Education Specialist, Illinois Resource Center, Chicago

Translanguaging became an integral part of my professional development work years ago when a district asked some colleagues and me to help generate bilingual standards-based exemplar units. It seemed the original idea was to create units in English that were deliberately attentive to English learners, and similarly themed, equally thoughtful units for instruction in Spanish. As we clarified the task, I became concerned that in a large district with over 100 languages spoken, this approach would yield units that would be useful only in specific instances in certain bilingual classrooms. I also became very aware that the undertaking we were considering was not really to generate "bilingual units" but rather, pairs of comparable monolingual units in two languages.

The challenge became how to create units that could be used flexibly to serve bilingual students in any of the programs in which they might find themselves placed. I wanted the work to be useful for teachers of any language background, serving students of any language community, in any variation of the available dual language bilingual education, ESL, or general education programs. I wanted to create tools to help teachers affirm and be responsive to "bilingualness" in their curriculum, and to create exemplars that would help reveal what it looks like when bilingual perspectives are baked into the design decisions of a unit.

At this point, a big part of the challenge became more obvious: How could we create standards-based bilingual units when all of the standards were monolingually oriented? Though we could transadapt content standards intended for instruction in English to languages other than English, and though we had language development standards in both English and Spanish, using these standards side by side to guide the curriculum would still mirror a conceptualization of bilingualism as a set of parallel monolingualisms. We had no standards to work with that were intrinsically bilingual.

So we asked teachers: What are the unique skills and understandings that bilingual students can develop that other students do not necessarily have the opportunity, pressure, or need to develop? What are the awarenesses and knowledge that bilingual students have that are typically ignored, undervalued, or misunderstood in the existing curriculum? What are theunique expectations we have for bilingual students that do not necessarily apply to other students?

We gathered and sorted the responses together in a huge affinity mapping process. We discussed, clarified, debated, noticed trends, explored perspectives, and eventually identified what we agreed reflected our expectations for bilingual students. Translanguaging, along with multilingual, multicultural and sociolingüístic awareness, and the expansion of the repertoire were identified as expectations. I eventually named these expectations "Learning In-between Languages And Cultures," or LILAC for short, and this is what we used in lieu of any formal bilingual standards (for what are standards, but expectations?) to guide our unit planning, and to keep it grounded in bilingualness.

The LILAC schema reflects a combination of what the teachers thought was uniquely important for bilingual students in the curriculum, acknowledging both the expectation to navigate and study language as a discipline (an externally named system) and protecting space to engage in what I learned to call bilingual ways of knowing and the natural language practices of the students (taking the perspective of the users of language). As I have continued to refine the idea of LILAC, I've found it has served as an invitation for teachers to recognize the translanguaging corriente all around them, make connections with their bilingual students, and see the implications for teaching. Naming the expectations and literally making space for these at the standards level on the unit templates helped teachers to claim space in the design process to be deliberately thoughtful about bilingual ways of knowing and to anticipate the kinds of shifts this implied for practice. For many teachers, the shifts were not exactly new—they had been instinctively using translanguaging with their students as part of their practice, for example in the form of an impromptu mini-lesson, or a sidebar conversation, but often feeling that this had to be informal, or even un acto clandestino, because it represented a deviation from the established language allocation. What was new was having these practices and this understanding of bilingualness overtly validated in the written curriculum.

I began to see how translanguaging could be integrated throughout my work. In an ongoing "Biliteracy Saturday" series with a local high school district, we got teachers from the newly formed School for Biliteracy together with colleagues from across the rest of the district to investigate how each and any of them could have a role in creating a multilingual ecology and supporting students' bilingualism. Teachers who identified as monolingual English speakers and those who spoke languages different from those of their students, along with teachers directly involved in the School for Biliteracy, all explored their pivotal encuentros with languages through storytelling and poetry. As we debriefed the work, we realized the deep worth of exploring identity, our own lenses, and our lived experiences (often considered extraneous to the curriculum), and how this, for bilingual people or when exploring bilingual moments, was fairly impossible to do without translan-guaging. We later expanded this work through community writing with students, families, and teachers together and further recognized the potential of conversation about and practice of translanguaging to begin to dissolve some of the boundaries that divide our school communities.

Similar reflections emerged in another school where I helped the faculty undertake a study of translanguaging as a way to open up professional dialogue across the several programs in their building. Teachers undertook self-guided exploration of online resources (like the CUNY-NYSIEB website), observed translanguaging in their community, and reflected on the implications for practice. The school's bilingual coordinator facilitated discussion to complement this work with teachers and simultaneously engaged parents from the school's many language communities in reading and analyzing translanguaging in picture books. In this case, investigating translanguaging catalyzed connections across groups, and created fertile ground for a more coherent vision around the school as a multilingual ecology.

I have found that the translanguaging conversation allows us to use language as an entry point to talk about all of these things that are so interconnected and fundamental to teaching and learning and human being (as a verb, to borrow the idea from Carla Shalaby). The translanguaging stance embraces the same fundamental principles that I value as an educator.

To open up dialogue about translanguaging and help teachers to create spaces for translanguaging in their classrooms I have a growing collection of infographics that can be found on my blog site: infographics/infographics-translanguaging/[], I also can be followed on my Twitter account @MaestraOlivia

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