I Tried to Be Just Like My Teaching Mentor…and I Failed

When I first entered the world of teaching, I was incredibly excited to make an impact on the lives of my students. I had spent years aspiring to become a teacher, inspired by my own mentor – Ms. Parkins. She was the epitome of what a perfect teacher looked like: passionate, understanding, and exceptional.

I set out on my journey with high aspirations, determined to mirror every aspect of her teaching style. Little did I know this path would inevitably lead to a series of failures and self-discoveries that would shape me into the teacher I am today.

Ms. Parkins had always been an attentive listener, so I made it my priority to actively listen to each and every one of my students’ concerns and ideas. As an empathetic individual, she connected with her students on a deep level and could decipher their emotions effortlessly, so I too tried to grasp their feelings in order to offer meaningful support.

In trying to adopt her stringent discipline methods, my initial days as a teacher turned into a constant struggle where authoritative words clashed with doubts and frustrations bubbling within me. Despite attempting to mimic Ms. Parkins’ unwavering optimism in even the most difficult situations, the roaring storm of self-doubt took control over me.

Gradually, it dawned upon me that merely emulating her techniques wouldn’t suffice; instead, I needed to forge my own distinctive teaching style that corresponded with my core beliefs, values, and strengths.

As different as we were from each other, failure became my guide – forcing me to dig deeper into understanding my abilities and limitations as a teacher. It coaxed me into rekindling the connection with my inner self and using my unique qualities as assets rather than hindrances.

Acknowledging my failures enabled me to admit that matching Ms. Parkins’ teaching prowess didn’t necessarily mean becoming the best version of myself as an educator. It took courage to forge my own identity while embracing my imperfections and aligning my methods with it.

Although it took me failing to realize the importance of self-awareness and authenticity, those very same failures taught me as much as my mentor herself. In truth, it was the combination of both failure and her guidance that allowed me to evolve into the teacher I am today.

Ironically, my failure in trying to be a carbon copy of Ms. Parkins transformed into a successful pursuit of becoming an unmatched educator with my own distinct teaching philosophy.

And so I owe my growth not just to the teaching prodigy Ms. Parkins but also to embracing my imperfections and acknowledging that even in failure, there’s always something valuable to be learned.

Classroom Posters: Supporting English Language Learners


Classroom posters are a critical aspect of modern teaching methodology, providing aesthetic and functional elements that can enhance the learning environment within a classroom setting. They feature visually appealing designs, colors, and content to engage students frequently during the lessons. An area where posters can make an impressive impact is in supporting English Language Learners (ELLs). With their diverse abilities and backgrounds, ELLs benefit from visual aids and contextual information to support language acquisition successfully.

In this article, we will explore different classroom poster types and their effectiveness in supporting ELLs. We’ll highlight what makes a great poster for this demographic and ways to implement them in classrooms.

Types of Classroom Posters for English Language Learners:

1. Vocabulary Posters:

Vocabulary posters enhance ELL students’ linguistic arsenal by introducing them to essential words they will encounter during their studies. These posters typically display high-frequency words or subject-specific vocabulary with concise definitions or translations to other languages spoken by students. Teachers can refer to these posters during discussions as they add new material or elaborate on familiar content.

2. Grammar Posters:

Grammar posters are crucial tools for ELLs who struggle with English language conventions. These visual aids display sentence structures, verb conjugations, tense rules, parts of speech, and common punctuation. Grammar posters provide an at-a-glance reference for ELLs when they need assistance with grammatical principles or require clarification about language rules.

3. Content-Based Posters:

These posters are specific to the subject matter being taught in the classroom. For ELLs, content-based posters can provide contextual support by illustrating abstract concepts using images, diagrams, and simplified explanations that align with the curriculum. They offer clarity through visualization and promote better comprehension.

4. Inspirational or Motivational Posters:

One aspect of ensuring the academic success of ELLs is creating an inclusive and uplifting environment. Inspirational or motivational posters with quotes or affirmations that celebrate different cultures, languages, and achievements can foster positive feelings amongst students. Such posters inspire ELLs to continue learning and striving for success.

5. Cultural Representation Posters:

Cultural representation posters encourage an inclusive classroom environment and embrace the cultural diversity students bring to the classroom. Posters that exhibit various cultural themes, traditions, and symbols in a respectful manner promote understanding among ELL students and their peers.

