Kick 2024 off with this advice from your fellow educators

January 3, 2024

We asked educators attending the 2023 WIDA Annual Conference what their advice was for other educators. They gave all sorts of insightful and helpful answers.

Here’s some of what they said, grouped into key themes:

Keep collaborating

Work on collaborating with your whole team and your whole staff to support multilingual learners following the 2020 WIDA Framework—that’s the model that is supported and really works best to provide wrap-around support.

Collaborate. Be all in. I think a lot of the time, especially working with multilingual learners, you feel like you’re by yourself. And at conferences like this and at PLCs, you are reminded that you are not and that there’s a lot of people doing this important work. Collaborating with them, even if they aren’t in your building, is crucial to learning to continue to meet the needs of our students and support each other.

Integrate language and content. Collaborate across the district and within the school.

I would highly recommend finding a partner. It might be your colleague, a friend, another teacher from another district. Find someone you feel comfortable with sharing your ideas and asking for help.

Hold on to your passion

Never lose your passion and love for the students you’re working for. As long as you have that, everything else will be all right. Don’t take it too seriously. It’ll work out. Just never lose that passion you have to help those students.

Education is hard. It’s constantly shifting and changing, but those changes bring about new ideas and new ways of thinking about how we teach students. Focus on the milestones that lead to the ultimate goals you want for your students. I think if you continue to focus on those milestones, you’ll continue to be motivated to keep moving forward for your students.

The most important aspect of teaching is the passion and relationships with students. If you’re not doing things for the kids, what’s the point? It’s the best part of teaching, relationships. Foster those relationships. Have fun with your students.

Do not take ‘no’ for an answer. You have to be an advocate. You have to be a go-getter. And you have to fight for these kids’ rights for the best education that these kids can get.

Professional development is key

Keep moving with your professional development because coming to a conference and being in a group with colleagues from your organization is just so incredibly powerful.

If someone was brand new to WIDA and the standards, I would say, start small. Just try to figure out what specific standards go with your lesson and then go from there. And if you’re past that, figure out your key language use. If you can just do that in general, you are setting your kids up for success.

Build relationships

Listen! Listen, listen, listen. So many people around you have some really great knowledge. I think when you’re first starting out or even if you’ve been an educator for forever that it’s kind of hard to listen to other people because you’re trying so hard to be that knowledgeable person yourself, but really this is an occupation of stealing. It really is. Taking ideas from other people, lifting their knowledge and merging it with your own, that’s really what it is all about.

It’s all about relationships, with your students and with your colleagues. Make sure people know that you care. Like the old saying goes, they won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Invest in families and connect with them and their children.

If you are a teacher of multilingual learners, it’s essential that you form a network. If you try to do the work alone, you can’t disrupt inequities. You need to form relationships, partnerships and a team around our multilingual students. Anyone you interact with in your school building, you want them invested and part of the team working to serve our multilingual students.

Trust yourself and have patience

Remember that practice makes progress, not perfect cause that doesn’t exist. That’s important to remember for your students with language learning. Language learning only happens with mistakes. And for yourself and this work because it’s difficult. No one has the answer for everything or the magic pill. Your school can make that progress, but it takes time. Trust the process.

Trust your instincts. You know what your students need, and you can provide those things. You may think of yourself as incapable of doing things if you haven’t studied English Language Learning and all the aspects of it, but you are capable. Scaffolding or providing accommodations is no different than what you do for any other student.

Give yourself grace. Lead with curiosity and questions to learn as much as you can about your students in your classroom and the support that is available within your school.

Sometimes it may feel like it’s really overwhelming, and things may get difficult, but you’re making such a big impact on the kid’s life that it’s so worth it. Seeing when they’re having those moments where they are smiling and so happy to have you.

Go slow to go fast. Create a nice, strong foundation. Have patience with each other and with our students and the process.

Thank you to all the educators who provided their excellent advice. Keep an eye out for the Conversations with Educators station at the 2024 WIDA Annual Conference!


Share this story      

teacher posing in hallway

Nominate an Educator

WIDA's Featured Educator is a monthly feature article that highlights classroom, district, or state-level educators who are making a difference in the lives of multilingual learners. Nominate an outstanding colleague today!

Submit a Nomination