K-12 Perspectives at TESOL
I have been a middle school ESOL teacher since TESOL was TESL! In all the years that I have attended the TESOL convention, I have usually gone alone, and at my own expense. What made this year’s TESOL so special is that my school district invested in sending all of our secondary ESOL teachers, along with several core content teachers from each secondary building. Our group of 24 was able to attend the K-12 Day and the school visits, in addition to the regular sessions and exhibits of the convention. By attending with our core content teachers, this year’s TESOL convention was a truly transformative experience both for myself, and for my school.
Being able to experience TESOL through the eyes of my core content colleagues was thrilling. They were impressed by the size and sheer “international-ness” of the convention. They met teachers from all over the world: dedicated educators who are working through many of the same issues that we are. They were able to attend sessions on project-based learning; using technology to meet the needs of our EL students; and new ideas on teaching vocabulary and grammar in the core classroom. They developed a stronger sense of themselves as critical players in the education of our students who are learning English alongside the content that they teach, and they expressed feeling a renewed sense of validation as professional educators.
We all came back with a clearer understanding of what we can do to support our English learners, and with a stronger commitment to supporting our ELs – and each other – in new ways. Best of all, we had time to really get to know each other, and to reflect together on our philosophies of education, our core values, and our hopes for our students and our school. I am grateful to our district for supporting our trip to TESOL, and for TESOL’s increasing recognition of the needs of K-12 EL students and the educators who serve them.