English Language Teaching Symposium creates community

The first Elon University English Language Teaching Symposium was held Saturday, Feb. 16, bringing together more than 100 local educators for presentations, active learning sessions and two keynote presentations by national leaders in English language education. The ELT Symposium focused on the theme of "Bridging Divides | Creating Community."  

On Saturday, Feb. 16, the first English Language Teaching Symposium at Elon University was held in Moseley Center from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Co-hosted by Jennifer Eidum, assistant professor of English, Courtney Kobos, student and Leadership Prize recipient, and the Elon Teaching Fellows program, the symposium brought together over 100 local educators with the mission to share pedagogical innovations, ask difficult questions, and support students of all backgrounds. Attendees included participants from elementary, middle, and high schools in the Alamance-Burlington School System, Alamance Community College, Orange, Wilkes, Greensboro, and Durham county schools, and Elon faculty and Teaching Fellows students.

The symposium began with a morning keynote presentation by Mandy Stewart, Associate Professor of Reading Education at Texas Woman’s University. In her presentation, Stewart shared practical teaching techniques from her book "Keep it R.E.A.L! Relevant, Engaging, and Affirming Literacy for Adolescent English Learners." She is also the author of Understanding Adolescent Immigrants: Moving Toward and Extraordinary Discourse for Extraordinary Youth.

During the morning concurrent sessions, local educators shared their techniques for culturally responsive teaching, supporting DACA students, math literacy, working with English language learners (ELLs), selecting books for ELLs and creative writing techniques.

The lunch keynote was presented by Suhanthie Motha, associate professor of English at the University of Washington. Her presentation, based upon her award-winning book "Race, Empire, and English Language Teaching," discussed the often-contradictory nature of English language teaching in the world, with suggestions for classroom activism.

The afternoon concurrent sessions invited participants to break barriers in their classrooms, use Shakespeare to support diverse learners and recalibrate reading assignments to include all students.

Throughout the day, symposium participants were assigned to sit at “home tables,” where they made connections with participants from other institutions. In the afternoon, groups spent time reflecting upon their learning, synthesizing the new knowledge with their prior teaching experiences, and recording their action plans on posters for all participants to see.

The symposium concluded with a gallery walk to recognize the common themes and celebrate participants’ ongoing learning.

The English Language Teaching Symposium was made possible by Elon University Teaching Fellows, Elon University Leadership Prize, the English Department and Global Neighborhood, and grants from Elon’s Fund for Excellence and the Intellectual Climate committee.