The Linguistic Educator
“Education ultimately should allow you to get to know yourself more and understand those around you better. If that is the goal, you naturally will develop a caring attitude towards yourself and those around you.”
Hailing from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Leandro is the HS World Language Head of Department or what is known now as the Curriculum Area Leader at ISKL. Having joined ISKL in 2012, Leandro had an early interest in education from a young age and has published several articles about language learning, recently writing for the EARCOS (East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools) Triannual Journal.
Here is Leandro’s story:
Please tell us more about yourself.
I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1982.
I have always been interested in education as I learned from early on, back in primary school, that the best way for me to learn something was to try to teach it to my friends. My mother is a teacher and an inspiration to me, so I quickly became interested in becoming a teacher with this background. This happened early in college when I became a teaching assistant and a full-time teacher both at high school and university levels. I worked at Lincoln – the American School in Buenos Aires, Argentina, before coming to ISKL.
When and why did you join ISKL?
I joined ISKL in 2012 when the High School (HS) principal back then, Grant Millard, offered me a position as he had a late vacancy; he was looking for someone who could teach Social Studies in English while also being able to teach Spanish as a foreign language. I was very lucky as that was exactly what I was teaching at Lincoln.
I was interested in this position as I was looking for options to go abroad to teach, and I cannot feel but enormous gratitude and privilege for having joined ISKL. I couldn’t have been luckier to join as it is not only a great school, but it has an amazing community that my wife, my daughter, and I have enjoyed tremendously.
Please tell us more about your position as the HS World Languages Head of Department. What are your daily activities?
Approximately six years ago, I became the HS World Language Head of Department, or Curriculum Area Leader as it is called now. I wanted to see how I could positively impact our department by looking at what we could offer regarding languages and levels. Although this is very challenging, I find it amazing that ISKL can offer so many different languages at so many different levels, both as native proficiency and second language acquisition courses.
I am also interested in sharing with my colleagues what best practices are out there for the benefit of our ISKL students. It is also very interesting to me to have colleagues from diverse backgrounds teaching different languages. It is all very enriching.
We saw that you have written for the EARCOS Triannual Journal recently. Do tell us more?
I have published several articles about language learning before, including a book on strategies for teaching Spanish as a foreign language. Some topics I am interested in language acquisition are about motivation and memory. I am always interested in researching and writing as it informs my practice and that of others. To think that sharing such experiences with others can impact not only ISKL students but also others is something that I am very proud of.
Please tell us something you are working on now that you are excited about.
I am revisiting my lesson plans for all the classes I have taught for years, and it’s been exciting to make changes based on what worked in the past and see what new content and teaching strategies can be added as we revise the curriculum.
Working in learning teams to share the expertise in our HS World Languages department and having our Earth Club community recycling events back on campus and in person has also been great.
What is the most challenging part about your job?
Sometimes at the end of a particular class, you know that you could have done a better job or that you should have changed something from a specific lesson plan for things to have been better for students’ learning. This is the hardest part of being a teacher (besides all the grading!), but it helps as a motivation to keep aiming to improve things.
Can you tell us more about your hobbies and interests? What do you do after work?
I love swimming and am currently training for an open-water swim in Langkawi in December. I have done it in the past (I completed a 4 km open water swim in the ocean), but I look forward to improving my previous swimming results this time. Besides swimming, I love traveling and enjoy spending time with family and friends.
Who or what inspires you?
My mother, Susan, and my wife, Ana, are sources of inspiration as they have endless resilience and have taught me timeless lessons about life. Thanks to them, they have inspired me to become better at whichever role I have, whether as a son, a husband, a parent, or a friend.
Best memory (or most memorable moment) so far working at ISKL?
There are memories, most of which have happened during interactions with ISKL students, whether inside or outside the classroom. If I had to pick one right now, it would have to be outside the classroom, during a school trip for our Global Action Program (GAP) to Sri Lanka. The whole experience was outstanding, and we bonded so much during that trip that it was sad to see it end.
The other memorable moment would be modeling for ISKL’s 50th Gala Celebration on the catwalk!
What does ‘”Know yourself, care for all and create a better world”‘ mean to you?
To me, that resonates with self-knowledge through empathy. Education ultimately should allow you to get to know yourself more and understand those around you better. If that is the goal, you naturally will develop a caring attitude towards yourself and those around you. It’s about relationships and positively impacting academics and, more importantly, human relationships.
At the end of the day, as Maya Angelou once said, “you will remember how people made you feel.”
Do you know of any student, teacher, parent, or staff who always have an anecdote to tell, love to share some insights into their passions and interest, or simply is a Panther through and through? Nominate them to be featured in our Panthers of ISKL stories by sending in your submissions here.