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  • 25 Feb 2023 2:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Authored by Hali Massey, VATESOL Adult Education SIG Leader

    When planning for adult English language instruction, it is important to consider how to make classroom materials and activities relevant to the real lives of learners. Given that we live in a world that is dominated by technology, it is inevitable that learners will be asked to use different forms of technology in English. When navigating life in the United States, multilingual learners will need to be able to perform tasks using the internet, digital tools, smartphones, laptops, etc. Depending on their prior exposure to technology and using technology for specific purposes, these skills and tasks may be new to learners. 

    Because adult ESOL curricula are typically thematic units that focus on various aspects of adult life in the United States, we can analyze our curriculum to look for areas where digital literacy instruction, materials, and activities would benefit our learners and enhance our instruction. 

    Examples of aligning digital literacy skills to adult ESOL curriculum include: 

    Learning the alphabet 

    • Using keyboards (images or realia) to learn and practice letter recognition 

    Navigating local community 

    • Using a map on a smartphone or computer to look up local places in the community

    • Using a map on a smartphone or computer to navigate directions to and from local places in the community 

    • Using a map on a smartphone or computer to create local community maps

    Discussing weekly schedules and routines 

    • Using a calendar on a smartphone or computer to locate days and times and schedule appointments. 

    Discussing money 

    • Using a calculator on a smartphone or computer to calculate amounts and percentages.

    Instructional practices for integrating digital literacy into the adult ESOL classroom: 

    • Orientation: Spend time orienting learners to digital platforms and tools in the classroom, in-person, and in their home language(s) whenever possible.

    • Explicit instruction: Explicitly teach tools and vocabulary needed to engage in digital literacy skills - use images and realia to scaffold understanding.

    • Familiar tools: Start with tools and platforms that learners have experience using or at least exposure to.

    • Authentic tasks and skills: Utilize authentic digital tasks and skills in the classroom that mimic those that learners need in the real world.

    For resources that assist with integrating digital literacy into the adult English language classroom, please see the members only resource section on the VATESOL website.

  • 05 Feb 2023 3:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Authored by, Laura Lewis, VATESOL President

    End of January into March is the time when K-12 ESOL teachers throughout Virginia are stressing about the WIDA Access test. I know I have been since November when I put together my testing schedule. Have new students entered our school since then, of course! Did I schedule one of my testing days on a county PD day when we will not have students, of course! Luckily, I did come across some of my most valued resources that I have cultivated over the years to help me administer this test. Some are .pdf's pulled from the WIDA site--like the test administrator script-- and one is a wonderful powerpoint on the "Why" and "What" behind the Access test that you can share with your school building or district. Full disclosure I am not sure where I got this powerpoint. To have access to these resources go to Members' Area section of our website. Good luck with your testing season!

  • 03 Feb 2023 2:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Authored by Katya Koubek, VATESOL Teacher Education SIG Leader

    As we are slowly emerging from a three-year pandemic, the topic of social-emotional learning continues to play an important role in the TESOL field. No matter where we teach, many educators and students have experienced the effect of the pandemic, especially on their mental health. In many schools, mindfulness has become an essential topic of educators’ professional development. In an overview of top 8 TESOL PD topics from the 2022 year, Dr. Laura Baecher has revealed the topics of mindfulness and overcoming teacher burnout as part of this list. 

    As a teacher educator, I remember attending a virtual TESOL 2021 conference in which Dr. Janet Zadina discussed the pandemic brain and science behind optimal learning. As a result of her mindfulness practices with her virtual audience, I learned the techniques to help my students and myself rewire our brains and mitigate anxiety, which in the long run can help with a more positive outlook on life. These techniques adaptable to other educational contexts outside of higher education include the following steps: 

    1. Play 60-beat instrumental music as students come to class and have it on during the next mindfulness steps. YouTube is an excellent free source for such music, especially coffee shop jazz..

    2. Ask students to sit straight with feet down on the floor and one hand on their chest and the other on the stomach to do some breathing techniques. Encourage them to close or partially close their eyes to practice the 4-7-8 breathing technique (four seconds inhale through one’s nose, 7 second to hold one’s breath, and 8 seconds exhale through one’s mouth). Repeat this technique 6 times. This technique is suitable for adults, but not for younger children. In addition, if students cannot hold their breath or have heart problems, encourage them to breathe naturally instead.

    3. Switch to natural breathing for an additional minute or twoContinue to sit straight with partially closed or fully closed eyes.

