Faculty Friday: Leah Boch

Harvard graduate. Innovative educator. And a faculty member of our World Languages Department. Spanish teacher Leah Boch shares a bit about herself and her educational philosophy, specifically the role of assessments in the classroom, below.

Educational Philosophy

When in the real world do you travel abroad and encounter a scenario in which someone gives you a sentence with something missing and you have to fill in the blank with the right vocabulary word or conjugated verb? Never, so then why is one of the default language assessment fill-in-the-blank questions? I believe that language classes in high school should prepare students for travel abroad and to feel confident speaking the language, whether that is to order food or to make new friends. So, while I haven’t thrown all fill-in-the-blank activities out the window (they are great for assessing a student’s understanding of vocabulary and grammar), I have moved towards using more open-ended unit assessments. For example, in one assessment students are composing emails and blog posts in which they have to demonstrate their knowledge of the grammatical topics studied that unit, but they have the freedom and flexibility to make them their own. The oral component of unit tests are interactive and reflective of real world scenarios students may encounter abroad. Most recently Spanish II students had to go shopping at Tienda Boch, where they had to ask for different sizes and colors, haggle for better prices and “purchase” at least two items. The shopkeeper (i.e. me) spoke absolutely no English so the students had to figure out a way to use circumlocution and gestures to get their ideas across. It made for a fun and memorable testing experience.

Background and Education

I graduated from Harvard College in 2009 with a BA in Social Anthropology. I wrote my honors senior paper on açaí, a berry native to Brazil that had recently gained fame in the United States as the next superfood.

My first introduction to private school was when I transferred to Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island in 7th grade. While I was at Moses Brown, I spent a year studying abroad in Zaragoza, Spain with School Year Abroad, which was where I fell in love with the Spanish language and the ability to truly immerse oneself in another culture. Since then I have continued to travel and live abroad, spending time in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Brazil, Chile and most recently Madrid, Spain where I finished my Master’s in Spanish Language and Education through Middlebury College.

Favorite thing about WMS

The focus on inquiry, as well as the Field Courses, are two of my favorite academic aspects of WMS, but the community and the students are a daily highlight as well.

Favorite place on campus

The far end of Edge Field–the view is spectacular no matter what season it is.

Fun Fact

I wear matching mismatched socks almost everyday.

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