This past Saturday, August 18, 2018, 11 incredible individuals felt the accumulation of 15 months or 2 years of hard word, perseverance, and knowledge building. Smiles, laughter, and tears of joy were seen throughout the ceremony. The two overarching themes for the day were inspiration and community.
For inspiration, a quote from LTS director Dr. Keli Yerian’s commencement speech captures the beauty and complexity of language teaching: “Language learning is like a 4-dimensional puzzle that you live inside while you are solving it”. As the graduating students saw in their classes, helping students learn a language is not always a simple if>then formula; rather, each students is on their own journey with every new word, text, and social interaction. It is then teachers who help facilitate students’ understanding of these complex puzzles and help them feel empowered to want to continue to solve it.
For community, the graduating students will be dearly missed, but the good news is they are forever part of the LTS family. As LTS faculty member Laura Holland said in her speech to the graduating class, “Welcome to the family.” By this she means the LTS family but also the family of language educators and leaders.
Messages to the new cohort
With every new academic year the LTS family continues to grow. To help the new LTS student cohort as they begin their Fall term in Eugene, some LTS faculty and graduating students had the advice below to share. When Laura Holland welcomed the graduating class into the family, she also summed up everyones’ feelings about the incoming cohort, “Welcome to Eugene and to the LTS Program. We’re so happy you’re here!”
Self-care and study breaks
- Make sure to find your own balance between working hard and self-care. This is a short program, so you can’t afford to procrastinate or dawdle, but you won’t make it through with your sanity intact without listening to your brain and body when they tell you they need a break. Balance is key! – Logan Matz
- Build breaks into your day, sometimes taking an afternoon for a hike can be just what you need in the middle of a tough term. – Lee Huddleston
- Don’t forget to get some exercise and take care of yourselves. Mount Pisgah is a wonderful place to walk and run- close to town, but you feel farther away. Try some of the trails other than the main walk to the summit – there is a longer trail that loops around the whole park, and a trail that goes along the river. Have a great beginning of the year! – Prof. Joana Jansen
- Maintain a balance in your life! Of course we want you to focus on your studies and work hard, but Eugene is full of interesting and wonderful opportunities for just about any interest. Explore some of these. Find groups or activities that match your hobbies. Make friends and connections outside of just our program. You’ll have a more authentic experience in Eugene this way. – Prof. Andy Halvorsen
- Take study breaks and get some fresh air. Every time I went for a hike, I noticed an immediate positive affect on my mental and physical health. In turn, it helped me be more effective when I returned to working. Plus, there are so many beautiful hikes around Eugene. – Zach Patrick-Riley
Challenge yourself and keep an open mind
- Challenge yourself, take chances, this is the time to experience and learn. Apply for a GE position, take a challenging class that interests you, do that internship (I did all 3 one term, you can too). This year will really be what you make of it, so make the most out of it. Tell Keli what you are looking for, she is an awesome resource! – Lee Huddleston
- Wake up early!! – Kunie Kellem
- Keep your minds open to new practices and ways of looking at language education and right from the start, begin a portfolio of teaching ideas and practices you can take with you, even if the varying practices seemingly contradict each other. This is excellent practice and will help you build your “teaching toolbox” with many ideas you can use in a variety of teaching contexts your path may take you on. – Prof. Laura Holland
- I’m sure everyone will tell you this, but start thinking about your project early, make sure it’s something your passionate about, something that you won’t get burnt out on. Bounce ideas off of everyone, teachers and cohort members. Start double dipping, designing things for your project in other classes. Every final project/ lesson plan that you write should ideally be toward your target context. – Lee Huddleston
- Try to find a purpose or a goal for this MA program as soon as possible. The earlier you decide your research areas, the easier it will be in the last two terms. – Logan Matz
- To the incoming cohort, welcome to Eugene! You’ll be really busy in the program and there is a lot to learn. Think about how all this information is applicable to your goals, your teaching situation, and the students you will have. – Joana Jansen
- The term system in UO is much more intensive than the semester system, especially for those who are used to the semester system. Therefore, to reduce the stress, maybe start planning midterms and finals earlier so you don’t have to finish everything at once at the end. Try to think about the topic for your final MA project as early as possible and relate the work you’re doing for the current courses to it. – Krystal Lyau
- It is a good idea to not procrastinate things. Many things can come up as time goes, so do whatever you can when you have time. – Kunie Kellem
- My suggestion is to really stay in touch with what you personally want to get out of this program because one year will go by fast and before you know it you will be writing your final project. I would also suggest to read some other students’ final projects who have graduated. There are a few students who will be continuing their LTS program for a second year, so it could help to utilize their knowledge if needed (I am one of the students who will still be here). One last suggestion, I would read as much as possible and keep a list of all the readings you are doing. You can write notes about what each reading is for easy reference back to something that you may want to use in your final paper. Learn how to skim read because you may have some times when you just cannot read the entire reading in time, but also make sure that you know how to accurately site your resources. For me, one of my favorite things about grad school is research, research, and more research. Usually that means reading about other people’s actual research and I find that a lot of the work hinges on that, so get used to that right away. – Shayleen Eaglespeaker
Turn to each other as a resource
- Every previous cohort that I have observed since 2009 benefited from turning to each other as a resource to help each other with academics, paired projects and camaraderie. In addition to forming study groups, they have taken trips and hikes together, had parties and gained strength from the group. This helps almost everyone thrive in the short but intense program, and not only makes for life-long memories, but gives you a group of dedicated people you can continue to turn to after finishing the program and move to your next phase. – Prof. Laura Holland
- Really take the time to get to know your other cohort members. Make frequent efforts to study together, and most importantly, hang out together. They will be your greatest resource over the next year. Lee Huddleston
- Ask for help. You have a group of faculty and support staff in your program that want to help you. If you are struggling with anything, talk to someone. One of the biggest mistakes people sometimes make in a new program is waiting too long to ask for help. Big questions or small, just ask it! – Prof. Andy Halvorsen
- It is very helpful for some of the students to study together, since many of the classes will be with your cohort. – Shayleen Eaglespeaker
- Don’t hesitate to talk to your cohort or the faculty of the program if you are having some difficulties. They are all willing to help. – Krystal Lyau
- Go out with your friends or cohort every once in a while. Grabbing a coffee, drink or even sweets and talking with them can make you feel better. – Kunie Kellem
The final piece of advice comes from 2017-2019 LTS student Shayleen Eaglespeaker who says it is important to stay true to yourself and who you are. “Don’t be afraid to be different. Each person is coming from a different background and has a point of view that can offer a lot to your peers, so my advice would be to embrace that!”. Her words apply to the entire family, as this individuality and mix of backgrounds is what makes the LTS program so special. Congratulations again to those who graduated and best of luck to those who are just getting started. May you forever continue learning, challenging yourself, supporting your colleagues, and following your dreams.