Featured Educators: Community Gardeners

July 11, 2022

In this edition of Featured Educator, we highlight the 2021-22 Community Gardeners, a group of experienced international educators that supported the WIDA Global Community of Practice – a yearlong professional learning pilot program focused on improving schoolwide systems for multilingual learners.

In total, there were 16 Community Gardeners who lent their leadership and expertise to the WIDA Global Community of Practice over the past year. These 16 educators represented classroom teachers, coordinators and school administrators from international schools around the world. 

During their tenure, the Community Gardeners engaged with WIDA Global Community of Practice participants through discussion boards and synchronous events and provided feedback on new WIDA resources before they were made available to the public. They also connected with WIDA scholars on new research taking place in the field. 

The larger community of practice program included 86 participants representing 28 schools. As members of the program, participants

  1. identified a problem of practice at their school
  2. investigated the related research and resources from WIDA and the wider University of Wisconsin-Madison community
  3. designed a solution for their context
  4. showcased their work via a capstone celebration to WIDA International Consortium member schools

To get to a better understanding of the WIDA Global Community of Practice, we asked the Community Gardeners to respond to two questions: 

  • What do you value most about the WIDA Global Community of Practice?
  • How has participating in the WIDA Global Community of Practice influenced your thinking or practice?

Keep reading for a compilation of their answers to those questions. 

What do you value most about the WIDA Global Community of Practice?

Maura Herrera, Guatemala: The experience of working alongside other colleagues facing the same challenges in supporting multilingual learners.

Mats Haaland, China: I value the opportunity to engage with other EAL educators around the world on challenging questions related to our field. Having the opportunity to see how other schools and educators have worked through similar challenges has been greatly supportive of my own work.

Stephanie Drynan, Qatar: The delightful community of like-minded professionals. 

Julie Facine, United States: Reconnecting with colleagues from previous WIDA conferences

Alexandra Gustad, India: It is professional learning in its highest form! Engaging in CoP discussions, engaging with current research, and networking with other professionals in the field makes this experience truly effective.

Keisha La Beach, China: Learning from other educators

Mirjam Strauss-Paris, Germany: A culture of respect and care, open-mindedness, global thinking, problem-solving orientated, and nurturing

Tikva Chofi, Congo: The opportunity to explore research-based solutions to complex challenges with educators working in similar contexts

Molly Wellner, South Korea: I value the connections I've made with other EAL educators around the world through the WIDA Global Community of Practice.

How has participating in the WIDA Global Community of Practice influenced your thinking or practice?

Maura Herrera, Guatemala: Being able to see other perspectives or recent research on different activity systems has made me reflect on how we as educators can make changes within our schools to help multilingual learners.

Mats Haaland, China: Much of my thinking and practice has been directly influenced by the context where I am working. The Global Community of Practice has broadened my perspective because I have the opportunity to hear from educators working with different variables, such as grade levels or different student populations.

Stephanie Drynan, Qatar: This amazing community deepens my thinking, my understanding and my reflective practice in both micro and meta-manners.

Julie Facine, United States: As I am no longer working in schools, it has kept me current with issues in applied linguistics, giving me ideas for how I might go about building resources for educators in the future.

Alexandra Gustad, India: It is a reminder to constantly reflect upon my own practices, language, and how I might approach others on their learning journeys.

Keisha La Beach, China: It has reminded me that policies and practices are contextual and can be temporal, but they remain aligned to key principles and are responsive to the population being served.

Mirjam Strauss-Paris, Germany: Sharing the joys and challenges of teaching multilingual learners; realising that we are not alone; sharing resources, strategies and practices

Tikva Chofi, Congo: Over the years, I have become more and more interested in improving school wide systems for multilingual learners. The WIDA Global Community of Practice has given me language and a framework to clarify this work. In the process, I have also found a community of others who are also looking at the bigger picture and how all the pieces of the puzzle impact students.

Molly Wellner, South Korea: The WIDA Global Community of Practice has allowed me the opportunity to hear and see multiple perspectives and practices which confirm and enrich my own practice.

What’s Next? 

Thanks to our incredible Community Gardeners and WIDA Global Community of Practice participants, we have a tremendous amount of data and feedback on this yearlong pilot program. Now, WIDA staff will take some time to analyze those insights and determine our next steps in improving how we serve the WIDA global community of schools. 

In the meantime…

View the presentation recordings from the WIDA Global Community of Practice Capstone Celebration held in May.

WIDA International face-to-face professional learning is back! Starting in the upcoming academic year, we are hosting six WIDA Institutes around the world. The first takes place July 26-29, 2022, on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus in Madison, Wisconsin.

And... you don’t want to miss upcoming, in-person Stretching Your Co-Teaching workshops in Singapore (December 10-11) and Rome (March 11-12). Keep an eye on the WIDA website since registration will open soon.

As always, stay connected with your colleagues from around the world by following WIDA on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #WIDAGlobal!


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