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  • 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. 

  • 25 Aug 2021 8:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Authored by Dr. Jana More, VATESOL President 

    I always love a good chance to learn and grow, and on June 15th and 16th, the VDOE certainly delivered an amazingly informative program. The 2021 Summer Education Equity Institute focused on Teaching African American History through Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies, as well as Culturally Responsive and Inclusive Education Practices. My first thoughts were that while these were very informative talks, they might not have a lot to do with language learners, or perhaps only tangentially. Boy, was I wrong!

    So I supposed right off I should mention that there were so many wonderful speakers, and just not the time or ability to listen to them all. I tried to choose from a collection of speakers around the country, with varied experiences and backgrounds. Should I name drop here? I don’t know...they were all so good, and I just could not pick out one or two who were “more fantastic than the others.” They were all unified in that history matters. Not just one person or culture’s history, but all the stories from history matter. And if we do not seek them out, they may remain hidden.

    I think of my students, whether born in the U.S. or elsewhere, who come with their stories. These stories make up who they are, and need to be told by them. I know, I know, we always say this. Of course we do this! But here’s the thing...

    Am I really listening to my students and their stories?

    Or am I jumping in and taking over their story because I have heard as much as I can take in? Am I really listening to their story, or am I using it to label them as well as the expectations for them? Am I really listening to their story and appreciating how much they have to offer? Am I listening?

    The other lesson I took away from the conference was the need to show how our students have role models from history, if we help bring them to light. History tends to be written by the victors, and the majority culture or race. Oftentimes, it eradicates minorities simply by not mentioning them at all. It is so important that as educators we help our students see where their race, culture, and ethnic groups fit into history.

    Take, for example, the past thirty years of American history. Who helped shape that? Was it only one race or ethnic group? Or were the advances of this nation possible because people of all races and ethnicities contributed and were a part of that? Our students need to know that many different individuals from many different cultures have played important roles in our history. These are role models.

  • 22 Jul 2021 10:10 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Virginia TESOL practitioners now span the globe. Rebecca Raab shares about her recent journey to accepting a teacher educator position at the College of the Marshall Islands. Rebecca served as the president of Virginia TESOL from 2018-2020. She currently serves in the role of past president and nominating chair.

    Tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up in the TESOL field:

    I was an anthropology major in undergrad and was bitten by the travel bug very early in life, so I’ve always been fascinated by different cultures and languages. However, I didn’t feel a strong pull to complete an advanced degree in anthropology. About 6 months after graduating, several of my friends left to teach in Japan. This got me thinking about teaching English internationally. My mother, a former K-12 English teacher, advised me to get a teaching license as it would be a credential I could always use. Thus, I began a master’s program at Virginia Tech in ESL with every intention of teaching abroad. Student teaching at Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke, Virginia, however, made me fall in love with teaching multilingual learners in US K-12 settings, and I decided to teach in the US for several years, thinking that eventually I would go abroad. My career and life then took some interesting turns, with TESOL being the constant. I’ve taught K-12 multilingual learners in VA and NC, and I was the Director of Writing Support and ESL programs at Averett University. I completed my PhD at Virginia Tech in Curriculum and Instruction studying the experiences and supports of new ESL and bilingual education teachers in 2020.

    What led you to accepting your new position in the Marshall Islands?

    When I was close to finishing my PhD, I entered the wild west of the higher education job market. I applied to schools all over the US and abroad. However, I vividly remember the April 2020 afternoon when I saw the job posting for the College of the Marshall Islands (CMI) on HigherEdJobs. I just knew I had to apply, and I felt that it was where I needed to be - I felt physically pulled to apply. The pandemic, however, made things challenging. I was interviewed in July of 2020, but due to the pandemic, CMI could not move ahead as the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) had closed its borders (and they are still closed as of July 2021). I was disappointed, but still determined to go abroad. Luckily, I had the opportunity to teach at Radford University as a 1-year full-time temporary hire for the 2020-2021 academic year, and I spent the fall of 2020 researching other opportunities internationally. Then on January 13, 2021, exactly 6 months after my last contact with CMI, they emailed me asking if I was still interested in the position. Yes--yes I was!

