Professional Update

July 2018 and March 2019 SRIS Newsletters: Continuing the Conversation, Building Solidarity and Allyship

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog, but in the meantime, I’ve continued to publish TESOLers for Social Responsibility, the newsletter of TESOL’s Social Responsibility Interest Section. This post will highlight the work we published both in response to the 2018 TESOL Convention in Chicago and leading up to the 2019 TESOL Convention that just wrapped up in Atlanta.

The July 2018 issue of the newsletter was called Continuing the Conversation, Building Solidarity, a theme that was conceived of as a way to extend the conversations started in Chicago. The 2018 convention marked the final year that TESOL had “Forums,” before they transitioned to a new “Professional Learning Network” or PLN model. Many of the Forums that became PLNs focused on identity related or social justice issues, and so we in SRIS were very aware of the change and the reduction of resources as groups became PLNs, so we decided to make space in our newsletter for articles by and about the PLNs. My article, Black Spaces and White Norms: The Importance of BELPaF for the TESOL Community, directly responded to the change in the status of TESOL’s Black English Language Professionals and Friends group, and called on TESOL to recognize the importance of maintaining support for groups that are underrepresented within the organization, especially Black TESOLers. In the second article, Invalidated Identity and Foreign Language Anxiety: A Personal Reflection, James D. Mitchell, a member of the LGBT+ PLN, provided his perspective on how foreign language classrooms can be invalidating spaces for LGBTQ+ learners. Next, in Social Intelligence Course Implementation for English Learners, Jennifer Burr outlined a course that was deliberately designed to build social intelligence skills for newcomer students in Texas. Continuing the focus on learners’ emotional skills, Zsuzsanna Kozák & Ildikó Lázár described how a multimedia project about the Holocaust they conducted in Hungary developed students’ empathy in The Neighbor’s Window: A Visual World Foundation Project on Bystanders Becoming Upstanders. We also shared Cinthya Salazar’s review of the book Teachers as Allies: Transformative Practices for teaching DREAMers and Undocumented Students.

Our pre-convention issue was published earlier this month and focused on Allyship. We started with an article from the Sister Scholars on Speaking Up and Pushing Back: Women of Color in the Academy. These seven women (Rachel Grant, Ryuko Kubota, Angel Lin, Suhanthie Motha, Gertrude Tinker Sachs, Stephanie Vandrick, & Shelley Wong) have been my academic role models ever since I read their article Women Faculty of Color: Theorizing Our Lived Experience when I was in grad school, and it was such an honor to highlight their work from their annual TESOL panel in the newsletter. The theme of race in TESOL continued through the next two articles as well. Scott Stillar wrote a powerful reflection on Decentering Whiteness in TESOL, and my co-editor Anastasia Khawaja wrote with her colleague Lianna Smith on being White women co-chairing TESOL’s Palestinian Educators and friends PLN in Collaboration Under Occupation: Allyship for Palestine. Next, my dear friend and colleague from Tanzania, Catherine James Njau, shared the menstrual education work she does to keep Tanzanian girls in school in Keep Them Flying: Reusable Menstrual Pads and Girls Education in Tanzania. The next article, Out with the Textbook, In with the Computer: Empowering Immigrant University Employees in the ESL Classroom, showcased a course Lisana Mohammed designed to teach English to custodial workers at her university. We end the issue with two pieces focusing on trans and non-binary gender in TESOL. In the first, Transgender University Experience in Mexico, David Ruiz Guzmán shares his experience teaching two transgender students as they navigated language and gender in a rural part of Mexico. Finally, Gabe Winer shares their ideas on how we as TESOL professionals can normalize singular they and create more inclusive educational spaces for transgender, gender nonconforming and nonbinary people in Beyond He/She: The Power of Language in Making ESOL Environments Inclusive for Trans and Nonbinary Students and Colleagues.

It has been an absolute privilege sharing some many powerful ideas and perspectives in the SRIS newsletter over the last two years, and I am incredibly proud of the work Anastasia and I did in reviving and revitalizing the newsletter. We’ve got one final issue,  Social Justice and the Arts, that we are co-editing as a handoff issue with our incredible incoming editors, Luis Javier Pentón Herrera and Ethan Trinh, as Anastasia and I transition into our new roles as Co-Chairs of SRIS. If you’re interested in writing for us, please check out the Call for Submissions and send in your article by April 15!

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