Dr. Próspero N. García (assistant professor, Foreign Languages) compares creating learning goals for his classes to the process of cooking a good meal: if you’re not sure what you’re cooking from the beginning, you won’t know what ingredients you need. Keeping this in mind, he carefully considers the overall objective of the course and then plans each class meeting to have micro goals connected to the course’s larger goals. When he has clear learning goals from the outset, he finds his students are much better able to navigate the often difficult material that he is presenting. For example, in a course he is currently teaching on technology in the second language classroom, his learning goals help to keep students focused not on the individual technological applications under discussion but on the larger goal of gaining the ability to discern how and when to appropriately use them in the classroom.
One of the learning goals in many of his classes is to bring linguistic theory into practice. The larger metalinguistic ideas taught in his classes are important for students to grasp, but, since their ultimate goal is to themselves be teachers, he gives them ample opportunities to apply the theories to classroom situations. After discussing the broader theoretical frameworks and underpinnings of certain language learning theories, he asks students to learn programming and actually delve into developing pedagogical tools for their own teaching practices, hence becoming researchers and practitioners. Finally, García keeps in mind who his students are: current or future teachers in L2 classrooms. Their feedback and experience cause him to constantly reevaluate his own teaching methods to ensure he is giving them the best chance for success in their own classrooms.