Powering Up Parent-Teacher Conferences with Parents of ELs

by Valentina Gonzalez


Building relationships between teachers and parents is also key to increase student motivation and academic achievement.

Larry Ferlazzo

From my personal experience as an immigrant with parents who didn’t speak English when we came to America, I can tell you that the culture of the American school system was confusing to my parents. It was not like the school system where they grew up; the traditions and customs they knew were very different from those in America. Parental expectations varied, and involvement held a different meaning. Parents, students, and teachers held different roles. It took a long while for my parents to become accustomed to the American way. Rarely did they attend school events when I was young. I can imagine that many of my teachers may have thought this was a sign of disengagement or a lack of care for my education, when in fact, my parents brought us to America for a better education and a better future.  Continue reading “Powering Up Parent-Teacher Conferences with Parents of ELs”

Families as Partners: Family Engagement

by Valentina GonzalezFamily_Engagement_

If it seems that family engagement has become a growing force on your campus or in your district, you may not be mistaken. The push for strengthening family engagement stems from changes that ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) brought forth in education. One change ESSA made was to strike “parental involvement”’ and insert “parent and family engagement.” Not only does this change intend to redefine how we, as educators, interact, but it also redefines who we are interacting with. With this shift, ESSA recognizes that schools and students benefit from the engagement of all family members, not just parents or guardians. Continue reading “Families as Partners: Family Engagement”

Democratizing Learning through Randomization

by Dr. Stephen Fleenor

As teachers, we love to ask questions. In fact, one of the easiest ways to identify a teacher is to hear him or her asking questions. Take, for example, when a student asks to go to the bathroom. Whereas a normal person would simply say “yes” or “no,” we have to ask them about it. “Do you really need to go to the bathroom? You didn’t go at lunch? Can’t you hold it? What’s our rule about when to go to the bathroom?” Four questions in the span of about ten seconds, released as naturally as our own breaths. It would probably be more cognitively demanding for us to just say “yes” or “no.” Continue reading “Democratizing Learning through Randomization”

The Best Advice I Didn’t Take

by Tina Beene

By the time I attended the first class for my alternative certification program, I had already been teaching (poorly) for two weeks. I was an emergency bilingual hire who’d been plucked from the masses the previous spring at a job fair for a district near where I was relocating after college. (I was so young and sheltered that my mom drove me to the job fair…and waited outside the room. I cringe to this day when I think of it, but in my defense I was from a very small town, Dallas is huge, and overpasses can be terrifying.)  Continue reading “The Best Advice I Didn’t Take”

Growing Language & Literacy: An Interview with Author Dr. Andrea Honigsfeld

by Valentina Gonzalez

unnamed-6Dr. Andrea Honigsfeld is a leader in the field of English as a Second Language. She has authored over 20 books and offers professional development primarily focusing on effective differentiated strategies and collaborative practices. Dr. Honigsfeld is also associate dean and director of the Educational Leadership for Diverse Learning Communities Doctoral program at Molloy College.

I recently had the honor of interviewing this kind-hearted and passionate educator about her latest book, Growing Language & Literacy: Strategies for English Learners (GLL). The book is tailored for educators in grades K-8 and is published by Heinemann.
Continue reading “Growing Language & Literacy: An Interview with Author Dr. Andrea Honigsfeld”


by Marcy Voss

It was Christmas Eve at the airport. As the barista prepared his coffee, she smiled broadly and asked him a series of questions so she could get his coffee just right. She then asked where he was going, about his family, about his family’s traditions. When she gave him the coffee, she told him to have a safe flight and to go create some extraordinary memories with his family—and, when he came back to the airport, to tell her all about it. The man walked off, but after a moment came back, intrigued about the woman’s secret to making such meaningful connections while serving coffee. The barista replied, “I’m not serving coffee. I’m pouring happiness into people’s lives.”  Continue reading “Purpose”

Primary Language Support in General Education Classrooms

by Valentina Gonzalez


What is Primary Language Support? 

Primary language support (PLS) is the use of students’ first languages to build on the development of their target language. For example, if a child first learned Italian at home and then begins school in America, the primary language of Italian would be used as a leverage to build the English language.  Continue reading “Primary Language Support in General Education Classrooms”

Differentiating Instruction for English Learners: ELPS Flip Book

by Valentina Gonzalez

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As an ESL teacher, one of my go-to resources for planning instruction was the ELPS Flip Book by John Seidlitz. The flip book helped me to personalize instruction and differentiate learning for each of my English learners. I took it with me as I planned collaboratively with grade-level teams. I loved the instructional guidance it provided as we planned for ELs at various levels of proficiency. And when co-teachers asked me what types of accommodations certain students needed, I could easily flip through the tabs in the guide to find the supports we needed. Continue reading “Differentiating Instruction for English Learners: ELPS Flip Book”

Mantras and Metaphors for Collaboration

A guest post by Tan Huynh

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I often hear EL teachers painfully retell their experiences with co-teachers using phrases like these:

  • “My teacher doesn’t want to collaborate.”
  • “They don’t give me time to teach the class.”
  • “My teaching partner says there’s no time to plan.”

When I hear complaints like these, I gently and subtly reframe the discussion by suggesting, “When teachers are not yet comfortable with collaboration, you can…” and then continue the conversation. Working with teachers can sometimes be sensitive and require advanced emotional intelligence, so I would like to offer a few metaphors and mantras for effective collaborative relationship building. Continue reading “Mantras and Metaphors for Collaboration”