Moving Forward Together
By: Carol Gaab
True leaders–the ones that bring out the best in people and inspire them to do their best– often don’t even consider themselves leaders. Some don’t even want to be leaders. Sometimes the intent is simply to inspire positive change in the world and to do so with integrity. Being a leader means that you are no longer operating solely by your own standards of excellence, integrity and ethics; you are also being guided by the judgments of those you lead, those you serve.
The Fluency Matters team never set out to be leaders. We started with nothing but a desire to learn, grow and create. Our focus was on learning all that we could about our students, language acquisition, and teaching languages. We had no idea that our little publishing company would become Fluency Matters, still just a small publishing company but one that has become ‘big’ in terms of influencing how languages are taught and providing high-quality materials that are conducive to language acquisition. Being a leader –whether or not we planned or wanted to be one– comes with great responsibility and high expectations. No one places higher expectations on the Fluency Matters team than we place on ourselves. We are continually learning and growing as we work with more authors, teachers, readers, and editors.
Although we have come a long way, we recognize there is still work to be done, improvements to be made and new perspectives to be included and shared. We acknowledge that having positive intentions is not good enough. We are grateful to colleagues whose keen eyes help us reflect, improve, and diversify past and future publications to make sure that they represent and inspire all learners. Thank you for trusting our INTEGRITY OF INTENT as we strive to produce compelling comprehensible materials that empower learners and inspire them to contribute to their class, community and world in positive ways.
Thank you to those who shared great ideas, unique insight and powerful suggestions for creating and/or improving materials. WE HAVE BEEN LISTENING! Thank you to those French teachers who brought to our attention some problematic illustrations in Brandon Brown à la conquête de Québec and Le vol des oiseaux. We realize that those illustrations did not reflect the diversity-positive message that we strive for, and those illustrations have been re-rendered. Illustrations in Brandon Brown versus Yucatan are also in the process of revision, and we will make an announcement when the updated version is available.
As we endeavored to further audit artwork, a teacher pointed out that while not offensive, a book cover did not necessarily reflect true skin tones of some of the subjects on the cover. This helped us to discover another nuance in the printing process and we have since contracted an artist to re-render the colors for more realistic skin tones. The cover will be updated in the next printing.
We are deeply grateful to the insightful and passionate colleagues who support our work and challenge us to view it through a variety of lenses. You have inspired us to put a plan in place to do more rigorous independent audits of texts and illustrations to make sure that they represent diverse perspectives and inspire inclusivity, equity and equality. We want the students who acquire language with our materials to see themselves represented, and represented in a positive light.
As we continue to expand perspectives and representation in our authors (9 new authors in 2019 and 4 already in 2020), we are committed to further diversification of our team. If you have a story to tell, a blog post you would like to submit for consideration, or questions about our mission and materials, please reach out to us at info@FluencyMatters.com.
Fluency Matters is also the sponsor and organizer of the iFLT conference. As organizers of iFLT, we have made a concerted effort to make sure our pool of presenters better reflects the diversity that we see in our classrooms. We are encouraged by these improvements and excited to see the far-reaching effects that growing inclusivity and collaboration will have on language education. Are we done with this work? Certainly not! This is a process that we will continue to pursue now and in the future.
Thank you to all of you who have stood with us, learned with us, shared with us, taught and supported us through highs, lows and growing pains. It is through this professional collaboration and evaluation that we realize that while good intentions are noble, being intentional in our actions is critical.
Twenty years ago, I (Carol Gaab) started this business because there was an inexplicable burning in my soul to help ALL learners see that regardless of their educational background, literacy level, economic status or ethnicity, they really could become proficient in another language. I am grateful and honored to stand shoulder to shoulder with thousands of other teachers who share these ideals. TOGETHER we help to make the world a better place.
Fluency Matters Mission Statement
TRANSFORM WORLD LANGUAGE EDUCATION THROUGH ACQUISITION-DRIVEN MATERIALS AND TEACHER TRAINING.
INSPIRE AND EMPOWER ALL PEOPLE TO ACQUIRE LANGUAGE(S) AND UNDERSTAND CULTURAL PERSPECTIVES THROUGH RESOURCES THAT ARE ABSOLUTELY COMPELLING, 100% ENJOYABLE, INHERENTLY EQUITABLE, AND NATURALLY CONDUCIVE TO DEVELOPING FLUENCY.
CREATE A NATION OF GLOBALLY-MINDED AND COMMUNICATIVELY AND CULTURALLY COMPETENT INDIVIDUALS.