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  • Writer's pictureShanna Morgan

Transformative Ideas and Actions from the Title III Symposium

I have been counting down to July 27th since I was chosen to attend the Tittle III symposium. It would be held in San Antonio, TX right off the River Walk. There was sure to be learning and community and conversation in person and my heart was glad. I've reflected on the ideas presented and the actions I can take as a teacher and leader to facilitate student success.

Thursday, a fellow Katy ISD teacher was honored for her amazing work with emergent bilinguals. Her award provided a reminder that there is expert teaching and relationship building happening all around me. Sometimes, when I am focused on the students that enter my learning space daily, it can be a challenge to see the greatness around me. This year, I will endeavor to spend a planning period once every grading period and see what students are experiencing in other classrooms.

A wonderful session facilitated by HISD Multilingual Department focused on building a professional development program that creates great gains in emergent bilingual skill proficiency. The idea that all teachers should be ESL certified and see themselves as equipped to teach emergent bilinguals was presented. After all, emergent bilinguals do not stop being emergent bilinguals when they find themselves with a teacher who is not ESL certified.

This same session showed how making small goals have tremendous impact. My focus will be on maintaining the expectation that students speak in complete sentences. As the facilitator reminded me— we write the way we speak. For students to be successful on the writing portion of STAAR, I need them to be comfortable and used to speaking in complete sentences. This should in turn show up in their writing. will aid them in this by continuously providing them with sentence stems.

In Critical Questions, Practical Answers: Using PLCs, I was helped to examine my role in PLCs. As I considered the PLC in which I participated last year, very little conversation was focused on emergent bilinguals and the different strategies we would use to target their success. I also realized that many of the tools and strategies that are considered ‘good teaching’ work well with emergent bilinguals. Yet, we’d be even more effective if we directly discussed emergent bilinguals while planning. I will be intentional during PLCs to consider emergent bilinguals.

Dr. Edith Trevino made a lasting impression during her keynote. My biggest takeaway is learning to rate my day. I can rate my day on a scale of one through ten and then consider what I can do to increase it by two points. This idea of small incremental change is so powerful. Not every day will be a ten. Changing a six to an eight though? That is achievable. A week full of eights makes for a darn good week.

Friday included a session discussing how to implement Marzano’s Six-Step Process for vocabulary. As someone new to teaching sheltered EBs, I was excited for the challenge of helping them acquire a new language. The presenter reminded me not to dumb it down. I need to help students learn grade level English. An English 3 EB doesn’t need to be taught words that would be found on an elementary school word wall. These students already have a language. I am simply facilitating the learning of a new one.

Some amazing folks in Lewisville ISD provided a blueprint for advocacy. I was shown a video of students who simply didn’t know what they didn’t know until a position was created to help them. The students were so thankful that the trajectory of their lives had changed due to one position focused on their success beyond high school. Additionally, the educators tirelessly advocated for students to be praised for their biliteracy. They worked for students to get a seal of biliteracy and chords at graduation. While I am not in a position to give chords or seals, I can search for ways to praise student’s biliteracy in the classroom.

The last keynote posed a question that I would like to ask students this year: “Who invested in you to sit here today?

As a presenter, I always want to know that attendees were able to take something valuable from our time spent together. I am so thankful to those who sacrificed their time and energy to present. It will change the way I teach and lead.

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