I can’t believe it’s been six months. I started my tenure at TESOL International Association on 1 May and have been so immersed in all that we are doing—from convention to advocacy, from membership to publications, from association governance to professional learning—that I have hardly had time to reflect. As I do that now, I want to first emphasize what an incredible association this is. Looking at our board, our professional councils, interest sections, and affiliate leaders, all our volunteers, our staff, and our members, I am incredibly impressed and humbled by the dedication, hard work, and expertise everyone displays for English teaching and English language learning.
So, what have I done in the past six months? Well, I have learned a lot. Whether in person, on the phone, over Skype, or through email, I have already connected personally with hundreds of members. Knowing what motivates you, excites you, and, yes, even frustrates you is very important to me, and I want to continue this level of engagement and build on it over the next six months and beyond.
I have also met with more than two dozen colleague organizations dedicated to supporting education and language learning, including the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL), the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE), and University and College Intensive English Programs (UCIEP). Identifying opportunities to work across organizations to support the work you do and to raise our voices collectively is so important given the challenging global political environment we face. We’ve spoken out about U.S. immigration policies and priorities, and we’ve reached policy makers at the state level. We’ve supported robust funding for international and language education in the U.S. Departments of State and Education, and I have met with colleagues at both departments to promote quality language instruction in the United States and throughout the world. In September, I met with U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and emphasized the critical importance of ELL teacher preparation, urging continued support for the Office of English Language Acquisition’s professional development grants. Advocating for our teachers and students is crucial. I plan to continue to do all I can and hope that you will all join me.
I have attended a number of TESOL events, including the Research Symposium, which we held in partnership with The International Research Foundation for English Language Education (TIRF), and our Advocacy & Policy Summit, which sold out! This summer, TESOL President Ester de Jong and I traveled to China to attend an English teaching conference, meet with English teachers, and cement partnerships with organizations that share our values in promoting inclusive, quality English teaching. This fall, I participated in a British Council dialogue on English teaching in Latin America. Our profession and the challenges we face in different contexts is so diverse that I hope and expect to continue to engage with teachers across the globe to better understand and to better serve their needs. I am especially looking forward to building on and expanding our partnerships with affiliated associations through our new Affiliate Network Professional Council. We all have so much to give and to learn from each other, and I am looking forward to expanding our opportunities to do just that.
Finally, though I have yet to experience my first TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo, it looms over and beckons me, just as I am sure it does for many of you who will attend, present, and exhibit in Chicago. I look forward to meeting you there!
TESOL is, of course, so much more than our convention. We provide opportunities for professional learning year-round, release new publications throughout the year, and issue TESOL Journal and TESOL Quarterly, well, quarterly. As we say, the world comes together at TESOL. I am so looking forward to greeting you all and to meeting and talking with as many of you as possible.
It has been a great start for me at TESOL, but in many ways, the fun—and the work—is just beginning!