How can educators better support linguistically diverse students and their families was a question hotly debated in the Touro University bilingual and multicultural education discussion boards by Touro University TESOL teacher candidates. The discussion boards focused on English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher praxis’, highlighting the targeted inclusion of asset-based approaches. As a professor leading the discussions, the topic sparked deep reflection, and a goal crystallized: to create and implement an impactful hands-on project. The discussion centered around shifting teaching paradigms towards more inclusive, dynamic practices empowering Multilingual Learners (ML). Teachers often enter their profession unprepared to draw on the strengths and assets that culturally and linguistically diverse students bring to school. (Elfers, 2013)
Out of the discussion boards grew a book chapter with a former teacher John Zurschmiede, post-degree completion: ACROSS BOUNDARIES: COMMUNITY ASSET MAPPING AND LINGUISTICALLY DIVERSE LEARNERS, in which John Zurschmiede, now a teacher at the Board of Education, at an International school, co-constructed not only a project but also meaning-making in a collaborative space bringing together different dimensions of teacher-learner in two different levels. Level 1: the faculty-teacher candidate, Level 2: The former teacher candidate – his Multilingual Learners. This was an interwoven process that created fertile spaces of intentional collaboration across boundaries resulting in a book chapter in “Supporting Student Success through Community Asset Mapping.”
I am deeply grateful for the collaboration with my former student John Zurschmiede which expanded my horizon as an educator and shifted my teaching paradigms. I experienced that funds of knowledge are not static as we are all life-long learners embedded in the tapestry of our communities, personal histories and experiences which we express through our unique linguistic landscapes.