    4. The final step involves gratitude where students write down three gratitude notes. By varying these gratitude notes, students help rewire their brains to mitigate their anxiety and stress, which in the long run will improve their sleep, health, and learning in general. While these gratitude notes are private, students are encouraged to share them with the whole class if desired.

    As someone who has been practicing mindfulness in all my undergraduate and graduate courses, I can attest that students perceive them as beneficial to their learning and overall health based on survey results gathered over several years (Koubek, 2021, 2022). By teaching our students mindfulness techniques, we can help our students develop better coping mechanisms to deal with the effects of the pandemic and have a brighter outlook on their lives. 


    Baecher, L. (2022, December 27). Top 8 PD topics for English language teachers in 2022. TESOL blog. 

    Koubek, E. (2021). (Re)Imagining remote teaching and learning: Meeting students where they are. In J. Davis & C. Irish (Eds.), Lessons from the pivot: Higher education’s response to the pandemic.

    Koubek, E. (2022). Enacting an ethic of care as a TESOL teacher educator. In M. Shoffner and A. Webb (Eds.), Reconstructing care in teacher education after COVID-19. Routledge.

    Zadina, J. (2021, March). The pandemic brain: Science and strategies for optimal learning. Keynote. Virtual TESOL Convention. 

  • 10 Jan 2023 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Authored by Kathryn Manning, VATESOL K-12 SIG Leader  

    As we recalibrate ourselves to adding 23 to the end of the year, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on the previous years and the value of change. It’s hard to believe it's been three whole years since COVID shifted instructional norms.  At the same time that we dove into virtual learning, the ELL world also saw the introduction of new WIDA language standards, yet another change to be navigated.

    As an educator, getting a 200+ page  book packed full of shiny new standards can be a bit daunting, not to mention hefty. Once I got to work perusing the grade clusters and appreciating the color-packed and visual layout (WIDA never disappoints) it ended up being a refreshing and welcome change. With the latest 2020 ELD Standards update rolled out by WIDA, the task shifted to not just revamping my own instruction to be more intentional about language features and uses, but also getting my fellow teachers onboard the language standards train as well. To this end, I’ve found that the standards not only inform my own instruction and assessment of ELs, but also that of my content teacher colleagues as well.  As demonstrated in my presentation at the Title III Consortium Conference last year, having ELD standards embedded within instruction benefits not just ELs, but all learners, a fact that my co-presenter and content co-teacher gladly hammered on at least five times (we kept mental tally marks) during our sessions. 

    In our co-planning we found that crafting authentic tasks (e.g. delivering a final verdict on a murder case) most easily facilitated incorporating language use within units. Once a language use was identified, we could then hold all learners accountable for academic language features through explicit instruction and modeling.  By utilizing the ELD Standards bible (as I now call it), ELs were held to high expectations and academic rigor within each unit with supports embedded to further encourage and support language growth.  With the continued chant of “good for all learners, but especially ELs”, K-12 educators can embrace the ELD standards in conjunction with Standards of Learning in our new era where all teachers support language standards, not just ELL teachers.

    As we step into this new year, with some of us leaping while others may shuffle forward, still testing the waters, I encourage all of you to take a moment to reflect on the change that has happened up to this point, perhaps even finding new opportunities for growth. Three years ago as a newly-minted ELL teacher establishing the first LIEP at my school, collaboration with the standards seemed near impossible, as I was introduced at my first staff meeting not as a resource for supporting lessons, but as essentially the “ELL test giver”. Since then, through small, yet intentional steps, I have established norms for co-planning and coteaching with the ELD standards.  All this to say, we are all working continuously with our learners, administrators, and content teachers to enact positive change. While sometimes it can feel like we’re stuck and not progressing, often all it takes is a little more time and the grace to accept that the work we do does have impact.

  • 06 Dec 2022 7:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Kara Friedel is in her fourth year as the ESL Secondary Support Specialist for Chesterfield County Public Schools. She taught ESL for 8 years in elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as Adult ESL classes. Kara is a member of VESA and WELV. She is a proud Hokie who is now pursuing her master’s in Administration and Supervision through the University of Virginia. Kara is a proud wife, mom, and dog mom to her golden retriever, Kix. 

    Kara looks forward to serving in her role on the VATESOL board as Membership Chair.  

    Kathryn Manning currently works at the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind as an ELL Teacher. A self-professed language nerd, she taught English in Japan for three years before returning to the U.S. in 2017 to pursue her degree in MAT TESOL Education. While opportunities to use Japanese are rare in her current setting, she enjoys innovating with ASL and Braille to support dually identified English Learners, sometimes even outside the classroom during cross country or blind soccer practice.

