Cycles of teaching and learning
While teachers around the world begin the sprint to the finish of the school year, professional bike racing has been gearing up again. Cycling enthusiasts around the world have been cheering on riders in the Spring Classics and the month of May brings the first Grand Tour: the Giro d’Italia. Whether as spectators or participants, the humble bicycle has offered many of us both pandemic relief and cycletherapy. And over the years, my bike has brought me adventures as well as moments of clarity. I once shared this reflection:
Riding a bicycle in Shanghai is an education. Weaving among cyclists, fruit vendors and pedestrians, I am learning the nuances of turn taking, overtaking, and advantage taking. Intersections provide the most interesting challenges. Often, as I ride up to a crossroads, vehicles pour into my path from two opposite streets; however, after momentary and subtle negotiations, flow resumes and I find myself on the other side of the intersection, continuing my ride homeward. In the same way, when language teaching intersects with content learning, it can feel difficult to navigate or it can appear as if the two processes are moving in opposite directions. In diverse and integrated classrooms of the 21st century, teachers need tools for supporting all students’ learning. Through collaboration and reflective practice, English language teachers can understand linguistic traffic patterns and work with colleagues to help students thrive within integrated learning environments. (Integrating Language and Content, TESOL, 2010).
Watching a peloton of riders traverse the Italian countryside in the Giro may seem far away from a classroom on Zoom, but some of the same principles apply. Riding with a group of other cyclists can help increase efficiency. Likewise, as teachers when we collaborate and build on each others’ strengths, we become both more effective and efficient, creating inclusive learning environments for multilingual learners. And even in the intensity of an international cycling competition, riders point out road hazards like a curb or a pole, to ensure those behind them are able to safely navigate. Similarly, across the WIDA global community, we’ve benefited from teachers sharing innovation, as well as their challenges. The wrong turns or speedbumps faced by one teacher help pave the way for another teacher to make things better. In this newsletter, you’ll read about some of these insights and learn about new resources we’ve co-created with teachers. And since at times this year has felt like an uphill climb in the Dolomites, we need all the help we can get.
So as you finish the year, stay strong. Share what you’ve learned. And thank those riding beside you for the support they’ve provided along the way.
Jon Nordmeyer, WIDA International Programs director
*Italian: “let’s go”