach where I blend my experience of being in the classroom for 18 years with my knowledge and experience of being a personal coach.

A tenet of my coaching practice is to meet people where they are, no matter where that is, without judgement. As an instructional coach this same principle holds true. Each teacher has their distinct flare and approach to teaching and as a coach my goal is never to bend someone to how I do things in my classroom. The focus, always, is helping the teacher in an area they identify, and providing the best learning environment and practices for students.

After a teacher has identified an area to focus on, there is observation and communication between the teacher and the coach. A dialogue of generative questions and teacher reflection follow as the teacher explores where they would like to see changes that are meaningful and sustainable. As an instructional coach I may make suggestions, but this happens only if and when the teacher indicates they would like suggestions. These suggestions, made with the teacher’s intentions in mind, are made without attachment, meaning if the teacher declines the suggestion, there are no hard feelings or resentment from the instructional coach.

Staying up-to-date. As a way of staying up-to-date with instructional coaching trends and topics, considerable research and reading is conducted regularly. From April 8 – 12, 2024, I will be attending a week-long intensive conference of the Instructional Coaching Institute in Lawrence, Kansas. I look forward to networking with other instructional coaches, learning with other instructional coaches, and sharing this knowledge on this site.

Culture Connection

Culture Connection

As a French teacher in a majority-English region of Canada it is often very difficult to find opportunities to practice and learn French. I have managed to visit Quebec City to participate in a teacher bursary program through the University of British Columbia (UBC), and I have studied in Montréal as part of an M.Ed. program of UBC. I have also found opportunities to volunteer at a guest house in Normandy, France. Each of these trips have provided me with both formal and informal practice of my French.

Beyond the spontaneous use of French, they afford me opportunities to ask questions about culture and daily practices. In Québec, I have been able to as French Canadians how they feel living in a bilingual country like Canada, do they see Canada through this lens, or do the efforts to preserve language and culture change how they view Canada. I have found that Québécois and Québécoises are often surprised that an Anglophone from Western Canada is curious about such things and wanting to learn more. I value their answers to my questions and the extras they provide me with.

In France, I am often asked about stereotypes of Canadians. I enjoy sharing what British Columbia is like, how I live and the differences I notice between British Columbia and Normandy. Here is where I see the more noticeable cultural differences. From la bise to drinking morning coffee from a bowl, and hugs to coffee mugs there is an energy in the conversations. As well, new friends are made. Through these connections, and with the bonus that Zoom provides, my classes can have virtual conversations with native French speakers during the school year.

I am always looking for other French teachers with whom to connect. I have been able to connect with French teachers through Facebook pages and have been able to have flip grid video exchanges, I’ve connected with French speaking businesses and had interviews via Zoom with my classes. The sky is the limit if you are able to put the time in to find resources.

I’m happy to help with ideas and /or make connections for my classes with other classes. Reach out. Let’s make some plans!

Year end business & looking ahead

Year end business & looking ahead

It’s the end of another school year and this is the time when I need to be focused, take down the bulletin boards, pack up my desk, and clear out. It is also when I find I have the most creative ideas that I want to implement next school year! It’s time to leave for vacation and I’m already thinking of my classes in the fall.

One area I am looking to broaden and improve in is making learning fun. I don’t just mean all games all the time, but rather allowing students to be students who experience and find joy while they learn. Teaching a language is not just learning verbs and vocabulary, it’s enjoying the interactions with the language, becoming familiar with it and using it!

On this note, I have created scrabble tiles for French. The ’tiles’ have a letter and the value of that letter – just like the game scrabble, and the letters in French with accents. For these I simply assigned them a value. The idea here is to print them off on cardstock, cut them out and laminate them, and then put a flat magnet on the back. My goal is to have a variety of stations that have games and activities students can use to practice grammar and vocabulary without having to sit in a desk writing words out like lines in detention.

Another game idea I had as I was updating my materials, is the game Go Fish or Faire de la pêche, in this case I made the cards to help students with school related vocabulary. Again, the plan is to print them on cardstock and to have them laminated. I have a dedicated shelf in the classroom with games and I will add the scrabble and the Faire de la pêche to that area. I also plan to be intentional about dedicating time each week so that students can play games. One I thought I had was that I could use this time to check in with students and go over materials they missed or that they are struggling with. I want to be careful however that I am not singling out anyone, or that any one student consistently misses out on the opportunity to play and learn.