Best Practices for Creating Classroom Posters for ELLs:

• Use clear fonts, large text size, and contrast colors to improve readability

• Align visuals and text with curriculum objectives

• Include translations, explanations, or pronunciation guides for language support

• Use images and diagrams to reinforce understanding

• Regularly update posters to maintain student interest


Classroom posters have a significant impact on English Language Learners’ educational experiences. By applying thoughtfully designed posters that cater to diverse learners’ needs, teachers can create an inclusive atmosphere promoting language acquisition and success in the classroom. Experimenting with different poster designs will help you find which specific elements complement your content and resonate best with your students.

5 Things You Learn If You Don’t Share a First Language With Students

Teaching is a complex and multifaceted profession, especially when you have to communicate with students who don’t share your first language. Despite the challenges, these situations offer great opportunities for personal and professional growth. Here are five valuable lessons you can learn if you don’t share a first language with your students.

1. The Importance of Patience

Patience is crucial when teaching in a multilingual classroom. Both you and your students will need time to adapt and understand each other’s language, culture, and communication styles. By being patient and persistent, you’ll create an environment where learning can flourish despite language barriers.

2. Nonverbal Communication is Vital

Effective communication goes beyond words, so it’s important to pay attention to nonverbal cues in a multicultural classroom. Gestures, facial expressions, and body language can help bridge the gap between different languages. Developing your nonverbal communication skills will not only improve your interactions with students who speak different languages but also enrich your teaching overall.

3. The Value of Cultural Sensitivity

When working with students who have diverse cultural backgrounds, it’s essential to be sensitive to their individual needs and experiences. Understanding different cultural norms and practices allows you to build stronger relationships with your students while fostering a more inclusive learning environment.

4. Problem-solving Skills Are Enhanced

Teaching students who don’t share a common language tests your problem-solving abilities as an educator. Overcoming linguistic obstacles requires creativity and resourcefulness – skills that are valuable in all aspects of life. As you develop new techniques and strategies for reaching diverse learners, your problem-solving expertise will continue to grow.

5. Lifelong Learning Becomes the Norm

Encountering linguistic barriers in the classroom is bound to make you more aware of your own language skills and limitations. Working with multilingual students often inspires teachers to improve their language proficiency and learn about other cultures. Embracing lifelong learning as a teacher not only benefits your professional growth but can also encourage your students to do the same.

In summary, teaching students who don’t share your first language can be challenging, yet it offers tremendous opportunities for personal and professional growth. By focusing on patience, nonverbal communication, cultural sensitivity, problem-solving skills, and lifelong learning, you will not only improve your teaching repertoire but also create a more inclusive and effective learning environment for all your students.

Do You Know an ELL Teacher Who Could Use Some Recognition?

Every day, English Language Learner (ELL) teachers dedicate themselves to supporting students who are mastering the English language as they navigate through the educational system. These educators work diligently to provide the necessary tools, resources, and encouragement to ensure that their ELL students succeed in the classroom and beyond. With so much on their plate, it is important for us to recognize, appreciate, and support their invaluable contributions to the education of our future generations.

Each ELL teacher faces unique challenges as they tailor their approach to the diverse needs of their students. Whether teaching in an urban setting or a rural community, these educators exhibit exceptional adaptability, cultural sensitivity, and patience. Amid rapid changes in immigration policies and school demographics, ELL teachers remain steadfast advocates for their students.

Do you know an ELL teacher who goes above and beyond – displaying creativity in lesson plans and curriculum development, demonstrating unwavering support for their students, or collaborating effectively with other educators to build inclusive learning environments? It’s time that these unsung heroes receive the recognition they deserve!

There are several ways we can acknowledge outstanding ELL educators:

1. Nominate them for teaching awards: Local and national awards exist specifically for recognizing exceptional ELL instructors. Research award programs within your school district or at a broader level like the TESOL International Association’s Excellence Awards program.

2. Tell their story on social media: Give a shoutout to your favorite ELL teacher by posting about them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. Include pictures or videos that demonstrate their teaching style and how they’ve impacted students’ lives; remember to ask permission beforehand.

3. Share stories with local news outlets: Contact local newspapers or television stations to share stories of extraordinary teachers making a significant difference in education. Provide them with compelling anecdotes that showcase how these devoted teachers have enriched student learning experiences.

4. Write a letter of appreciation: A heartfelt letter expressing gratitude for their hard work and dedication can make a lasting impact on an ELL teacher. Share stories of their influence and describe how they have made a difference in their student’s lives.

