From Grieving to Growing
Last year we all experienced pain and loss. Many of us grieved the loss of loved ones, including some in our WIDA family. We also lost holidays, family rituals and time spent with friends in classrooms or cafes. We cancelled conferences, religious services and annual gatherings. But we did not lose community; we rediscovered ways to stay connected. And while we are still grieving our losses, some transitions are helping to transform us: losing illusions of equity and beginning to dismantle systems which no longer serve us. Transitions are difficult. We may not always find meaning in the moment, but after it has passed we might be able to look back and find it.
In the past year we have also been lifting up voices by writing, inquiring, protesting, voting – and above all learning - about ourselves and the world. Throughout the pandemic, educators have remained central, not only as front-line workers but as a link to the future. And while many of us are still struggling in uncertain times of transition, we are engaged in reframing and reprioritizing our work and our lives. As Carl Glickman wrote in Letters to the next President (2004): “... citizens of a democracy need a deeper and more comprehensive education that allows them to develop the capacity to apply and contribute their knowledge in broader, more creative, and more independent ways.” Glickman also reminded us that students learn from the examples of teachers and leaders: “Above all else, be the kind of person we brag about in school. As president, demonstrate the habits that you want us to value and engender in a good student.” We know that we will never go back to the old normal, but hopefully going forward to a new normal will provide the opportunity for us to see things differently.
Here at WIDA we are also writing, thinking and teaching in new ways. Looking ahead to 2021, we are excited to offer new opportunities for learning. The new edition of the WIDA English Language Development Standards Framework provides a blueprint for educators to see their work anew. And this month WIDA launches the Virtual Institute, a narrative-based and self-paced certificate course. In this innovative online course, educators around the world will engage with four big ideas: Equity of Opportunity and Access, Integration of Content and Language, Collaboration Among Stakeholders and a Functional Approach to Language Development. We are excited for the WIDA global community to join us in new ways of teaching and learning.
A new year always provides perspective and the opportunity to both look back and look ahead. Hopefully what we have given up in 2020 will make room for something new in 2021, even if that something new is still defining itself.
Jon Nordmeyer, WIDA International Programs Director
*Dutch: see you soon