    What will your job look like?

    We are finalizing my schedule in the next week or two, so I’m not 100% sure of what courses I’ll be teaching. However, CMI is a community college that has an associates and bachelors degree program in elementary education, so I will be teaching courses across the elementary education department. I’m really excited because it looks like I’ll have a number of practicum students which means I’ll be spending quite a bit of time in the local schools observing future teachers learning to teach! This is a great video about CMI and some Marshallese history.

    Tell us more about the Marshall Islands - a country that many readers may have never heard of. What have you learned or experienced there so far?

    To learn more about the Marshall Islands, Google them! I didn’t know much at all, but the US used several of the atolls during the nuclear arms race in the 1940s-60s as a testing ground. Many were forced to leave their homes and can never return due to nuclear contamination. Because of this, the US government provides aid to the RMI, and RMI citizens can travel, work, and live in the US. Much of the population lives in Majuro, the capital, and Ebeye is another larger population center.

    To learn more about the Marshall Islands, I recommend reading Peter Rudiak-Gould’s Surviving Paradise: One Year on a Disappearing Island. Plus, I’ve enjoy reading their local newspaper and browsing the Marshall Islands Guide website.

    Any adventures yet?

    No super fun adventures yet as I am still in quarantine. I guess the adventure has been getting here. Due to the Covid-19 border closures, my departure date kept changing. I thought for a while I was leaving in April and then May. Then, on June 16 I received an email asking if I could possibly be in Honolulu on June 18 as I had snagged a seat on a repatriation flight. The repatriation flights are reserved for RMI citizens who have been stranded due to the pandemic. I was very lucky to get a spot. So, I packed in a hurry and began the adventure with less than 48 hours notice (the fun thing is, I’d been pretty much packed since April, so it didn’t take long).

    The RMI government requires a 28-day quarantine to enter the country. I entered my first 14-day quarantine on June 20th, 2021 in Honolulu along with 38 Marshallese repats. On June 5th, we flew to Kwajalein, an atoll in the RMI where the US military has a base. In Kwajalein, we entered into our second 14-day quarantine. As I am writing this, I just had my last COVID-19 test, and hopefully will be able to leave quarantine tomorrow and fly to Majuro, the atoll I will be living on for the next three years.

    So far I have witnessed breathtaking sunrises and beautiful blue water. I’ve made two friends, my roommate, who is returning from New Zealand where she completed her master’s degree, and the lab technician who runs all our COVID tests (he is friends with my roommate and lives on Ebeye, which is an island across from Kwajalein). He is an excellent photographer, and if you have Instagram, I suggest following him (@michaelove692 and @ebeyeislandhome). I’ve also watched hours of the Armed Forces Network Kwajalein broadcasts as our television network is the US military base TV (this is a first for me).

    How has your career in TESOL prepared you for this new position?

    I truly believe everything has led me to this point. My years in K-12 schools in NC and VA. Teaching at Averett University, Virginia Tech, and Radford. All my travels around the world. I would not be here had I not had all my past experiences. Additionally, serving on the VATESOL board has prepared me for taking on new challenges. I never thought in 2008 when I attended my first VATESOL conference that I would be VATESOL president one day. And when I started teaching in 2009, I never thought I’d be teaching future teachers in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in 2021...but here I am, and I am so excited and grateful for the opportunity.

    Do you have any professional or personal goals for your time in the Marshall Islands?

    I would love to learn Marshallese (i.e. Kajin Majel), and I intend to take several courses on Kajin Majel and Mantin Majel (Marshallese culture) at CMI. I also want to learn as much as I can about their schools and help future teachers become the best teachers they can be. And...island hopping around Micronesia is on the agenda, but with Covid, who knows when that will happen. For now, I’m simply excited to leave my 28-day quarantine behind, take a walk, swim, and go outside whenever I want.

    What else would you share with our VATESOL readers?

    Believe that the impossible is possible. You never know where your life will take you! And, my 28-day quarantine has actually been incredibly relaxing and peaceful (this has been a lovely surprise). Again, the impossible is possible.