5. Organize an appreciation event for your school: Coordinate with other members of your school community to celebrate ELL teachers by hosting a special event. It could be a simple breakfast, luncheon, or after-school gathering that thanks them for their efforts.

Let’s come together to shine a light on the exceptional ELL teachers who make it their mission to help students overcome language barriers and thrive academically. Celebrate their accomplishments, showcase their stories, and ensure they know how much they are valued!

Tips for Supporting Your English Language Learners in Remote Learning


The shift to remote learning has been both a challenge and an opportunity for educators across the globe. This change is particularly crucial for English Language Learners (ELLs) and educators who must find innovative ways to support language acquisition and learning in a digital environment. To effectively support your ELL students, consider incorporating the following tips and strategies.

1. Provide clear instructions

Keep instructions simple, clear, and brief. Use step-by-step explanations with visuals, like flowcharts or diagrams, to eliminate confusion. It’s also helpful to check for understanding by asking students to paraphrase or repeat their understanding of the task.

2. Incorporate multimedia resources

Embrace the use of videos, audio recordings, and interactive presentations to bring content to life and engage your ELL students in multiple ways that cater to diverse learning preferences.

3. Encourage collaborative learning

Promote social interaction among students through breakout rooms, group chats, and forums. These activities not only foster a sense of community but can also help break down language barriers as students learn from one another.

4. Offer additional support materials

Ensure that ELLs have access to supplementary materials like vocabulary lists, examples of sentences in proper context, and grammar explanations. This extra support can go a long way in helping students grasp complex concepts during remote instruction.

5. Provide regular feedback

Provide constructive feedback frequently to help ELL students track their progress and address any concerns promptly. Also, maintain an open dialogue with them about course content and learning goals through video calls or online messaging systems.

6. Use scaffolding techniques

Break down tasks and activities into smaller, more manageable steps to make them easier for students—especially for those who are still mastering English proficiency. Scaffolding techniques will make content more accessible and foster gradual independence as learners acquire new skills.

7. Cater instruction to individual needs

Personalize learning by offering a variety of activities and assignments that cater to different proficiency levels and learning styles. Assign differentiated tasks to ensure that each student is adequately challenged and supported in their development.


Remote learning can be a challenging experience for many students, especially English Language Learners. As an educator in this unique situation, it is vital to adjust your teaching strategies to ensure your students succeed while learning remotely. By incorporating these tips into your teaching approach, you can better support ELLs’ language development process and foster ongoing engagement in the virtual classroom.

Transform Your ELL Classroom with a Free ‘Change Your Words’ Bulletin Board Kit


In today’s diverse educational landscape, teachers must continuously search for new resources to enhance their English language learner (ELL) classrooms. One exceptional tool is the free “Change Your Words” Bulletin Board Kit, designed specifically to foster an inclusive and engaging environment for ELL students. This article will explore the benefits this kit offers and demonstrate how you can seamlessly incorporate it into your classroom.

What is the “Change Your Words” Bulletin Board Kit?

The “Change Your Words” Bulletin Board Kit is a comprehensive, downloadable resource that presents a creative way to inspire and engage students in your ELL classroom. The kit focuses on transforming negative language into positive affirmations through visually appealing displays that encourage constructive self-talk. By integrating this powerful learning tool, you can foster an inclusive, supportive, and motivating environment tailored to meet the unique needs of your ELL students.

Benefits of the “Change Your Words” Bulletin Board Kit:

1. Encourages positive self-talk: The kit promotes positivity by showcasing revised statements that replace negative language with uplifting words or phrases.

2. Enhances vocabulary acquisition: As students learn new English words, they simultaneously develop their vocabulary through exposure to positive affirmations.

3. Fosters inclusivity: The visually appealing displays complement diverse classroom settings by promoting an inclusive atmosphere where all students feel valued.

4. Boosts motivation and engagement: When surrounded by uplifting affirmations, ELL students are likely to experience a heightened sense of motivation, enhancing their overall classroom engagement.

How To Incorporate the “Change Your Words” Bulletin Board Kit into Your Classroom:

Step 1: Download and print the kit from the designated website.

Step 2: Cut out the individual pieces according to their shapes and sizes.

Step 3: Arrange the cut-out elements on your bulletin board in a visually engaging manner – consider grouping related phrases together, pairing contrasting statements, or creating a unique design using creative borders and backgrounds.

