December 2020
From the President: Brought to You by the Letter V
by Deborah J. Short

This month’s column is brought to you by the letter V. Those of you who have watched Sesame Street may remember that each episode features a letter or two and ends with a message like this. In reflecting on November 2020 and looking toward December, I find no better letter than V to suit this time.

V is for Virus. The COVID-19 virus has cast a long, deadly shadow on our year. We have chronicled its disruptive and destructive force on education and the economy. We have suffered and struggled yet done our best for our students, colleagues, families, and friends. We can now also recognize its role in promoting innovations and interconnections. So, some benefit has come from the crisis.

V is for Virtual Convention as well. Because of the ongoing pandemic, the TESOL Board of Directors decided to hold our 2021 Convention remotely. Safeguarding our members’ health is very important and continuing to bring you research and pedagogical knowledge about effective English language teaching is equally so. From 24–27 March, we will showcase 500 presentations, four or five keynotes, and an abundance of networking opportunities. Recordings will be available for you to watch for 60 days after the Convention ends. And 23–24 March, we will have 10 Preconvention Institutes, with the Graduate Student Forum on 23 March.

V is also for Vote. November saw an election in the United States that resulted in a vote for a new head of government. We have issued a statement declaring our hope that the Biden-Harris administration will strengthen our TESOL community with more funding for public schools, more attention to the needs of teachers of English learners, and an end to Visa bans and the travel restrictions faced by foreign students and individuals from certain countries, among other policy recommendations. With an English teacher as first lady, we can hope more good will come.

V is notably also for Vaccine. November brought the very welcome news of three effective vaccines against COVID-19. We can now see a way out of this dreadful year and look forward to a recovery. It will take time, maybe 6 months or more before the vaccines are widely distributed and people are inoculated, and we won’t return to the same life we had before the virus victimized us, but we will prevail and we will be stronger.

Because, in the end, V is for Victory. The vaccines will give us a victory over the virus. TESOL’s vision and values will be sustained. Our strategic objectives and communities of practice will be more vibrant and viable than ever.

I thank you for your valor in these dangerous times. I wish you vim, vigor, and vitality during the upcoming holiday season. And I wish you peace. ✌️

Deborah J. Short, PhD, is TESOL International Association president (2020–2021). She directs Academic Language Research & Training, LLC and provides professional development on academic literacy, content-based ESL, and sheltered instruction worldwide. She has led numerous research projects related to English learner education, codeveloped the SIOP Model, and served as series editor for several 6 Principles books.