    Kathryn looks forward to serving in her role on the VATESOL board as K-12 SIG.

    This is Max Nikoolkan's fifth year serving as an elementary ESL/ELL teacher for Loudoun County Public school as well as his second year as an ESL/ELL Adult Instructor. Previously, he has served as Asian American Chair of the Equity Committee for Loudoun County Public Schools and continues to serve as co-equity leady for his own school site. Before public school teaching, he previously received a Fulbright to teach English in South Korea and taught English in Japan through the JET Program.

    Max looks forward to serving in his role on the VATESOL board as Blog Editor.

  • 08 Aug 2022 8:00 AM | Anonymous member

    Authored by Katya Koubek, VATESOL Teacher Education SIG Leader  

    VATESOL is excited to bring a SETESOL conference to Virginia on October 12- 15 this year! VATESOL is among 11 states that are part of SETESOL. These states are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Last time our organization had an honor to bring this conference to Virginia was in 2011. As a member of VATESOL Board of Directors, I would like to share my top 5 reasons to attend this year’s SETESOL conference in Richmond, Virginia.


    1.     Learn from experts in the field


    There is nothing more exciting than learning about the latest research and instructional practices from educational experts in the field whether these are professors, administrators, exhibitors, or teachers. This type of learning is exhilarating to one’s mental health and brain and serves as a catalyst for change in instructional and methodological practices. Three days of the conference will surely enrich everyone with new skills and knowledge on how to support multilingual learners in various educational contexts.


    2.     Network by meeting old and new colleagues


    Since this conference is going to attract attendees from the above-mentioned SETESOL states, there will be plenty of opportunities to meet new colleagues and reconnect with your old friends. By interacting with like-minded individuals, there is a greater chance that new projects and ideas will be generated and potentially pursued, thus contributing to the dissemination of new research and evidence-based practices.


    3.     Exchange ideas on what matters the most to you


    While attending a conference is fulfilling in its own way, presenting and sharing ideas with others on one’s latest projects is even more exhilarating. Having an opportunity to hear others’ opinions on your projects stimulate further thinking that can potentially increase the quality of these projects and provide avenues for their dissemination.


    4.     Boost your resume and invest in yourself


    Whether you need professional credits to maintain your license or are required to demonstrate your professional development on your annual review, this conference can cover it all! By attending and/or presenting at this conference, you are taking a step further to enhance your resume or CV, which also serves as a good sign to your employer that you are willing to expand your knowledge, learn, and improve.


    5.     Visit a new place and have fun!


    It is essential to decompress and relax while attending conferences! These professional development opportunities while brain-stimulating can be overly exhausting. Therefore, it is paramount to take time for yourself to have fun exploring a new place, enjoying a nice meal, or just strolling along the streets of a new city. Having this SETESOL conference in Richmond guarantees that everyone will find something to enjoy in the capital of Virginia – whether you are interested in shopping, eating out, or sightseeing.


    In sum, these are my top five reasons for attending the SETESOL conference in Richmond, VA this fall.  The bottom line is whatever your reasons are to attend this conference, we would like to extend a warm welcome to you and your colleagues and to ensure that your stay with us is memorable and rich with new knowledge, skills, and professional opportunities. On behalf of the VATESOL Board of Directors, I hope to see you at SETESOL on October 12 -15 this year!


  • 11 Apr 2022 1:45 PM | Anonymous

    Authored by WendySue Claussen, VATESOL President, ESL Teacher in Virginia Beach 

    Advocacy is defined by the dictionary as “the act of speaking on the behalf of or in support of another person, place, or thing”.
    I completely agree with this definition, and I truly feel that as an educator of multilingual learners this is our duty. We wear many hats as teachers, but I feel being an advocate is one of the most important roles that we play in the lives of our students.
    Please see below for some of the ways that I have been involved with advocacy for my students and families. I hope this blog will spark some ideas for you in ways that you can help advocate for your students.