Step 4: Discuss with your students the impact of positive self-talk on their learning experience and encourage them to practice using uplifting language both in and outside the classroom.

Step 5: Routinely update and adapt the bulletin board to maintain students’ interest, allowing it to evolve as your students’ language skills grow.


Incorporating the “Change Your Words” Bulletin Board Kit into your ELL classroom is a simple yet effective way to foster an inclusive, engaging, and supportive environment. By nurturing positive self-talk and promoting interactive learning, you will create an atmosphere where ELL students can thrive as they develop their language skills. Download the free kit today and witness the transformative impact it can have on your classroom.

Scaffolding Writing Instruction for English-Language Learners


Teaching English as a second language encompasses various skills, one of the most crucial being writing. For English-language learners (ELLs), developing a strong foundation in writing is essential to both academic and professional success. Scaffolding writing instruction offers a systematic and supportive approach that helps ELLs gradually develop their writing skills. This article explores the concept of scaffolding, its importance, and practical strategies for scaffolding writing instruction in the classroom.

The Concept of Scaffolding

Scaffolding refers to the educational practice of providing guidance and support to students as they develop new skills, gradually reducing that support as they become more proficient. In the context of teaching writing to ELLs, scaffolding can help students build on their existing language skills while promoting independence in learning.

Importance of Scaffolding for ELLs

1. Reduces anxiety: Scaffolding reduces feelings of anxiety when faced with a seemingly difficult task by offering step-by-step guidance and feedback.

2. Boosts motivation: When students successfully complete various stages of a task, they feel more confident and motivated to tackle more complex tasks.

3. Encourages active learning: Scaffolded activities require ELLs to engage actively in the learning process, resulting in enhanced language development.

4. Supports differentiated instruction: The individualized nature of scaffolding makes it adaptable to suit different proficiency levels and learning styles among ELLs.

Strategies for Scaffolding Writing Instruction

1. Pre-writing support: Assist students in brainstorming ideas, creating outlines, or using graphic organizers to arrange their thoughts before starting the actual writing process.

2. Modeling: Provide model texts that demonstrate effective writing strategies or walk through examples to highlight particular goals.

3. Collaborative/group activities: Encourage students to work collaboratively on writing exercises, facilitating peer feedback and learning from one another.

4. Sentence starters or writing frames: Provide sentence starters or writing frames that students can build upon to draft their work. This helps them focus on specific language features and structural elements.

5. Feedback and revision: Regularly check students’ progress and provide constructive feedback on areas such as grammar, vocabulary, and coherence. Encourage revisions to develop their self-editing skills.

6. Gradual release of responsibility: As students become more proficient in their writing skills, slowly withdraw support while encouraging independent practice.


Scaffolding writing instruction for English-language learners is a powerful approach that fosters language development, promotes learner autonomy, and boosts confidence. By incorporating the strategies mentioned above, teachers can ensure that ELLs are well-equipped to excel in their writing endeavors, ultimately bridging the gap between language learning and academic success.

FREE Google Form: Communication Survey for ELL Families – Enhancing Communication and Collaboration


Effective communication is crucial in the education sector, especially for teachers and administration. It involves understanding the needs of students and parents from different backgrounds to ensure a supportive educational environment. With the increasing number of English Language Learners (ELL) families in schools, facilitating smooth communication becomes an essential aspect to bridge the gap between language barriers. One such innovative technology that can help schools achieve this goal is the FREE Google Form: Communication Survey for ELL families.

Understanding ELL Families:

English Language Learners are students whose first language is not English, and they often require assistance, resources, and support to become proficient in the English language. ELL families are those where one or both parents/guardians mainly speak a language other than English at home. Understanding their communication preferences and cultural aspects is important for effective collaboration between schools and families.

What Is The Google Form: Communication Survey For ELL Families?

The Google Form: Communication Survey for ELL families is a free, user-friendly tool designed to assist educators in gathering important information about communication preferences of ELL parents or guardians. This tool helps schools understand how best to communicate with these families by analyzing their preferences concerning language, mode of communication, translation services, and other culturally sensitive context.

Benefits of Using The Google Form: Communication Survey For ELL Families

1. Bridge The Language Barrier: This survey helps educators identify if an interpreter or translator is needed for meetings or written communications with ELL families.

