Letter From Conference ChairDear NYS TESOL Community:
I am very pleased to announce our first NYS TESOL virtual annual conference! This special event is happening during a year filled with many challenges and opportunities. As many of you know, this is our 50th anniversary and we were especially looking forward to the annual conference. Early in December, 2019 we had already lined up many keynote speakers and innovative conference presentation formats. So, you can only imagine how we felt when COVID-19 struck. We felt disappointed in not being able to host the conference we imagined and wanted. That initial fear, although real, quickly gave away to an enormous call for action.
The conference team decided that we should not stop, moving forward through these difficult times to create and stimulate opportunities to celebrate, learn and be together. We are, after all, teachers and researchers of immigrant and international students. As such, we know that hardship does not prevent us from experimenting, exploring, and fighting for excellent instructional practices and social justice. We are not afraid of adversity. We embrace it!
It is with this spirit that we designed the virtual NYS TESOL conference as a compassionate space, where love, teaching and learning come together. It is a place where you will be able to share, voice your opinions and pose questions, have coffee, tea and lunch with TESOL experts, honor past presidents and awardees, and toast our NYS TESOL community during a fun happy hour. We envision you joining sessions in the coziest ways by grabbing your mug, bringing your lunch and having a coffee - all while wearing your pajamas! I am sure this will be an unforgettable experience.
For all of these amazing opportunities to happen, I need to thank everyone involved. I would like to give a special thanks (obrigada!) to our president, Laura Baecher, for her relentless support and efforts to make our organization excellent. Laura never gives up and that is the strength we need when faced with adversity. I would also like to thank Monica Baker for her generous guidance, the NYS TESOL Executive Board for trusting us with our ambitious plans, and, above all, the annual conference team, without whom we could not have a conference.
My favorite teacher, Paulo Freire, taught me that education is the tool for transformation. Love is the basis of pedagogical praxis. At times of COVID-19, we need to unite in our compassion to advocate, support and celebrate our multilingual learners. Our students need us to be strong for them. I hope you can join us in this act of love!