Wherever you are going this summer, whatever you find yourself doing, relax and enjoy some down time. If you’re anything like me I know you will still be wearing your teacher hat, constantly on the look out for that next thing that will bring your lessons to life! Passez un bon été! À plus!

OFT Network

OFT Network

Do you follow teachers on social media? This can be a phenomenal way to glean from others’ experiences, learn about resources online or resources teachers have created and are sharing for free, or line up exchanges with teachers and their classes in other areas!


I have personally picked up practices that I have implemented into my classrooms that have been game changing. From ways to organize, better flow systems, how to help students with transitions, how to better support students in general. There has been so much. I have also widened my network of teachers who are in this career, who are meeting challenges in creative, and often entertaining ways, who are finding ways to create community among their students and with their social media audience, and who are willing to partner with my classes on projects.

As a French teacher this opens the door to one of my favourite teaching topics – culture in the classroom. By this I mean beyond the Eiffel Tower, baguettes, and berets, but really learning about the culture and customs of a people. Students’ interest is activated, their engagement is heightened, and their experience in the classroom more authentic.

On TikTok there is #teachersoftiktok and #frenchteachersoftiktok. Ouifrencheachers is on both TikTok and Instagram click the links below. I teach Core French for grades 9-12 and I’m always interested in collaborations and partnering with teachers from anywhere.

Just the help you’re looking for!

Just the help you’re looking for!

OuiFrenchTeachers is happy to partner with Pacific Coaching to support teachers in their practice.

Coaching is different from therapy, counselling, or consulting in that it focuses on the present, helps the client identify goals, and name steps to achieve them. Like the aforementioned, coaching observes confidentiality. It also follows the code of ethics of the International Coaching Federation.

Pacific Coaching is offering free sessions – in person, via telephone, or via zoom – until December 31, 2023. Contact them through their website to learn more about how coaching could be helpful for you, either professionally or personally.

Whether you’re interested in short term coaching (1-3 sessions) or long term coaching (ongoing basis) Pacific Coaching can help you see more clearly the things you want to achieve and how you want to get there.

Pacific Coaching’s values include being inclusive, welcoming diversity, creating a safe space, and authentic relationships with people.

Everything they do is in service to their clients and their clients’ well-being. Using a variety of approaches Pacific Coaching accompanies clients as they discover and achieve their goals.

Ressource en lumière: Le portail des Outre-Mer

Ressource en lumière: Le portail des Outre-Mer

Are you looking for authentic French resources that will help you or your students stay connected with what is happening in the francophone world? Le portail des Outre-Mer is a portal that connects you to the French regions outside of France proper. The regions covered by this resource include : Guadaloupe, Guyane, Martinique, Mayotte, Nouvelle-Calédonie, Polynésie, Réunion, Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, et Wallace et Futuna.

The site offers many articles to read, videos to watch, and radio to listen to. There are also links to podcast episodes. Here, you and your students can hear different accents, see the topics that matter to the people of these regions and see how they are connected to France proper.

Starting points:

I have used articles, videos, and podcasts from this site as starting points for class discussions. Students practice their listening skills and partner them with their speaking skills as they share what they understood, what stood out to them, and what their thoughts on the topic are. Students can point out similarities and differences between where they live, and the places seen or heard on the website all the while becoming aware of more regions where French is spoken in the world. My students have also used this as a research point to add to their ongoing research projects.

As with so many resources, this is also a great way to learn more vocabulary as new to you or new to your students words are found. Phrases that do not translate literally into English are also found and add depth to language learning.

The website includes information from a variety of topics including culture which highlights cultural traditions, the arts, and heritage information. This allows students to see the rich culture of these regions as well as the history of the people from these regions. Also on the site, are spotlights on people who have made a significant impact on these French regions. Various initiatives from these regions are also given a space to be heard. Here students can see how other places in the world are working for the betterment of communities and the globe.

