Looking back, looking ahead
The new school year, always a time of excitement for teachers, students and parents, will be accompanied by an additional layer of uncertainty in 2020. Naturally this will bring anxiety for many of us, but it also brings a sense of possibility and the potential for transformation. In Roman mythology, Janus represented doors, gates, and transitions. Often depicted with two faces, one looking back and the other looking ahead, Janus inhabited the in-between spaces symbolizing the dualities of past and future, challenge and opportunity, fear and hope. As we pause on the threshold of a new school year, it’s worthwhile to reflect on what we’ve experienced and what we’ve learned, while at the same time recognize the potential for change and transformation.
Bob Garmston, a wise educational leader and mentor, once observed that when we clarify our values, the decision takes care of itself. At WIDA, we rely on our values to engage with the uncertainty and potential for transformation that the new academic year brings. The core values that have guided WIDA for the past 15 years are as important as ever: Collaboration, Innovation, Social Justice, Service and our Can Do Philosophy. We continue to build tools for educators with an asset-based approach, and we continue to innovate to serve multilingual learners and their families by supporting more just and equitable schools. For example, this month’s Focus School is International School Manila which was first featured in 2015; they share a refreshed story of their WIDA journey.
As we look back at what we’ve learned and look ahead to the new school year, we are excited to share some of the ways we are innovating at WIDA and preview some of the new resources we will be sharing in the coming months. Our new narrative story map, WIDA All Year Long, will help illustrate how our asset-based resources can support educators in collaborating and building on what multilingual learners can do. We have integrated this tool into new professional learning and the newest WIDA Focus Bulletin on collaboration. We are releasing new assessment tools in response to educators’ needs, including a Remote Screener and refreshed version of WIDA MODEL. Later this year, we will roll out the 2020 edition of the WIDA Standards, a powerful new lens through which to view our work with multilingual learners. And finally, we have been working with a small Community of Practice from across the global WIDA network to co-construct high leverage strategies for schools to serve multilingual learners in the coming year. We will be highlighting these in a new “Voices from the Field” feature over the next six months as we work with expert practitioners to share examples from virtual and hybrid learning environments.
We look forward to the adventure ahead in this school year, and sharing this journey with you!
Jon Nordmeyer, WIDA international programs director
*Greek: have a great trip