The Virginia ESL Supervisors' Association (VESA) hosts an annual conference that provides K-12 Virginia educators and administrators of English Learners opportunities for professional development, learning new ideas, networking, and program planning.
I was honored to join Dr. Kate Kinsella as keynote speakers for the 2019 conference entitled: Creating Pathways to Proficiency
You can access the full conference program below!
So here I am...reflecting on my first semester in High School! As you may know, over the summer of 2018, I made the switch from an elementary school setting to a high school setting. The decision was not a difficult one in the sense that I knew with all my heart I was going where I needed to be. Besides, the passion within me to serve English learners is always seeking out new challenges for improvement. But, to be transparent about my feelings, I must share the FEAR I was facing while making my decision.
Fear of the unknown.
Fear of failure.
High school is a radically different world than elementary school. It's like black and white. The only knowledge I had about high school was what I knew from my son since he is a HS student.
So, I was afraid. I was afraid of schedules, services for students, accommodations for testing, enrollment, co-teaching, etc. I was afraid of how I was going to fit in with Concord High School' staff and students.
Would they like me?
Would I meet their expectations?
Would I be a good fit?
These questions led to begin thinking about failing. What if I fail.
What if I don't fit in?
What if I mess up?
So many questions that for a moment became reasons to avoid venturing the unknown journey.
However, unpredictable journeys can only be lived by being willing to take risks. If we want to maintain a burning passion & seek out new challenges, we must accept the probability that things might not go as planned or as we would've wanted them to; but that's how change happens...and change is good!!
One semester. One semester is just enough time for me to realize how much I love working with high school students at Concord High School!
Do I know everything? NO.
Have I had failures? YES.
You see, that's the beauty of unknown and unpredictable journeys; That no matter what the journey brings our way...we stand strong on the heartfelt decision and risks.
I have SO MUCH to learn. I have so many relationships to build. I have so many more things to do. Meanwhile, I sit here - looking at the bulletin board with all our ELs' pictures (picture above)...and I smile thinking on the many - many more wonderful memories in the years to come.
"Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable." - George S. Parron
Thank you for reading & Go Spiders!
I just LOVE it when I buy a book and that book ends up stirring up everything within me. BE REAL - Educate from the Heart by Tara Martin just shook. My. World!!
While reading Tara's story, I couldn't help thinking about my own experiences and realize how I too have experiences that are unique and powerful. Tara's message helped me zoom in and have a clear understanding of my purpose (my WHY) and all I do because of my purpose.
You see, I am very passionate about English learners; so anything and everything I do is to highlight their potential and strengths.
EVERYTHING I do (my what) whether is teaching, blogging, twitting, keynoting, PD sessions, will all be inspired by my purpose and my passion.
For this reason, my #OneWord for 2019 is...ACTIONS. I will be doing everything I do with intentionality.
I will, as Tara, says in her book..."measure everything I make using two questions:"
Whether is a professional or personal action, I will make sure that it is intentional behavior that will benefit my purpose and others as well.
"Recognize your talents and strengths and own them! Then, make confident choices. Take the leap and try out an idea, teach, write, speak, encourage a friend over coffee - do what you do and begin to salt the world with your whats. Don't doubt yourself. That you may be easier said than done, but if an idea, action, or next step fits your purpose - your why - go with it!" ~ Tara Martin
I will always return to these words that inspired me to continue working hard to make a difference.
Heart-healthy salt is your what - the actions you take to influence others to thirst after the why. - Tara Martin
Thank you for reading and hApPy 2019!
Blog: a website containing a writer's own experiences, observations, opinions, etc.
If blogging would be as easy as it sounds...at least that's what I thought almost two years ago! The fear of what others might say about my written experiences and thoughts bounded me from blogging for a very long time.
However, encouraged and inspired by Tan Huynh, Valentina Gonzalez, Carol Salva, and Larry Ferlazzo, I began my personal and educational blog in April 2017.
So as we approach my second full year blogging, I'd like to share with you what it is that keeps me going.
Believe in YOU!
Just know that we all have a unique ability and potential that the world needs to read and learn about. Start by sharing with the world what inspires YOU.
What inspires you makes you who you are and YOU are enough!
Lead & Learn
When it comes to writing and sharing your experiences be a leader and create your own format. As you take risks creating what is unique to you, you'll learn new approaches to continue sharing your uniqueness.
As you begin to expand your tent (growing your audience) pay very close attention to their tips, advice, and guidance about your topics. It's not about pleasing the audience as much as it is honoring others' perspectives.
Good to Great
I Love this phrase because it implies that there's always room to grow! As you begin having the opportunity for "guest blogging" in others' blogs, you'll realize the need to improve your craft and always continue challenging
yourself just a little more!
That's it! Simple as that. Just BLOG!
"We have to be willing to take risks in order to discover and fulfill our purpose in education and in life." ~ Tara Martin #REALedu
"Blogging is an act that begins with an internal purpose and grows to an outcome of benefiting the greater education community." - Mike Gorman
Thank you for reading and Happy Blogging!
