I thought I was just a learnaholic and an overachiever. I almost felt like it was something I had to hide, like other educators might think differently of me if they knew I spent some of my free time reading PD books or making extra resources or nerding out on social media with other educators of multilingual learners.
But then I realized...I am doing what's best for my students. All of what I do is to serve them and to serve them the best that I can. They deserve the best. Their families came here for a better education; I can tell you that. Most of our families are here to give their children a better life, and it's our job to facilitate that.
The minute we decide that we are the best educators and we know all of the strategies, the pedagogy, the content, the lessons...that is the minute we start doing a disservice to our students. The learning never stops! There is always new research and as we grow as educators, we can always look back at some of our principled practice and reflect and adjust.
What is principled practice? This is a new concept for me that I learned from some of my colleagues this year. It means that we take what we already have learned and our experiences and we put it together with new learning and research to grow our practice. It doesn't mean that we get rid of our old strategies and experiences; it means that we are adding more tools to our toolbox and changing the things that don't serve us anymore or that research may show might be outdated.
For example, I always used the Frayer Model vocabulary cards with my multilingual learners in my ESL classes. Then I learned about Margarita Calderon's vocabulary method in Exc-ELL. I read all about her research behind it and I was a huge advocate for her work (and still am!). I am such a huge advocate that she came to our high school teacher membership, My MLL Mentor, as our first guest speaker!
I did not stop doing Frayer cards, but I used her 7-step vocabulary strategy to introduce the vocabulary words, and then used Frayer cards to practice the words with students later on in the week or for homework. So I just added to my principled practice.
I like to do this for my lesson plans as well. Some important questions to reflect on with lessons and instruction might be:
If you don't lesson plan with others in your building, which a lot of times as high school teachers we don't, it's helpful to see what others are doing and what you can take and make your own for your students and what they need. If you are the only ESL or ELD teacher and do not have anyone to collaborate with, there are some things you can do:
There are many ways, strategies, and research that we can add to our principled practice. There are many resources to keep up to date on our teaching practice for our multilingual learners, or English learners.
If you are interested in continuing your growth as a teacher and seeing how I typically do my lesson plans, check out our high school teacher membership! You will get extra resources, webinars, guest speakers like Margarita Calderon, and templates and checklists.
Let's keep growing and keep glowing for our multilingual learners! How else do you add to your principled practice? Comment below!
I support middle and high school teachers through monthly lesson plans, coaching, and guest speaker offerings in our Secondary ESL Teacher Membership.