    School Level

    • Coach/train your homeroom teachers in your buildings how to differentiate independent work for your language learners.
    • Connect with other specialists in the building (i.e. Math and Reading Specialists) to discuss the best way to meet the needs of your students.
    • Collaborate with the Library Media Specialist in your building to ensure that there is a multilingual book section offered in the library.
    • Teach colleagues how to obtain translation services (i.e., our district uses Voiance) for conversations, conferences, and connections with families.
    • Suggest building administrators order signage in other languages so all students feel valued. In our school the whole building is labeled in Spanish as well as English.
    Family Level:
    • Host parent outreach meetings to connect with families.
    • Find a way to communicate with all families to make sure they know about events happening in the school: PTA events, kindergarten registration, concerts, etc.…. I personally use the TalkingPoints App. Which allows me to communicate with families in their native language. Many homeroom teachers use Seewsaw to translate messages for parents.
    • Offer to help the school social worker contact families that may need help. I have even gone on home visits and doctors appointments.
    • Find ways to have important paperwork sent home in native language whenever possible.
    • Collaborate with school counselor and/or school social worker to make sure families know what community resources are available (i.e.,  food banks, clothing drives, utility bill assistance, WIFI connection, etc.….).

    Community Level:

    • Reach out to community members to see if they are willing to volunteer at your school.
    • Utilize your Partners in Education companies to be part of the school community (i.e., participate in PTA events, make donations, volunteer, etc.…)
    • Invite local heroes (i.e., FD, PD, EMTs) to be guest readers at your school or attend celebrations at your school.
    • Arrange for a mentorship program with local heroes (i.e., at my school we had bi-lingual sheriffs be mentors for our ESL kids).
    • Speak at school board meetings when necessary to stand up for your students.

  • 17 Mar 2022 9:26 AM | Anonymous

    Authored by Hali Massey, Adult Education SIG Chair, ESOL Specialist at the Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center. 

    In adult ESOL education, we often talk about learners’ funds of knowledge and ensuring that our instruction is relevant to the lives and goals of our learners. However, when we discuss our learners, their proficiency levels, and their needs, we often use language that focuses on learner deficits versus focusing on the assets that learners are bringing into the classroom. This language and associated mindset has an impact not only on instruction but on how learners view themselves and their language learning journey. 

    With that being said, how can ESOL instructors shift their mindsets so that they are leveraging the funds of knowledge of  learners in English language learning classrooms? Here are four instructional practices that allow English language instructors to bring learners’ assets to the forefront of the classroom and the language learning journey as a starting point for further developing proficiency in English. 

    1. Assess Assets

    In adult education, there tends to be a focus on pre and post testing learners and on how learners can increase their proficiency levels for reporting purposes. While understanding where our learners are on the spectrum of English language proficiency is vital to delivering effective instruction, understanding how learners are already engaging with English in their everyday lives can also have a significant impact on instruction. 

    Asset Assessment: Instructors can administer an asset assessment, which is similar to a needs assessment, but instead, it allows learners the opportunity to share their experiences and strengths when it comes to engaging with the English language. Instructors can then use “I can” statements from learners to include familiar content and linguistic features in the classroom in order to build learner confidence before moving onto more challenging content. 

    Questions for an asset assessment can include but are not limited to:

    1. Where can you use English?

    2. Where can you understand English?

    3. Who can you speak English with? 

    4. What can you read in English? 

    Instructors can use images and provide options to scaffold these questions for learners at the beginning or literacy levels of proficiency. 

    In addition, instructors can also ask learners what content they have knowledge in, both in English and in other languages. For example, what career or education experiences they have. This information can be used to ensure that this identified content is being integrated into the classroom.

    2. Incorporate Learner Voice into the Classroom

    Instructors can provide opportunities for learners to share their voice, stories, and narratives in the classroom. This allows learners to feel validated in their life experiences and creates opportunities for learners to be the subject matter expert in the classroom. 

    The Language Experience Approach: Using the Language Experience Approach (LEA) is a very effective activity for giving voice to learners at all proficiency levels. This is an activity where instructors ask learners to share a story verbally while the instructor or a peer writes the story down. This activity results in student generated texts that can be used for further learning activities. The benefits of this activity include the fact that the student generated text includes vocabulary and grammatical structures that are familiar to learners and that can be used as a place to grow that language knowledge from.

    Response prompts: Another strategy for incorporating learner voice and experience into the classroom is to use problem-solution, growth-mindset, and suggestion prompts that allow learners to share their thoughts, opinions, and experiences on a focused-them. Instructors need to ensure that these prompts are relevant to the current topic of the classroom content and to adult life in general. In addition, instructors can scaffold these prompts with images or videos.

    Example prompts: 

    1. Share a time when you solved a problem. What was the problem? How did you solve it? 

    2. Tell us about a time when you were lost. Where were you going? How did you find your way?

    3. Instructor presents a photo or a text of a person with a flat tire and asks learners to identify the problem and potential solutions. 