En profitez de ce site web ! Enjoy the website! Le portail des Outre-Mer

Deliberate Practice in the Language Classroom

Deliberate Practice in the Language Classroom

It is well understood that to improve skills practice is required. Athletes at all levels practice regularly, musicians practice, singers practice, you get the idea. As language teachers we plan intentional practice into our lessons everyday so that our students can grow in their language abilities. How can we make it more productive?

Altuwairesh’s (2017) approaches the idea of practice in the language classroom in their article “Deliberate Practice in Second Language Learning: A Concept whose Time has Come”. Altuwairesh cites studies that looked at the practice and expertise level of people who practice a particular skill. The studies looked at musicians, asking them to log how long they practiced as well as the type of practice undertaken: practice versus extensive practice.

Some take aways from the article, based on the studies cited include:

  • “Extensive practice one gains in a certain field does not inevitably lead to expert performance.”
  •  “…diligent and persistent application of the basic principles of deliberate practice …play a crucial role in expert levels of performance.”

What is deliberate practice? It is “defined as “activities that have been specially designed to improve the current level of performance (Ericsson et al. 1993 as cited in Altuwairesh, 2017). At the centre of this practice is deliberate time for intentional practice. Deliberate practice is also a consistent occurrence, not occasionally; Ericsson suggests daily. This type of practice also focuses on the student, in the case of a language classroom, going beyond their current abilities” (Ericsson et al. 1993, as cited in Altuwairesh, 2017). Ericsson continues to point out that deliberate practice is effortful. This ultimately places demands on the language teacher to prepare practice activities that would be accepted as deliberate practice and that would engage the language student so they put effort into their classroom practice.

How might a language teacher create deliberate practice activities? Planning is at the centre of these types of activities. Teachers should also consider how they will scaffold students, enabling them to enter the activities at a level they feel comfortable and capable in, while guiding them to go beyond their current level of ability. Scheduling intentional activities at regular intervals so that students have multiple opportunities to practice and improve. Regular feedback to students during the activity so they understand what they are doing well and how they might go beyond their current ability. A logical next step to feedback is to discern whether feedback should be formative or summative. The intention of the practice and the amount of practice students have had will help with determining this. Motivation is a common factor in student improvement and one a teacher needs to be aware of. Students must be willing to participate and to work hard at this deliberate practice.

The role of the teacher in deliberate practice is one of coach or facilitator. Teachers set the scene (activity). Deliberate practice is learner-centred and therefore the learner takes on the responsibility for their learning and their improvement. Small groups enable the teacher to circulate and give feedback in the moment.

Different from the rote memorization of years past, deliberate practice offers learners multiple opportunities to practice with effort and concentration while receiving in-the-moment feedback from the teacher who acts as a guide or coach. Setting classroom activities and schedules to include such practice will enable learners to continually improve their level of language ability.

Here are some other resources on deliberate practice:

Altuwairesh, N. (2017). Deliberate Practice in Second Language Learning: A Concept whose Time has Come. International Journal of Language and Linguistics, 4, 111-115.

Baron, R. & Henry, R. (2010). How entrepreneurs acquire the capacity to excel: insights from research on expert performance. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 4, 49-65.

Eliason, N. (2017, July 3). How to use Deliberate Practice to reach the Top 1% of Your Field. Website.

Ericsson, K. (2006). The influence of experience and deliberate practice on the development of superior expert performance. Psychological Review, 100, 363-406.

Lawless, L. (2023). Deliberate French Practice. Website.

Getting connected

Getting connected

Looking for a community of French teachers with whom you can share ideas, ask questions, and share resources?


Once a month, French teachers from across British Columbia meet via Zoom to discuss professional development opportunities, best practices, to share resources, and exchange ideas.

If you are interested in being part of this group, please email The Zoom link will be sent to you including links to Google agenda and meeting minute documents.

What’s the word? Vocabulary in the language classroom

What’s the word? Vocabulary in the language classroom

Vocabulary has always been one of those things about being a language teacher that I have struggled with. I see the need for vocabulary, however, I hated how I was taught it in school. The teacher would hand out a huge list of words, we were told what day a quiz for each section would take place and it was up to us to review and study for the quizzes. No matter what, I rarely succeeded on these tests, and yet, I could have detailed conversations using the vocabulary. So as a teacher, I do not like giving out the large lists or the vocab quizzes. I find I have flip flopped between the two spots on the pendulum. That changes now.

