August 12, 2019
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NORTH AMERICA
K-12 PARTNERSHIPS & TEXTESOLV: DEEPENING DIALOGUES ACROSS THE CHANGING NORTH TEXAS TESOL COMMUNITY
Katie Welch, Ph.D., Welch Education, Dallas, Texas, USA
The TexTESOLV affiliate completes its 40th year in 2019, and we have much to celebrate on this milestone anniversary. Not only do we have strong partnerships both with our fellow Texas affiliates (TexTESOL II, III, & IV) and our Russian sister affiliate Yakutsk TESOL, we also enjoy strong collaboration with the K-12 school districts within our own region. The latter, K-12 partnerships, is a hallmark of our affiliate that reflects the organization’s response to the ever-changing needs of ESL professionals across Texas.


A photo of the TexTESOLV Board

TexTESOL V was officially founded in February 1979 at the University of North Texas in Denton. During the fall of that same year, the affiliate held its first conference. As was the case with many affiliates during these early years of TexTESOL, many efforts were centered on teaching adults English – either abroad or in the United States. And yet as the demographics of Texas’ K-12 schools began to change in the late 1980s, the need to broaden the scope of the organization became apparent. In those early years, as more and more immigrants settled in Texas, the number of children in need of ESL services began to increase dramatically in school districts across the state. For the 1987-88 school year, the Texas Education Agency reported that 7% of Texas K-12 students were enrolled in a Bilingual or ESL program. Compared to the 2017-2018 report which lists the statewide enrollment at 18.9%, this represents an enormous increase in that 30-year span – from roughly 200,000 English learners in 1988 to well over a million serviced in 2018. (Texas Education Agency, 1998; 2018).

Not only have the numbers of English Learners increased during that time span, but so has knowledge of best practices for instructing them. Texas school districts currently have two options for ESL programs: 1) pull-out models whereby ESL students leave the mainstream classroom for lessons with a specialist, or 2) content-based programs wherein students remain in mainstream classrooms but are instructed by an ESL-endorsed teacher (Texas Classroom Teachers Association, 2019). As pull-out models have become less favored in recent years, the preference for content-based programs, combined with the exponential demographic growth in English learners, means that Texas has increasingly high needs for ESL-endorsed K-12 teachers. While initial ESL endorsement preparation is generally left to education preparation programs and regional service centers established by the Texas State Legislature, school districts are finding that simply passing the ESL certification exam does not necessarily lead to high-quality, differentiated instruction for ELs. Instead, ESL-endorsed educators need ongoing support, coaching, and professional development.

Thanks to the incredible foresight of the TexTESOLV Board of Directors in the late 1980s, the organization realized how critical it would be to provide professional development to ESL teachers of both children and adults and began to work more inclusively with the language professionals in K-12 educational settings. In the years since, the affiliate has developed a number of organizational practices to ensure our commitment to serving North Texas school districts. We currently have three interest sections, two focused on K-12 learners (one elementary, one secondary) and the other focused on adult learners (a combined higher education/adult education section). According to our by-laws, each of these three interest sections is represented by a Board Member on our 15-person Board of Directors. Additionally, even when non-interest section positions on the board become available, we remain mindful of our K-12/Higher Ed balance and recruit new members for whichever area is currently underrepresented.

Another way we include K-12 educators is both in the programming and the timing of our annual conference. When we solicit abstracts for conference talks, we ask submitters to mark on their proposal which interest section aligns with their talk. We then make proposal selections to ensure balanced offerings. We also try to select keynotes who will appeal to as broad of an audience as possible, often selecting speakers who focus on advocacy and other topics that are of high interest to all ESL teachers. Additionally, we keep in mind the budget cycle of the K-12 fiscal year, drawing on the expertise of our board members to identify the optimal time in the school year that will ensure inclusion for all of our membership.

Because Texas is divided into four separate TESOL affiliates, we know that the demographic shifts in our state not only affect us but also our sister affiliates in the San Antonio, Austin, and Houston areas. We have observed that they, too, are forming partnerships with school districts in their areas. At our most recent state conference, the attendance was broken down roughly 50-50 between K-12 and Adult/Higher Ed, with Secondary Education slightly more heavily represented than any of the other groups. (See Table 1.1 below.) This data tells us that not only were the late 1980’s board members correct in forecasting the changing needs in our region but that the subsequent boards have likewise responded to the challenge, allowing our organization to meet the needs of a wide range of stakeholders effectively.


Table 1.1
TexTESOL State Conference Data: Attendees by Population Served

One of the more recent outcomes of the collaboration is the establishment of college scholarships for graduating high school seniors. As our K-12 partnerships have yielded more successful conferences, we have begun to give back to our region in a way that both honors the importance of K-12 ESL education as well as the need for continued education in adulthood. Our conference goal each year is to generate enough income not simply to sustain the organization but also to provide four $1,000 scholarships for any graduating high school senior who was an English learner during any portion of his or her elementary or secondary education. We recently selected our 2019 scholarship recipients, who represent four of the 30+ English Learners that we have been able to sponsor so far. Being able to award these scholarships is a great point of pride for our affiliate and gives our work a deeper purpose since we know that in addition to providing services that broadly impact learners across the region, our efforts are also specifically improving individual lives.



As we look to the future of TexTESOLV and the next forty years, we have high hopes that our organization will continue to meet the ever-changing needs of North Texas ESL professionals and that our strong collaborations – both international, statewide, and even within our own diverse membership – will carry us forward.

Citations:

Texas Education Agency. (1998). Enrollment in Texas public schools, 1998-99. (Report No. 11). Austin, TX.

Texas Education Agency. (2018). Enrollment in Texas public schools, 2017-18. (Document No. GE18 601 06). Austin, TX.

Texas Classroom Teachers Association. (2019). Understanding ESL certification changes in 2018-19 and beyond. The Classroom Teacher, Winter 2018-2019, p. 7.

Katie Welch, Ph.D., is an educational consultant specializing in linguistics, language acquisition, and learning. She is currently serving as President of TexTESOLV and also served as conference chair of the 2018 state TexTESOL conference. Katie uses her 10+ years of experience training K-12 and adult ESL teachers to equip language educators to thrive in the classroom.

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Present at a TESOL 2020 Affiliate Session!
Submissions may be submitted online through 30 September.
Upcoming Affiliate Conferences

For additional conference information or to submit an event, visit the Worldwide Calendar of Events online.

October 2019

5: WATESOL Fall Conference 

11-12: Intermountain TESOL Annual Conference 

11-12: Ohio TESOL Conference 

12-13:  2019 Korea TESOL International Conference

November 2019

1-2: 2019 Puerto Rico TESOL Convention

1-2: MITESOL 2019 Conference

1-2: Arizona TESOL 2019 State Conference

2: Northern New England TESOL

7-9: 2019 Southeast Regional TESOL Conference

8-9: CoTESOL 43rd Annual Fall Convention

9: Maryland TESOL 39th Annual Fall Conference

14-16: NYS TESOL 49th Annual Conference

14-16: 19th International INGED ELT Conference

15-16: TESOL Italy's 44th National Convention

15-16: ORTESOL Fall Conference

16: WITESOL Fall Conference

20-23: TESOL-NELTA Regional Conference and Symposium 2019

29-1 December: 38th Annual TESOL France Colloquium

December 2019

5-6: TESL Ontario 47th Annual Conference

January 2020

6-9: 25th BETA TESOL International Anniversary Convention 2020