    4. Instructor presents a photo or a text of a person who is sick and asks learners to provide suggestions for what that person should do. 

    This resource provides examples of incorporating learner voice into the adult ESOL classroom.

    3. Learner Self-Assessment 

    Another strategy for highlighting and leveraging student assets is to provide opportunities for learners to self assess their own progress.

    Exit Tickets: Instructors can provide exit tickets after lessons for learners to indicate what they understood and what they would like to explore more. Using positive and asset based language for these activities is key so that learners do not feel demotivated by this reflection. For example, instructors can ask learners for a glow, something that is going well and a strength, and for a grow, an area that they want to keep improving and focusing on. These also lend themselves well to visual representations which helps to scaffold these more abstract ideas. 

    K-W-L Chart: Instructors can also use a K-W-L chart for self-assessment which asks learners to indicate what they know (K) and what they want to learn or wonder (W) about a topic and then reflect on the topic after a lesson or series of lessons by indicating what they learned (L).

    Goal-Setting Activities: Integrating goal-setting activities into the classroom provides learners with the opportunity to reflect on where they are and where they would like to go. In adult education, we place a lot of emphasis on college and career readiness and ensuring that our learners continue their education past English language classes, but it is important to understand what language goals learners have and how those goals can be used to provide support in pursuing larger life goals. This resource provides lesson plans for goal setting with adult English language learners. 

    These activities and strategies also help learners shift from dependent to independent learners which aligns with the goal of delivering culturally responsive education.

    4. Utilize Learner Heritage Language in the Classroom

    One asset that all of our English learners are bringing into the classroom is that they already speak a different language. Whether they are literate or not in their heritage language is a consideration, but even if they are not literate, they are fluent in at least one other language. English language instructors can leverage our learners’ language abilities for developing proficiency in English. 

    Instructors can encourage the use of heritage languages in the ESOL classroom by: 

    1. Asking learners to take notes during class in their heritage language. 

    2. Asking learners to journal and self-reflect on their learning progress using their heritage language. 

    3. Partner learners by heritage language to provide scaffolding for vocabulary or reading activities. 

    This webinar presents additional opportunities for using heritage languages in the classroom. 

  • 28 Feb 2022 3:59 PM | Anonymous

    Authored by Laura Lewis VATESOL 1st Vice President 

    “We each must do the ‘inside-out’ work required: developing the right mindset, engaging in self-reflection, checking our implicit biases, practicing social-emotional awareness, and holding an inquiry stance regarding the impact

    I am a middle school ESOL teacher in the Albemarle County Public School district. In September of 2019 I completed the work to earn a micro-credential in Culturally Responsive Teaching. Our school district had begun this program several years earlier. These are some of the reflections I put in my final essay towards completion of the credential. of our interactions on students (p.53).”

    ... I am sitting in the dining room of the Double Tree staring at the “ACPS Culturally Responsive Educator Self-Assessment 2018-19” at a table of colleagues from Burley, including my co-ESOL teacher. Up until this year I have been the only ESOL teacher at Burley. Having another teacher to carry our caseload of ELLs has given me the breathing space to be at this meeting, to consider working toward a micro-credential in Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT). I want answers to today’s essential questions:

    How can I use my understanding of the different layers of culture to make my teaching more culturally relevant to students?

    What is my own cultural lens and how does it either connect or disconnect to the culture of my students?

    How will you make intentional shifts in your practice to build learning shifts in your practice to build learning partnerships with students? With Parents?

     At the center of this training is a book, Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students by Zaretta Hammond. The title and table of contents promises all the things I want to achieve as a teacher: to be responsive to my students culture; to consider neuroscience and what the findings of brain research have to say about engagement and integration of new knowledge; to authentically engage my students while setting high, rigorous expectations; to teach the students that walk through my classroom door every day--culturally and linguistically diverse people.

    I have made changes because of Hammond’s book. In addition to reading in group: we have wide-ranging discussion, I don’t really implement a “raise-your-hand” policy unless it gets out of control; I allow music--either listening with earphones while writing or working on a poster” or I’ll play music from my spotify account while students are working together; I allow students to get up and move around and visit each other during brain breaks; We play jeopardy and kahoot games as a way to study vocabulary, reading comprehension strategies and spelling words. “Collectivist cultural practices have reinforced this natural tendency and deepen the brain’s hardwiring for relationships. This system encourages social bonding through the release of hormones such as oxytocin when we are in the presence of others. Social activities such as laughing, talking, and even hugging release oxytocin, the bonding hormone (p.44).”