In their article Assessing Vocabulary in the Language Classroom, Coombe (2011) sheds light on some of the basic questions language teachers should ask when looking at how they are teaching and assessing vocabulary.

From what I have read, and continue to find on the internet on the topic of vocabulary assessment is that it is linked to assessment in general – whether in a language classroom or not. Additional questions I find myself asking as I plan out units and lessons include: What material is being covered in lessons? How are the in-class activities being completed? What age and level are the students? What is the purpose of the assessment – formative or summative? With some intentional thinking and planning these questions can be easily answered. Questions that may be a bit more difficult to answer quickly can include: How do I encourage my students to be motivated to learn the vocabulary? How do I encourage buy-in of my students during classroom activities? Am I wanting students to self-assess core competencies or am I wanting them to reflect on their learning and demonstration of a skill or curricular competency?

The questions that work as headers in the article are:

  • How should I test vocabulary?
  • Which kind of vocabulary should I test?
  • Which format(s) should I use?
  • How many itens should I include?
  • How important is context?
  • Are there any tools or resources that can help me?

This brings me to what does review and practice in the language lesson look like? I teach high school and while I am a student who makes lists and writes things over and over to remember, not all of my students learn like this. So I have come up with a few activities I have found useful for a variety of learning styles over the years.

  1. Have students fold an A4 unlined paper into 8. Unfold. In each square have students write a vocabulary word in this unit of study as well as draw the word as an image. If like me, students will have stick people in almost every box. Other, more artsy students may have mini masterpieces!
  2. Get active! Whether inside on a rainy day or outside when the first dry day arrives, getting students to complete small actions while making sentences using the vocabulary words – this includes using the word in context portion of learning vocabualary. This can be jumping jacks, hopscotch, hoola hooping, or skipping, even a type of Simon says game. Anything that gets students attaching an action to the words they are learning.
  3. Riddles. Even the simplest of riddles can be helpful to students as they practice and recall vocabulary words. I often will use riddles as an in-betweeen, before we get things started, or we have a few minutes left at the end of class activity. This can use current vocabuarly and previous vocabulary – another way of showing students that just because we learned vocabulary in a previous unit doesn’t mean we no longer use it in the current unit.
  4. Let’s talk about it! I regularly have students start classes with partner discussions in which they are asked to get out their vocabulary sheets, and use as many of the words as possible in their conversations. The focus in these conversations is vocabulary first, grammar second, and so if I overhear students making some grammar errors, I tend to overlook them and rather focus more on creating a safe space for students to practice using vocabulary. There are other times in the lesson when grammar, pronunciation, or other language concepts are the focus and therefore mentioned.

As usual, I am by no means an expert on assessment or vocabulary. What I am convinced of is that the days of assessing a student’s ability to memorize words or verb conjugations should be things of the past. Do students need to broaden their vocabulary? Yes. Do students need to know how to conjugate verbs to communicate effectively? Yes. But memorizing and fervently writing them on a paper before they are forgotten is not, in my opinion, a demonstration of the skill of communicating in an additional language.

Resources on this topic:

Brown, J. D. (2005). Testing in the Language Programs: A comprehensive guide to English language assessment. McGraw-Hill.

Coombe, C. (2011) Assessing Vocabulary in the Language Classroom.

Actualités pour les jeunes

Actualités pour les jeunes

Are you looking for video clips that connect students with current events, see things from their perspective, and help them do so in French? Well, CBC’s webzine MAJ is a great resource!

There are a number of topics covered here and it is easy to change the speed of the audio, hear different accents to raise your students’ awareness of dialects and accents, and the videos are wonderful conversation starters for in class discussions.

In my classes we have used some of the environment videos as a way of introducing a topic, starting a unit, start off brainstorming, sharing ideas and guiding us to other topics that might be related.

Students have been able to listen to accents that are different from mine, but also hear a few that have similarities. This has led to conversations and more awareness to the variety of accents in Canada and abroad.

The fact that videos can be slowed down or played at normal speed has been helpful for students of all abilities, and then the URL is easy to post on our school online ports to enable students to access is outside of school.