BAP081 Teaching ELs Online with Drew Courtney and Michelle Shory

Connections!  This episode offers us some practical tips and amazing inspiration from Michelle Shory and Drew Courtney.

Michelle and Drew are ESL instructional coaches from Louisville, KY.  We get to hear about how they are supporting teachers and I do my best to convince them to start their own podcast.  (It would be great!)

A good part of this show is about how they went about teaching summer school this year.  You’ll hear their lessons learned and great tips for connecting with ELs even when they face challenges like tech issues and serving students who hold jobs.  You’ll be inspired and will likely have some tangible take aways to implement tomorrow after you listen!  Find the show on your favorite podcast app or listen right here:

Listen to “BAP081 ELs Online with Shory and Courtney” on Spreaker.

In this episode, Drew & Michelle emphasize how well they together.  I’m grateful for their example and it makes me reflect on the opportunities we have to collaborate with others not only in our physical spaces but also in our PLN. In fact, that is how I met these two.  We follow each other on twitter and we’d love to connect with you.  You can find us here:  @MichelleShory,  @MrCourtney_ESL & @MsSalvaC

During the show, I mentioned this post by Drew as something I use in my workshops:

Here are slides I use to show teachers how we can also annotate objectives online. Modeling this technique and explaining the research by John Hattie (Teacher Clarity and Clear Goals have significant effects on learning) is just one example of how we can partner with teachers to see a strategy that will boost learning for all students.

In this podcast show, Michelle references a great book by Zaretta Hammond: Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain.  We read this one in the #ELLChat_BkClub group and it is amazing!

Michelle also offers us a great tip from Dave Stuart Jr. when he was on the Cult of Pedagogy podcast.  Here is that episode about creating moments of genuine connection online with students.  The tip is about using waiting rooms to admit only 1 or 2 students early to have an authentic conversation.  What a great idea!

Along these same lines, we talked about this tweet by the amazing Esther Park.

I was so inspired by the vulnerability Drew and Michelle showed as they engaged the students with projects, conversations and even a guest speaker to address racism and events happening in Louisville.  They also studied and had a Google Meet with Emily Francis who I mention often on this show.  We talked about the authentic connection the students had with Emily after they listened to her new podcast.

My students studied Emily as well.  We used blog posts she shares about her journey to the US from Guatemala.  All of your immigrant students should at least know about Emily. And I recommend you follow this amazing high school teacher who shares so much.

A few other things mentioned were:

Talking Points – they used this to send individual messages to students as it translates for you. (They have since moved to a district vendor)

RemindLarry Ferlazzo wrote about using this app to reach out to students individually.  He writes about the significant difference it is making when he reaches out to a few each day.

The show is packed with more insight and you can also get a great deal more from Michelle if you check out her ELL2.0 website.  She and & Dr. Irina McGrath offer so much support there:

Also check out their VirtuEL session that offers tons of practical advice for working with ELs in distance learning.

I’m so excited that Drew and Michelle are considering starting a podcast.  If you do follow them, be sure to ask them about it. 🙂

Thank you for taking time to check out these notes and I hope you had a chance to listen to the show.  I appreciate Michelle and Drew so much.  And as always, I appreciate YOU for stopping by.

Take good care,


PS:  Reach out if I can support you with ESL training.  I’m excited to be working with districts and school boards across the US and Canada to offer innovative ways to deliver professional learning.   Flexible hours after school, on weekends and through book studies are some examples of how we can support you.

Also check out the UPCOMING EVENTS page!  I hope to connect with you soon.

BAP080 Bravery with Michelle Van Balkom

We  can learn so much from professionals taking risks with technology, even when the technology fails.

Michelle Van Balkom is my guest on this episode. You can listen right here or in your favorite podcast app.

Listen to “BAP080 Bravery with Michelle Van Balkom” on Spreaker.

Michelle is the ELL Program Consultant in the Burnaby School District in British Columbia, Canada.  She has 20  years of teaching experience and is a fierce member of my PLN!  You may recognize her from our Saturday morning LIVE #BELIEVE_Cafe shows on VoicEdRadio.  In this show, Michelle helps us see that while we are all feeling vulnerable in a new reality of online teaching, we can reap benefits from the risks we are taking.

You’ll hear us refer to the VirtuEL Conference in this episode.  Michelle was a presenter and that conference happened a few weeks back in July.  You can still ‘attend” all the sessions as they are all free and have a focus on supporting ELs in Distance Learning.  Find those here:

You’ll hear us talk about Michelle’s VirtuEL Session “Raising Their Voices.”  Here is a direct link to that session.

I’m so glad Michelle agreed to be a speaker at VirtuEL.  We are so  grateful to all of our presenters and I’m extra  inspired that  Michelle took a risk to do her session LIVE.   In this podcast we talk about how her technology failed and she had  to re-record  her session.  As you can see, her session is still right in the lineup with all the other sessions.   It has had  so many  views that I cant even imagine how many students are benefitting from the fact that she shared some ideas.

That thread runs through this show.   So many of us are having to be brave and vulnerable right now with technology.  It is not comfortable, but there can be many benefits to us when we lean in to the learning that comes with risk taking.

Michelle and I both wanted to mention  Dorina Sackman Ebuwa and her  #BELIEVE_Cafe series.   Michelle was surprisingly calm on the day  of  the conference and  she attributes that to the  growth she has experienced thanks to Dorina’s free YouTube series on Transformative Emotional Intelligence.

I can’t recommend it enough  in these difficult times.   Her playlist begins with this video:

As we discuss these “technology fails” (that ended up being big wins), I told Michelle about this VirtuEL session by Bret Gosselin.  Bret was a great presenter on our first VirtuEL conference but his sound didn’t work.  He felt pretty defeated back then but just like Michelle, he re-recorded and now this video has almost 700 views.  Imagine the impact!

or what about the effect of this #MADPD session by Jennifer Hunter Dillon? It has almost 200 views and Jennifer recently wrote about the experience for a book we are publishing soon.  Jennifer talked about how scared she was leading up to this virtual conference, and how disappointed she was when her technology didn’t work.   But just like the other stories above, Jennifer simply re-recorded and now there are so many teachers and students who are benefitting from this session.  Jennifer also reports that she grew her network and her own pedagogy because of the experience.

When we are teaching students, we may not be able to just re-record a lesson.  BUT!  We can still model vulnerability the way these educators did.  We can be honest with our students and let them know that we are all learning.  We can look beyond needing a perfect activity and focus on helping students, and ourselves, grow as learners.  The right mindset and the belief that we can all improve.

I ended the show with the first 5 minutes of this VirtuEL 2017 Keynote address by Nancy Motley.  Nancy is the author of Talk, Read, Talk, Write and at the top of her game.  Her words in the first 5 minutes of this keynote should resonate with anyone going through the uncomfortable “FFT’s” (*&%$ First Times) we hear Brene Brown talk about in her work on vulnerability.

Huge  thanks to Michelle and all of the folks in these videos. They help us see the power we can harness and what we can model for students as we step out of our comfort zones.

Thank you SO much for listening.

Take good care,