2. Tailor Communication Strategies: By knowing the preferred mode of communication (such as phone calls, emails, or text messages) for each family, educators can develop personalized strategies that ensure efficient and effective collaboration.

3. Empower Families: By engaging ELL families with appropriate communication channels and translation services, schools empower them to participate actively in their children’s education.

4. Inclusivity: This survey promotes diversity and fosters a sense of inclusivity by acknowledging the different cultural backgrounds and linguistic needs of ELL families.

5. Easy Access: The Google Form is free, customizable, shareable, and can be accessed from any device with internet access, making it highly accessible for teachers, staff members, and parents alike.

How To Use The Google Form: Communication Survey For ELL Families

1. Create your own version of the Google Form by making a copy from the original template.

2. Customize the form’s questions and design as needed.

3. Share the form with your colleagues for any additional feedback or input.

4. Prepare a distribution list of ELL families in your school community.

5. Send the form via email or shareable link to ELL families.

6. Collect responses and analyze them to create tailored communication strategies for each family.

7. Update and review the Communication Survey periodically to ensure optimum communication efforts are maintained.


The FREE Google Form: Communication Survey for ELL Families is an invaluable resource in fostering understanding, empathy, and collaboration between schools and diverse communities. By recognizing their communication needs and providing appropriate language support, schools can help create an inclusive environment where every student has an equal opportunity to thrive.

7 Things English Language Learners Wish Their Teachers Knew

Learning a new language is an exciting, yet challenging endeavor. For English language learners (ELLs), the experience can be profoundly shaped by the approach and understanding of their teachers. Here are seven things ELLs wish their teachers knew to help them succeed in the classroom.

1. Patience is key – Learning a language takes time, and ELLs may struggle with grammar concepts or vocabulary words that native speakers take for granted. Teachers should remember to be patient with their students and offer ample opportunities for practice and reinforcement.

2. Encouragement makes a difference – Encouraging words from a teacher can have a significant impact on a student’s confidence and motivation. ELLs appreciate when their efforts are acknowledged, even if they don’t always get everything right.

3. Exposure to authentic language is crucial – ELLs benefit from listening to and engaging with native speakers using authentic language as much as possible. Integrating videos, podcasts, or guest speakers into lessons can help students improve their listening skills and pronunciation.

4. Group work fosters communication skills – ELLs need opportunities to practice speaking English in a supportive environment. Encouraging group activities can help students learn from each other, improving their communication skills and fostering a sense of belonging in the classroom.

5. Scaffolding helps build skills step-by-step – Teachers should provide materials and resources that cater to different proficiency levels within the class. Breaking down complex tasks into smaller steps helps ELLs build language skills at their own pace while avoiding unnecessary frustration.

6. The importance of cultural sensitivity – Recognizing and embracing cultural differences can support ELLs’ learning journey by making them feel valued and understood. Teachers should aim to incorporate diverse perspectives in lesson plans, classroom discussions, and projects.

7. Flexibility is essential – Teaching ELLs effectively requires flexibility in lesson planning, pacing, and assessment. Teachers should be willing to adjust their approach based on student needs and progress, offering extra support, guidance, or resources as needed.

Understanding these points can make all the difference for English language learners. By fostering an inclusive and supportive learning environment, teachers can help ELLs achieve success on their journey toward English proficiency.

EU project CATAPULT offers opportunities for Internationalisation, profiling and lifelong learning for LSP, L2, MFL and CLIL teachers

One of the results of the CATAPULT Project (Computer-Assisted Training And Platforms to Upskill Language for Specific Purposes (LSP) Teachers) is LinguaCoP, a Community of Practice platform.

With its resource bank, blogs and forum Linguacop supports knowledge development and practice sharing by language, LSP and CLIL teachers.

It also hosts ‘LinguaClick’  to support (freelance) LSP, but also L2 and MFL professionals to offer their services, also internationally. View this short presentation video to see what this online Community of Practice has to offer.

Furthermore the project also offers a free online course (MOOC, released on October 12, 2020) based on the project’s LSP competence framework.

It supports LSP teachers wanting to update their teaching skills and those language teachers interested in developing competences specific for LSP teaching. Watch this video to get a sneak peek at what course participants can expect.  Those interested can register here

For more details about these and other project developments see the online version of the latest Newsletter

Project website: Twitter: @ProjectCatapult

From Ton Koenraad on behalf of Catapult partner TELLConsult