A Look Back at 2019

Dear Dr. Mooney offers advice to teachers of English Learners through articles based upon common questions educators ask.  Last week, we looked back at the common themes of the advice articles – Understanding English Learners and Being Understood by ELs and Their Families.

In addition to advice, Dear Dr. Mooney offers reviews of relevant resources and a place for teachers to find and give support

Relevant Resources

The resources suggested here are ones I have used in some capacity. However, the ones I chose to review in depth this year are those that have had a significant influence on my work. 

I first read Scaffolding Language, Scaffolding Learning by Pauline Gibbons about 10 years ago when I was teaching third grade. A few colleagues and I studied it during our PLC (Professional Learning Community) and had the opportunity to share the highlights with other teachers. Currently, I use it as a textbook in teaching an undergraduate TESOL survey course. The text provides a solid foundation for understanding best principles for teaching ELs, and it’s jam-packed with activities for the teaching of reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

Another facet of my current work is focused on effective family/school engagement. Engage Every Family is the basis for meetings I have with faculty at a local elementary school. We meet monthly to discuss the book’s chapters and apply its contents to their context. Some really important conversations about our deep-seated beliefs and real-life practices about family engagement are coming up. I can’t wait to see what changes may result!

Finding Support

Discussion Forums provide teachers with a place to ask questions of colleagues near and far. Although I respond to questions in the Forums, it’s even better when members respond, providing support to one another. Those who are currently doing the same type of work can provide the most relevant and timely responses.

Some of the 2019 Discussion Forums focused on sharing ideas about honoring ELs’ cultures in the classroom, the benefits of structured small group tasks, or working with long-term English Learners.

Working with English Learners and their families is typically fulfilling and joyful, but it can also be gut wrenching if your students live with the accumulating effects of deep poverty. This work is not for the faint of heart, and thankfully, most teachers of ELs are strong and compassionate. However, it is also not work to be done in isolation. Teachers need the support of students’ families, their administrators, and one another. 

Other Forums highlighted the need for teachers to develop friendships with like-minded colleagues in order to support one another and prevent compassion fatigue.

All these Discussion Forums provide a place for teachers to find support for themselves and their work. Sharing ideas for lesson activities, authentic assessments, and classroom management strategies allows all of us to be more effective teachers. Sharing a listening ear or a timely, encouraging word allows us to be more empathetic as human beings. 

Have you added your own self-introduction or contributed to a Forum? 
If not, I hope you will take advantage of this unique opportunity to develop supportive relationships with more colleagues in 2020.


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Wishing you happy holidays with friends and family!


A special ‘thank you’ goes out to my husband, Tim, who has supported the development of Dear Dr. Mooney, including the technical knowledge needed to launch and maintain the website. I couldn’t have done it without him!

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