by Valentina Gonzalez
All of you advocates and educational leaders are doing amazing work on campuses and in districts to support English learners. And because of that, great things are happening in classrooms across the state and the nation. You are planning instruction that is based on student needs. You are delivering quality lessons that invite and empower students. You are coordinating professional development opportunities and instructional coaching cycles that truly affect instructional practices. You are engaging parents and including them in their children’s education. And this is just the beginning.
It’s time to share with others in the field the phenomenal work that YOU are doing! And we may be biased, but we’re pretty sure there’s no better place to share that work than at Seidlitz’s annual conference, What’s Working for ELs in Texas. We’re accepting proposals now through the end of July, and we’d love to hear from you!
Why should you consider submitting a proposal to share your accomplishments at the conference?
- Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
When we leave our comfort zones, we especially have an opportunity to grow. And whether you are a teacher, a coach, a facilitator, or an administrator, you can grow in your role. What you do on the daily is probably a breeze to you by now. But trying something beyond takes things up a level. Take what you do on a normal basis and analyze it, research it, film it, create a presentation for it, and share it with colleagues and peers. Teach it to others. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn when you step out of your comfort zone. After all, that’s where the magic begins.
- Highlight the Positive
It’s never been more important than now to share the great things that are happening in our classrooms, campuses, and districts concerning English learners. One of the best ways to advocate for our students is to share in public forums even the smallest of celebrations about their growth and learning! Amplifying the successes of our students and staff shows everyone the power we have to make a difference.
- Shine your Light
You deserve a spotlight! Yes, you! Don’t underestimate yourself and the little things you do that make a difference. I remember the first time I was nudged to present on my campus. I thought to myself that I didn’t have anything to share. I didn’t know what I’d have to offer. But a colleague kept on pushing me. Little by little, the idea grew in my mind. After presenting, I realized that I did deserve to shine my light. I shared and yes, it was a little scary but it was also empowering! It moved me to begin empowering others to do the same.
- Spread the Wealth
“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
– The Teaching of Buddha
People need to hear about the ideas you have so they can turn around and implement them too. When we collaborate—sharing ideas and teaching each other what has worked for us—we each gain new, great ideas that build off one another’s practices. Practical ideas that are tried and true are the best ones! If a strategy, program, or concept is working well for you, don’t hide it. Light someone else’s candle.
Now that you have the WHY, here’s the HOW!
The Four Ps: Steps You Can Take Now
Step 1: Ponder
Start thinking about one idea you feel passionate about—an aspect of your role that you’ve had success with in promoting English learner achievement. Is it a great vocabulary strategy? A strong co-teaching practice you have developed? An effective instructional coaching cycle you have lead? Consider something that has made an impact on students and/or staff. It doesn’t have to be anything huge. Even the smallest things can make a big impact. I’ve found success with topics that I enjoy talking a lot about. If I can carry a lengthy, deep conversation about it, it’s usually something that I know well and feel strongly about.
Step 2: Practice
Share it with your campus at a grade level or faculty meeting. Doing a mock trial or practice to test the water will help you see if this is a presentation that is well received and if there are parts that need adjusting. Sometimes people skip this step, but I’ll tell you from experience that my best presentations were the ones that I practiced for.
Step 3: Propose
Submit a proposal to present at the 5th Annual What’s Working for ELs in Texas! This is a remarkable conference that showcases great ideas from all over the state of Texas. Administrators, coaches, and teachers have shared their work year after year and inspired one another to make change.
Step 4: Present
Present at the 5th Annual What’s Working for ELs in Texas! On January 30, 2020, we will gather together to celebrate, collaborate, and learn from one another in Houston, Texas. It will be a magnificent conference, especially if you present!
Leader /lee-der/ n. one who inspires and motivates action; having a can-do personality
Advocate /ad-vuh-keyt/ n. a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc.
Sometimes people hear the words “leader” or “advocate” and think, oh that’s not me. Don’t sell yourself short. You are both. No matter your role, you can motivate others by speaking in support of ELs! Here’s your chance!