    Feel free to follow me on Instagram @rebeccaraineraab, Facebook (Rebecca Raab) or email me And if you ever want to visit, please let me know!

  • 10 May 2021 11:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It sounds intimidating... submitting a proposal to present at a conference. We’re here to demystify the process and encourage you to submit a proposal for VATESOL’s first virtual conference this fall.

    First, let's break down the submission form. If it’s your first time considering a presentation at a conference, the submission form may seem overwhelming. Don’t worry… it’s really just three main sections of information:

    • Presenter Information: Share your contact information with us so that we can notify you if your proposal is accepted and credit you in our program! However, our proposal review process is fully anonymous - board members won’t be able to see your name on your submission until after all proposals have been reviewed and accepted or denied.
    • Presentation Type & Target Audience: Help us see where your presentation will fit within the organization of the conference. The Target Audience and Topic Emphasis fields are included in our program as a way for participants to easily locate sessions that may be most relevant to their current field or area of interest.
    • Presentation Details: Share with us the title, summary, and abstract of your proposed presentation. The title and summary will be printed in the conference program for participants, while the abstract is for our proposal reviewers to learn more about what you are proposing to present. Don’t stress… You aren’t expected to write a doctoral dissertation here! Just give us a clear and descriptive overview of your presentation: What information will you share? What will a participant walk away with after hearing your presentation? Be sure not to include any identifying information (like your school division, university, or hometown) in the abstract.

    Top Tips for Writing Your Proposal:

    1. Start with the theme. Past VATESOL board member Marie Rose-McCully shared:

    “Think about the conference as a conversation. How will your presentation fit into the conversation? What are you adding to the conversation? The reason we have a conference theme is so that people can engage in that shared conversation, examining a theme from multiple angles with even more perspectives. Proposals that do not add to that conversation feel out of place.”

    Our fall 2020 virtual conference theme is: “Next Steps for Multilingual Learners.” What great conversation pieces do you have to share with us?

    2. Follow the rubric. Current VATESOL teacher education SIG leader, Katya Koubek, highlights the importance of studying the rubric and ensuring that your proposal clearly meets the criteria. Clarity is key, so be sure to revise your writing before submitting!

    This year’s proposals will be evaluated for selection on the basis of the following criteria:

    • clear statement of objective
    • clear summary

    • current importance of topic in the field
    • focus and organization of abstract
    • relevance to conference theme and target audience
    • appropriateness of content for session duration

    3. Consider the audience. Current VATESOL president, Jana Moore, wrote:

    “What makes a great proposal is what the listener will get out of it. I don't want to go and listen to a speaker talk because they believe they are fabulous. I want to hear people talk about research or things they are doing in the classroom, and how it can be tweaked for my own purposes, or how that impacts what I'm doing. You can read a certain level of enthusiasm in proposals, and outstanding ones are those that ‘pop.’”

    That's it! Remember, what makes a great conference is a diverse group of presenters and presentations. We are looking for proposals from all stakeholders: K-12 teachers, administrators, adult educators, teacher educators, professors and university-level instructors, students... anyone who has something to contribute to our conversation!

    You can submit a proposal for the Fall 2020 Virtual VATESOL Conference "Next Steps for Multilingual Learners" through June 1:

    Click Here

    If you have any questions regarding our conference or submitting proposals, please email

  • 01 Apr 2021 8:48 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Check out our latest VATESOL podcast episode!

    Two Fists of Cilantro: Lifting up the Experience and Knowledge of Multilingual Families

    Renata Germino is a Newcomer Specialist working in Charlottesville, Virginia. In this podcast she talks with VATESOL Membership Chair, Jeannie Pfautz, about different projects she manages that celebrate multilingual learners and families with whom she works. She also spends time sharing knowledge about applying for different grants, working with community partners, and empowering young people to share their stories. Renata is happy to answer any follow-up questions you have. She can best be reached at

    Here are a few of the grants discussed in the podcast: 

    You can subscribe to the VATESOL podcast on or by searching VATESOL Together on Breaker, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, or Spotify!

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