Over our teaching careers, it has become evident that teachers are doers. We focus our attention on getting right to work - teaching students. To put it quite simply, it is WHAT we do.. We also determine HOW we must teach, perhaps feeling like the options are endless or constraining. However, have you taken the time to think about WHY you do what you do each day?
Here at Away We Go, our philosophy has been shaped over the years through self-reflection. Truly knowing your why will impact what you do and how you do it. As we all know, teaching is no small feat.
When it comes to teaching and growing multilingual learners, WHY is at the core of the instruction we design and the decisions we make. It is the driving force behind the advocacy that underpins our work with multilingual students as they embark on becoming readers and writers in a new or additional language.
Here at Away We Go, we are guided by the following values:
1. CONNECTION: Multilingual learners learn best when they feel safe, valued, and connected to their teachers, peers, and school communities.
Relationships matter and are central to the work educators do each day with students, colleagues, families, and the community. Cultivating relationships is foundational to the success of our students. The more we know about our students, the better we will be able to craft instruction that is meaningful, timely, and responsive to their needs. Partnering with families means that we acknowledge the wealth of information that parents and families offer our teaching. And finally, the relationships created between colleagues, in the name of multilingual students, makes way for advocacy, equity, collaboration, and improved outcomes.
2. AUTHENTIC LEARNING EXPERIENCES: English language instruction is most effective when it occurs in a meaningful context. Language acquisition and literacy learning flourish when we design meaningful, authentic learning experiences with our students in mind. A focus on meaningful communication and creating access to grade-level curriculum for students at all proficiency levels is critical. Being a teacher of multilingual learners demands that skills work finds its place within rich opportunities to listen, read, write, and speak.
3. INTEGRATED INSTRUCTION: Multilingual learners deserve access to instruction that integrates language, literacy, and content. An integrated approach means that language, literacy, and content can be taught simultaneously in order to move students forward. Integrated instruction strives to provide repeated opportunities for students to SWIRL - Speak, Write, Read, and Listen, all while Interacting - in meaningful and contextualized learning opportunities. Furthermore, integrated instruction calls for teachers themselves to be reflective practitioners. At Away We Go, we take the stance that language, literacy, and content knowledge can be developed by maintaining multiple lenses in our teaching.
4. COLLABORATION: Multilingual learners learn best when their team of teachers work together and share expertise. Collaborative approaches are paramount when working with multilingual students. When teams value each member's strength and expertise, this collaboration facilitates student success while communicating that student learning is the responsibility of ALL stakeholders. Multilingual learners benefit when their teachers work in cohesive, communicative, and creative ways, furthering the belief that an integrated approach is needed for our diverse students. #BetterTogether
5. EQUITY: Educators value multilingual learners, advocate for culturally relevant and responsive instruction, and ensure access to the curriculum. Multilingual learners and their teachers have historically needed an added measure of advocacy. As educators, we wear many hats, and as a multilingual educator, you can be sure that acting as advocates for our students is one of those “big hats” we must wear. Advocacy comes at all levels of education for multilingual students. As their teachers, we often must be their champions, a lifter of their voices, and trail blazers for what is needed for an equitable and rich education.
Author, speaker, and leadership expert Simon Sinek stated, “What you do proves what you believe.” At Away We Go, these words guide us as we passionately pursue advocacy and evidence based practices in language and literacy learning for ALL multilingual students.
We’d love to know: What values guide your teaching? What is your WHY? Leave it in the comments below!