    In conclusion, CRT Characteristic #2 states “CR teachers maintain high expectations and support all students to achieve rigorous academic goals.” I have worked to build trust with my students. I have worked to select texts and create assignments that ask them to reflect on the world around them and their own lives. I feel the connections my students are making show that they are reading to learn and connecting with their reading. For students who are reading several grades below their peers this is a huge success. During our “jigsaw” students had to read to learn and then report what they had learned with their partner to their peers using a poster they had created (Appendix: Refugee: Jigsaw posters). What I have learned from my students is the importance of play and partner and small group work.  Next year, I will focus on the idea of integrating aspects of play into all of our cognitive routines to help students “chew on” content for active processing.


    Hammond, Z. (2015). Culturally responsive teaching and the brain: Promoting authentic engagement and rigor among culturally and linguistically diverse students. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin.

  • 11 Feb 2022 9:16 PM | Anonymous

    Authored by Brooke Boutwell, VATESOL K-12 SIG Chair 

    Every student walks into our classroom with valuable experiences and cultures that are assets to any learning environment. How teachers recognize and support our students’ identities is crucial to their developing attitudes towards education. 

    These ideas are not the end-all be-all. There are so many ways to value your students. But if you’re looking for a place to start, here are a few ideas. 

    Diversify your Classroom Library

    Our students’ identities and experiences are diverse, therefore the literature available to students to read should be equally as diverse. Classroom libraries should consist of a variety of literature that appeals to all students. Expanding the medium available to students to include novels, magazines, picture books, graphic novels, magazines, newspapers, e-books, etc.,  not only increases the variety of information available to students, but it also increases the accessibility of literacy to students from all backgrounds. 

    But don’t stop there. Does your classroom library include diverse authors? Diverse characters? Do you have linguistically diverse books available? Students need windows and mirrors in the texts they read. They need to see authors and characters that look and sound like them, and they need the opportunity to see differing perspectives than their own. When they have these options available to them in a classroom library, they have the opportunity to learn more about their own experiences, as well as empathize and understand people who have had different experiences.  

    Classroom Environment & Decor

    Teachers’ classrooms typically represent the culture and experience of the teacher. For example, many teachers have flags of the colleges they attended, posters of their favorite sports teams, pictures of their families, etc. While this is the teacher’s space and these items are welcomed to build relationships with students and spark potential connections, it is vital to remember that the classroom is not just a space for teachers. Our classrooms are also our students’ safe space. Their identities need to be reflected on the walls as well. 

    Take a minute to look around your classroom. Ask yourself, does my space make ALL students feel like they belong? Some potential ways to make improvements in this area are to include anchor charts and posters that are both culturally and linguistically diverse. Do you have the traditional Rosie the Riveter poster on your wall in your social studies classroom? Did you know there is a “Si Se Puede” version available too? Maybe you have a quote on the wall of your English classroom. Ask one of your multilingual learners to translate the quote into their home language and make a poster if they feel comfortable. This is a great way to include students in the process of creating an equitable environment where students see people who look and sound like them. The more welcome and celebrated students feel in the classroom, the more likely they are to feel comfortable taking risks in the classroom. 

    Connect with Parents & Community

    Most schools harp on parent and community engagement, yet it tends to constantly be an area of weakness. Many educators and administrators find themselves asking how they can get parents more involved. While I do not have the perfect answer, and every school is going to be different, here are some areas to consider when discussing parent and community involvement in your own setting. 

    Do you have multilingual learners in your classroom? Do you have former multilingual learners in your classroom? Do you have students who were never identified as multilingual learners, but their parents speak another language at home? Identifying and honoring the language parents prefer to be contacted in is not only required by law, but it is also a huge step in forming relationships with parents. This information is usually found on the Home Language Survey, but if you are not sure, ask your students. This information is crucial for all teachers to know, so making a list at the beginning of the year and distributing it to staff would be beneficial. There are many translation and interpretation services available, from Voiance to Talking Points. Whichever service you or your school uses, make sure all staff and parents are familiar with using the technology. 

    Connect with parents and the community by making them a part of your lessons. Do you include families and the community in your teaching? In a COVID-19 world, this can be challenging, but there are options to include guest speakers through video chat platforms. Invite family members to participate as guest speakers to support the content or language you are teaching. Are you discussing a societal or global topic? Invite someone with firsthand experience to come talk about it. 

    Students don’t walk into a school and leave their identities at home. We must advocate and continuously look for ways to connect with our students and celebrate their diversity. 

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