Featured Educator: Reggie Williams 

February 25, 2022

In this edition of WIDA Featured Educator, we introduce you to Reggie Williams, an English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher at Clarkston High School in Clarkston, Georgia. Reggie’s been teaching for more than 26 years!

Let’s get to know Reggie by walking through a few “Reggie Realities” (a.k.a. pieces of info about Reggie – we couldn’t resist using some alliteration here 😊).

Reggie Reality #1… one of his go-to classroom resources is Nearpod, a web-based presentation program. “This program allows me to set up lessons that are self-paced. Students who are able to work independently can use the program, which frees me up to work with students who need more support.”

Reggie Reality #2… he loves disco music! “I do believe the dance music of the 70s is perhaps the best music ever made!”

Reggie Reality #3… his message to teachers is that students need them now more than ever. “They need the structure we provide in our classrooms. They need the grace and patience we provide them when they are unsure about how to respond to the constant changes that have been taking place. They also need the love, nurturing and respect we must provide them when they are in our classrooms.”

Reggie Reality #4… the number one thing he does in his classroom is build community. “In a classroom of language learners, students need to feel comfortable and supported. When kids have this kind of caring environment, they are more apt to take risks with the language that will lead to greater language acquisition.”

Reggie Reality #5… he gets a kick out of taking grade-level texts and scaffolding them to meet the language needs of students. “I have found that when I do this, all students are able to collaborate and contribute to the class discourse regardless of what their ACCESS for ELLs score is. Being able to do this builds their self-confidence.”

Now that you’ve gleaned some details about Reggie, let’s learn more!

Not only is Reggie an ESOL teacher, but he also teaches sheltered American literature to high school juniors and is the department chair of his school’s ESOL program.

“My school is located in the city of Clarkston, which is a small city in metropolitan Atlanta,” Reggie said. “It is often referred to as the Ellis Island of the South because of its rich diversity of people from over 40 nationalities and 60 languages.”

Reggie primarily works with high school juniors who range in age from 16 to 21. He said that to help his students surmount challenges, he and his colleagues established an open, supportive environment where students can take risks with their language learning.

“I work with an engaged and proactive group of teachers who, because of our status in the district as one of the most diverse high schools with the largest ESOL population, are always looking for better ways to serve our students,” he said.

Most days, this work goes beyond teaching – teachers at Reggie’s school have been known to serve as advocates, advisors and counselors for their students.

“We play a greater role in their lives, and I would gesture to say a much greater role than teachers do in a standard high school setting,” Reggie said.

To be a positive presence in his students’ lives, Reggie encourages his students to focus on their hopes and aspirations. Even though his students are young adults who will soon progress beyond high school, Reggie finds that part of his role is to build awareness of the college and career opportunities that await his students.

“When I am able to talk with and advise students on what they are thinking of for their futures, I am able to encourage them to take the steps necessary to work on improving their school and language skills,” he said. “Students who have demonstrated higher language skills get push-in instruction so that they can work with their native English-speaking peers, and students who need more concentrated instruction are placed in yearlong sheltered courses so that they can receive a more in-depth study and practice of language.”

Helping students is a team effort at Reggie’s school. He and his content area colleagues use a professional learning community model to explore student data to determine what their students need.

“I am excited to work with teachers and administrators who care deeply about doing what is best for students,” Reggie said. “At Clarkston, we know that our kids’ lives are dependent on all of us doing our due diligence in the classroom and the school community.”

… if you are still with us, here’s a bonus Reggie Reality:

Reggie Reality #6… his students use Kids.Wordsmyth. “This online dictionary helps students because it affords them with straightforward definition, pictures and audio files to help them learn unfamiliar words.”

Note: WIDA as an organization does not advocate for or endorse any of the non-WIDA technologies for instruction. Schools, districts and states are responsible for making choices about appropriate and applicable technologies and products.




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