A guest post by Luciana C. de Oliveira
In this blog, Luciana de Oliveira reflects on the eight worldwide conferences she’s attended in the past 3 years as a participant in the TESOL Affiliate Speaker Program.
This past March, I ended a 3-year term on the TESOL Board of Directors. Those were a very busy 3 years in my professional life, and among the best in my career. Part of what made them the best was my participation in the TESOL Affiliate Speaker Program. I was invited to and participated in eight conferences led by eight affiliates: Uruguay TESOL (URUTESOL), Louisiana TESOL (LaTESOL), Yakut TESOL, California and Nevada TESOL (CATESOL), North and South Dakota TESL (Dakota TESL), Illinois TESOL (ITBE), Sunshine State TESOL of Florida, and Asociación Costarricense de Profesores de Inglés (ACPI-TESOL).
In March 2013, I went to my first conference in Uruguay, hosted by URUTESOL, where I met amazing scholars and teachers. My plenary “Using audio feedback in EFL/ESL classes” opened the conference, which occurred in beautiful Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. I also had a chance to go around the city and explore its monuments, city life, and—of course—amazing food. That was the beginning of a wonderful experience through the program!
2014: LaTESOL, Yakut TESOL, and CATESOL
At LaTESOL, I presented the plenary “Navigating the waters of the Common Core State Standards: Expectations for writing” and the featured workshop “A genre-based approach to writing instruction for ELLs: Addressing the demands of the CCSS.” Plenary and workshop participants were specially appreciative of the ideas I presented about how to address the demands of the CCSS with ELLs by focusing on writing through a teaching/learning cycle that leads students through three phases (deconstruction, joint construction, and independent construction) and provides the kind of scaffolding that is so crucial for second language writers (more about this approach can be find in my CCSS and ELLs TESOL Press series).
Yakut TESOL in Yakutsk, Russia, was next, and it was my first time in a country where I didn’t speak the language! (I wrote about my experiences in a TESOL blog post). There I presented a plenary “A genre-based approach to writing instruction” applied to teaching English as a foreign language and a follow-up keynote “A genre-based approach to writing instruction: Tips for implementation,” in which I described what EFL teachers can do when teaching writing in their respective contexts. I led teachers in jointly constructing an informational report to model how they can focus on genres with their students. Lastly, I presented the session “About TESOL” and spoke about what a TESOL membership can offer.
At CATESOL, I presented the plenary “Thinking about Common Core Standards: Connecting, creating, and sharing insights” in which I discussed the expectations and demands of the CCSS English language arts standards and connecting these to the new English language development standards that were released in California in 2012. I also participated in a discussion session put together by the Non-Native Language Educators’ Issues Interest Group in which we discussed issues related to professionalism, discrimination, and the job market for multilingual teachers.
2015: Dakota TESL
At Dakota TESL, serving both South Dakota and North Dakota, I presented the plenary “College and Career Readiness Standards for K–12 and Adult Education and ELLs: Expectations for writing” and the featured workshop “A genre-based approach to writing instruction for ELLs: Addressing the demands of the new standards and beyond.” The conference organizers requested that I speak about both the CCSS and the College and Readiness Standards for Adult Education, as many of their conference participants and members work in adult education programs. This was a new area for me, but one for which I am grateful as I was able to discuss similarities and differences between these standards.
2016: ITBE, Sunshine State TESOL of Florida, and ACPI-TESOL
At ITBE, I presented the plenary “Planned and interactional scaffolding: Six Cs of support,” in which I discussed and provided examples of planned scaffolding and interactional scaffolding used by K–12 teachers in real classroom situations.
Sunshine State TESOL of Florida—now my home affiliate—came next. I presented the plenary “Academic language in WIDA, the Florida Standards and beyond.” This session provided examples of academic language in various standards documents. Participants analyzed texts in mathematics and science and identified the different ways that academic language presents challenges and possibilities for ELLs in K–12 and beyond.
My last conference was ACPI-TESOL in Costa Rica, where I met a number of wonderful colleagues who immediately became friends! My workshop, “A genre-based approach to writing instruction,” led teachers to experience the joint construction of a descriptive report. We deconstructed a descriptive report about Spain that served as a mentor text by looking at its stages of “positioning” and “description” and identifying how the text started, moved sentence from sentence, and made connections to other parts of the text. We then moved on to the joint construction of a similar text, with me as the “teacher” and the workshop participants as my “students.”
The TESOL Affiliate Speaker Program provides affiliates the opportunity to have TESOL Board or staff members at their conferences. I am so thankful for the opportunities this program afforded me as a board member, for the contributions I was able to make, and for all of the amazing people I have met. Affiliate leaders, please take advantage of this wonderful opportunity!
Luciana C. de Oliveira, PhD, is chair and associate professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at the University of Miami, Florida. She was a member of the TESOL Board of Directors (2013–2016).