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In early November, Ellevation hosted our first-ever EL Impact Conference, bringing together over 2,000 educators from school districts across the country for a week-long professional learning seminar. EL Impact provided participants the opportunity to learn from leading experts in the field, and their peers, about new approaches and strategies to meet the challenges of remote and hybrid learning instruction. Coming in the midst of a pandemic, when so many of us have been confined to our homes, it was a joy to connect again with ESL/Bilingual colleagues in our field.
In a year that many of us would describe as “messy,” it was a privilege to hear leading academic authorities in our field remind us of the beautifully messy process that is language learning. It was a message, grounded in research, that provided a timely bit of inspiration to those of us worried about the impact of COVID disruptions on our multilingual students. Some of my favorite highlights included:
Perhaps my favorite part of the conference was the roundtable discussion with our “In This Together” district partners, who showcased the incredible resolve and commitment that make them great leaders in their schools and communities. Despite the challenges faced this year, the theme of commitment and continuous learning was on display throughout the discussion, embodied by panel participant Rowena Mak from Saddleback Unified School District in Southern California, who said “[we look forward to having] more conversations where we embrace failure and where we are vulnerable. Where we can learn from our failures and grow from there.” As they shared stories of multilinguals in their districts, for whom messy setbacks are part of the normal course of language acquisition, I took great pride and comfort in their stories and reflections. We are so fortunate to serve these educator-heroes.
We often talk about celebrating the linguistic and cultural assets that ELs and multilinguals bring to our classrooms. As we come to the end of a difficult year, when many of us are overwhelmed by the disorder and uncertainty in our own lives, let me celebrate another overlooked asset that millions of English Learners model for us every day: resilience. Their language journey towards proficiency is rarely linear, and academic mastery in another language is often challenging. You might even say it is a bit messy. Yet they succeed, every day, and inspire us by their example.
Happy Holidays and Feliz Año Nuevo.
View the discussion thread.