hApPy New Year!
As a year ends and a new year begins, we often hear the phrase “Out with the old, in with the new;” this phrase may suggest that to move forward, one must leave it all behind and evolve new ideas and changes.
To some extent, this may be what we want to do, considering the rough year we’ve all had as educators. I feel like 2021 hit us so hard – the uncertainty, the stress, the fatigue, & the emotional roller-coaster in schools drained us. Yet, we showed up. We did what we are passionate about. We poured our heart, soul, and energy into those we love…our students!
As the year came to an end, I began reflecting on the core of my persistence and endurance through these difficult days. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE students. They are why I remain in the teaching field. However, we can argue that we are facing some challenges we’ve never faced before. The pandemic is stealing our strength, love, and passion for what we do. Too many excellent teachers are leaving the field. The teacher shortage is undeniable. So, as I think about the core of my persistence and endurance in the field, I can’t help but think of my professional learning network.
In Late September 2021, I started getting messages from teachers from all across the country. These teachers were not only under the pressure of the pandemic but also facing a fast-growing enrollment of newcomers (English learners new to the USA). I could sense their frustration but at the same time felt their desire to be the best and do what’s best for their students. I felt a very strong connection with these teachers and decided to connect with them. I sent out an invitation on all my professional social media accounts using the hashtag #PLC4newcomers inviting teachers to join a virtual PLC to collaborate.
By October 2021 I had a list of over 150 teachers of newcomers who were willing to meet via Zoom to learn and share.
Our PLC began meeting the first Thursday of the month. We invite guest speakers – professionals and researchers in our field – to share their expertise with us. After hearing from our presenter, we go into breakout rooms and just chat. We encourage one another, we share ideas, we provide resources, we have meaningful collaborations.
Now, I know that Zoom meetings are not new… in fact, some of us have probably had countless Zoom meetings. However, through these PLC interactions with other passionate teachers, we started gaining strength. Through these interactions, we began feeling competent. We began embracing learning as part of growing.
We began validating each other – praising each other for the work we are already doing. Teachers lifting up other teachers. It’s the greatest feeling!
We also began a Twitter chat to stay connected. Every Thursday at 7:00 pm ET, teachers know that we are connected either via Zoom or Twitter chat. We’re just a hashtag away.
Something I realized while interacting with other teachers was that the burden on our shoulders may be blinding us from seeing our full potential as educators. We begin doubting ourselves, not because of what we’re doing or not doing – but because our best is not being recognized or validated.
So, as you reflect on last year and brainstorm New Year resolutions, don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t let your overthinking discredit your growth. You don’t need new strategies, or a new YOU, to be the best version of yourself! Connect with others and continue unfolding your love and passion for your students. Create and maintain meaningful connections that will cheer for you and will lift you up. Share small celebrations with your professional network and seek their support. We don’t need coaching right now – at least I don’t.
I need support.
Support is exactly what we need to continue all fired up while serving to the best of our abilities.
If you’re looking for meaningful connections, please, join us. Add your name to our monthly meeting invite form and come learn with and grow with us: bit.ly/PLC4newcomers.
So, going back to the phrase “Out with the old, in with the new”: I choose to keep the old – because the old is working for me right now. I’m keeping my meaningful connections, evolving new ideas and changes as they come. Unfolding the real me.
Yours In Equity,
The Power of PLC
PLC - "A professional learning community is a team of educators who share ideas to enhance their teaching practice and create a learning environment where all students can reach their fullest potential."
I love this definition of what a PLC is all about because I've seen it and experienced it in action. For the past few months, the #PLC4newcomers team has been meeting weekly through Twitter space chat and once a month through Zoom. If you're not familiar with space chats, it is a new feature Twitter provides where a group of users can get together and share about a given topic. What I like about space chats is that you can hear participants share their thoughts and ideas. Over the past four months, I've been the host of our space chat. Educators from across the country share ideas "...to enhance their teaching practice and create a learning environment where all students can reach their fullest potential."
Anyway, the actual purpose of this post is to share all the notes I have from our Jan. 20th chat. This chat was by far the most attended and the most engaging of all. Along with teachers sharing in our space chat, teachers were also using the hashtag to share tips, images, ideas, and resources. It was an amazing time encouraging one another.
The topic of conversation was "Starting a new Semester - Get to know you activities" - Listed below are all the activities shared.
I was trying to balance all the information being shared on Twitter and the information our participants were sharing. I took notes and promised I was going to curate this information and sharing.
Below you'll see a Wakelet with all the resources shared on Twitter. If you don't have a Twitter account and would like me to share these resources, please let me know.
If you're reading this and can share some ideas with us, please, add them to the comments. I'd be happy to add them to this blog post.
Also, if you can join our Twitter space chats, that would be amazing. We chat on Thursdays evening at 7:00 PM ET, just follow the hashtag #PLC4Newcomers and join. We also meet once a month via Zoom. Hope you join us!
Thank you for reading!!
Final Exams Can Be Fun
Students do not like tests/exams either.
They are, for the most part, created and administered with a "gotcha" in mind. For the most part, tests are to reflect what the student learned and can demonstrate. They cause so much anxiety in students and they're not accurate of the actual learning students acquired.
As I created my newcomers' final exam for our ESL for Beginners course, I created it intending to reflect on my teaching abilities and my skills to help students understand and ability to re-tell what they've learned. Their scores will evaluate ME.
I also wanted our final exam to serve as an opportunity for my newcomers to show what they've learned over the past few weeks.