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ELLcafe

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Why #ELLcafe?  When I was an ESL teacher working with students across multiple grade levels, my students asked if we could create an "ELL Cafe" at lunch, where students could meet, learn about each other, and share experiences as bilingual and bicultural learners.  Seeing how much each of them wanted to be included in a community, I so was happy to accommodate and facilitate! After a while, the students asked if they could host an "ELL Cafe for Educators" where they brought in food from their various cultures to the school-library-turned-cafe.  We had a planning committee with more and more students involved.  We sent out invitations to all staff for what became an annual event.  At the ELL Cafe, students served the educators of the school and taught them about their cultures and recipes.  It was time to share, connect, learn and celebrate.

Now, as Director and Lead Coach of Confianza Consulting, I hear many educators I work with and 'see' online through social media, crave a similar connection.  We may often feel overwhelmed by the preponderance of resources and ideas out there without time to process what we are doing right now.  We may feel alone and seeking a community. I understand those needs because, as a teacher for many years, I felt very alone and wanting to learn and share from others.  We didn't have social media back then though.  Sure, workshops, conferences and webinars are great, but learning from each other in 'real time' is the best!  I am proud to have led many innovative professional learning networks, including collaborations with the Gates Foundation, WestEd, Center for Applied Linguistics and Race to to the Top with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

In our online and on-site courses and coaching at Confianza, educators say they love connecting through face-time and video!  So I'm excited to offer this free professional learning network to educators of English Language Learners (ELLs).  Confianza's Coaches are terrific facilitators and together, we can co-create a community where we discuss the issues we face, resources we find effective, and most of all, celebrations of our learning and the learning of our students.

Sarah Ottow

If you're interested, you can read about some of my teaching experiences here and here

and my work leading professional learning networks here and here and here