The Long Island Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network (L.I. RBERN) holds an annual conference organized by the ENL/Bilingual Program Office. The Long Island Teacher Institute 2018, "Generation NOW: ACC-ELL-erating Pathways to Success for Linguistically Diverse Learners was on December 7th, 2018.
I was honored to be invited as their featured presenter following the amazing keynote presentation by Dr. Lorena Llosa.
For the past 15 years, I've organized ESL family engagement meetings at the elementary school level and all I had to do was send home an invitation and parents would show up!
Now that I am at a high school level I realize that the process and approach has to be different for family engagement nights.
So, I came to a firm understanding that in order to successfully support our students at the HS level, a group effort is a must. What I mean is, it is imperative to create a culture of opportunities and a sense of collaboration among staff so our families and students are supported and successful.
Culture of Collaboration and Responsibilities
In order to ensure success for our students and to encourage our ESL families to engage and participate in school events, our staff must have a strong sense of community and shared responsibility. As an ESL teacher, I feel very strongly about the need to have our ESL families' help in making sure that our students (especially ELs) have the support they need to be successful. Therefore, I invited several school staff members to team up with me in planning and implementing our very first ESL family engagement night.
Our form of communication was through email and we maintained a constant communication with all the details.
The perfect team to implement our first meeting consisted of our Spanish teacher (Ms. Perdomo), our ELA teacher (Ms. Armstrong), our bilingual secretary (Rina Rodriguez), our guidance counselors ( Mrs. Foster and Stacey Diaz), and admin (Dr. A).
Three of us (bilingual ones) called ALL our ESL parents and personally invited them to attend. We called them with about 2-3 weeks in advance. We also provided the opportunity to attend to either one of two sessions offered. Both sessions followed the same format.
We also sent home this form as a reminder.
ESL Parent Meeting Format
We didn't want this meeting to be a type of sit and get without engagement, so we provided our information in centers. We also wanted to model how we strive as teachers to have our students collaborate and work in groups with their peers. Also, being in small groups provides a more comfortable setting for parents to ask questions and engage without fear.
We started all together and received a welcome from all of staff who was present. I explained the format of the meeting and parents were divided into groups to begin learning.
The groups and information provided were as follows:
Parents spent about 15 minutes at each center and rotated to another center until they had been to all three.
Our principal was there in the room with us to answer questions and engage with our parents as well. Our ELA teacher, Ms. Armstrong, was present and greeted our families and also helped answer any questions regarding class grades or content questions.
Stacey Diaz, our county's ESL guidance counselor was with us during our first session and was able to share valuable information with our families too.
We also had a representative from a local community organization called "El Puente Hispano" who provided our families with all the available support they have for students and parents.
"As a community with shared responsibility for all learners in the school, school-based practitioners can collectively move their school forward to ensure an equitable, high-quality education for English learners and can create a responsive school for their parents and guardians." - #TESOL6ps
I must say that without the sense of collaboration and responsibility from everyone who helped - this 1st awesome meeting with our ESL families would have not been as successful as it was.
Our parents were very grateful for all the information we provided and were also happy to create connections with other parents in our school.
If you are having successful ESL parent meetings at the HS level, please share your experience with us! We'd love to continue what we started and the more ideas we have the better!!
Thank you for reading!
On October 22nd, 2018 - I had the privilege to be featured on DisruptED TV Teacher Sparks. Host, Michele Hill , (a passionate educator who by the way I admire), invited me to not only share my immigrant story but also share what I am currently doing for my students and their families.
We had a great conversation around the elements and ways we need in our schools and classrooms to create a welcoming and comfortable environment for diverse students. Cultural responsiveness is definitely a topic we both feel very strong about so it became core for our conversation.
Check out the video and let me know if you have any comments and/or questions!
Thank you for reading and watching the video!!
On October 23rd - October 26th, 2018 I had the opportunity to attend my first WIDA annual conference! The conference was in Detroit and I was able to attend with Stacey Diaz, Cabarrus County's ESL counselor and Doug Carr, Cabarrus County's social worker.
I was honored to co-present a session with my colleagues and I also had a session on my own.
I attended several fantastic sessions where I learned a lot and met a lot of Twitter friends! It is by far one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had!
#1: Teachers, School Counselors, and Social Workers:
Collaborating for Success
"Research shows that students with engaged families adapt better to school, attend school more regularly, have better social skills, and pursue post-secondary opportunities. We explored the role of teachers, school counselors, and social workers in engaging families and learn about culturally responsive family engagement practices. Developed an action plan based on examples given to implement culturally responsive engagement practices at your school."
"I am an ordinary person who has been blessed with extraordinary opportunities and experiences. Today is one of those experiences." Sonia Sotomayor
#2: Establishing a Comfortable Environment for Diverse Students
- From Inside-Out
"Students need a respectful environment to function to their full potential. This session provided Culturally Responsive Pedagogy strategies to create the environment diverse students need. Participants visualized that in order to establish such environment, it needs to start from within. Then, as a ripple effect it carries onto our students, our content teaching pedagogy, school culture, family and community engagement, and ultimately engage globally as open-minded individuals.
After my session, I asked participants the following question as an exit ticket: A year from now, what will be important for you to remember about this session?