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What I (have so far) Learned at the ORTESOL 2018 Fall Conference

27 Nov 2018 8:50 AM | Anonymous

My middle school students use readworks.org which follows up some reading passages with the sentence frame “What I Learned.” I would like to answer that for the November 2018 ORTESOL Fall Conference because IT WAS GREAT and I (have so far) learned a lot  -- how about you? I’m trying to continue learning by contacting presenters and colleagues further about the sessions I could not attend or subjects they introduced me to aside the sessions.

Although teaching exclusively part-time online right now, I cannot say I was curious about the theme of the conference, “Navigating Change in TESOL,” but my interest was quickly piqued. Tutoring individuals from my living room has not seemed like a significant contribution or an advancement in teaching.  Have you ever felt that way at some point, and did it prompt a change? Others’ careers fascinate me so I looked forward to features like the Friday Navigating Change panel. The English Learner and Equity Specialist at Oregon Dept. of Ed., Taffy Carlisle brought up issues and needs of ELLs that I realized were addressed by online teaching. Ms. Carlisle said the key to service is to “go to their homes,” which I am doing, every day in every lesson. I latched onto that idea and referred to it and others in my own presentation, “Easy Online TESOL.”

In sessions I managed to attend, I heard more pedagogical and career-affirming messages. Did you find anything similar? Presenting “Tech Skills Employers Want and Students Need,” Professor Susan Gaer revealed to me that my use of technology develops skills transferrable to my clients’ (current and potential) work and further study. Not only have I guided unfamiliar Skype users, introduced tech tools, and taught PowerPoint use, but engineering and IT professionals who I have tutored frequently teach me tech skills that I later convey to other students when necessary. Obviously online teaching exceeds “tech for tech’s sake”, as Kaitlin Lucas instructed in her “Web Tools for Classroom Differentiation.” Moreover that differentiation is the hallmark of my lessons and recommended in experts’ tips for effective and unique online teaching. With such encouragement by a leader in our field, I am excited to expand my methods and begin using the HyperDocs and Digital Choice Boards Dr. Lucas introduced, which have immediate application in my venue.

Even where we could not imagine the application of a topic, it wasapparent. Linda Bonder’s “Teaching Listening for the Real World” turned out to highlight internet resources along with her spot-on strategies. Also surprising was the amount of online retail materials and the provision of items I constantly seek, such as the free ones at National Geographic Learning. One vender gifted attendees with a book featuring the type of vocabulary exercises that have eluded my internet searches. As a former social studies major without a current learning community, “Community-based Learning” inspired ideas that might work for some online students. Graciously led by Ms.’s Thomas, Tennyson, and Mendicino, discussion and brainstorming introduced another attendee who teaches a vital course in language acquisition. I am waiting now for further information. What resources did you get “to go”?

Back at my computer, I miss conferring with colleagues and do not consider myself very influential, but that image is under revision. As the Saturday Plenary speaker, President of AFT-Oregon, David Rives related his career path, I recognized common motivations, values, and concerns. Afterward a group of us were looking together at the upcoming sessions and wondering about the messages of the U.S. Dept. of State English Language Programs in the session “English Teachers as Citizen Diplomats.” Even alone from my little corner desk, might I promote positive foreign relations? I communicate many optimistic viewpoints, find common ground in values and needs, show willingness and ability to understand, and explain some culture to people of different conceptual frameworks. We help people interact with each other, especially the rest of U.S. Succinct or grandiose, the idea is only offered to you here.

After my presentation, someone repeated a question: “Why do you think you have been successful online?” Urged to explain only the second time ever, I got to the bottom-line, for me – I am an educator with professional training, experience, and official recognition from my peers and superiors. You, ORTESOL, in the Fall Conference, revealed this truth.

Linda Rasmussen

Rassmusen FA2018 ORTESOL Conference_easy online teaching resources.pdf

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