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Photo by Mikey. Under CC by 2.0 licence.

Back in the summer of 2015, I started working for LISTN, an organization that supported LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) instructors in British Columbia. It was a short-term contract that involved finding ways of helping these teachers by finding and creating resources and providing face-to-face and online consultation and training. It was at this time that I had the idea of creating a Twitter chat for LINC instructors as a way of connecting teachers from all over Canada, especially those who work in areas with limited access to resources and training. I wanted it to be an online ‘staff room’ where teachers could come and meet another and share ideas and challenges in a safe, supportive environment.

I started putting the idea of #LINCchat together, but I knew I would need some help in getting this off the ground. It didn’t take me very long to come up with someone I knew who would be perfect for the task, Svetlana Lupasco. I met Svetlana in person in October 2013 at a conference, but we already had crossed paths on Twitter. She was teaching in a LINC program and was not afraid of a challenge, so I sent her a message, hoping she would join me on this journey. It didn’t take long to hear back with an enthusiastic, “Yes!”

In September 2015, we held our first chat with a handful of people, more than I actually expected to join. Little by little, the chat grew as more and more people joined us for our bi-weekly chats. LISTN eventually closed up for good, but the chat continued. I joined the board of BC TEAL as Social Media Chair and the chat was moved under the umbrella of the association. I taught a few LINC classes over that time, but eventually I moved into a regular faculty position at my college and started teaching in the evenings. That meant there would be a scheduling conflict with #LINCchat, so I turned to some of the regulars on the chat to help take over as co-moderators. Svetlana would continue, of course, but others would rotate through as co-moderators. Bit by bit, those four individuals have built #LINCchat into what it is now. Today, I want to celebrate those four special people on International Women’s Day. I’ve learned so much from these four women who have taken the lead in supporting their fellow LINC instructors through this project.

Svetlana Lupasco is a kind, smart, soft-spoken person who goes above and beyond for her students and colleagues. I can’t thank her enough for what she has done for me and for her teaching community. She looks after her family while managing to find time to study, do her job, and run things like #LINCchat. I don’t know how she does it all.

Bonnie Jean Nicholas is a strong leader and advocate and is someone you want on your side. She is also incredibly kind and generous with her time, probably more than she should at times. She is very well respected in the ELT community in Canada for her work in the LINC community. She also is an excellent presenter who not only knows what she is talking about, but is able to communicate it in a way that puts people at ease.

Jennifer Chow is a lot of fun to be around. She is so easy to work with and is such a hard worker. I am always impressed by her willingness to step out and do something that is outside of her comfort zone. She sees these times as an opportunity to grow and learn and also a time to help others. She is kind, smart, and compassionate which I suspect her students really appreciate.

Augusta Avram is someone I have enjoyed getting to know over the years. I first met Augusta at a series of training sessions I was giving on using technology in the classroom. I was so impressed at how quickly Augusta moved from being someone who didn’t feel that comfortable with technology to being a leader in this area in our community. It’s her tenacity, intelligence, and drive that helped her overcome these obstacles and it is her passion to help others that makes her a valuable member of our community. She is such a good person to be around.

I am so blessed to be led by these four smart and powerful women. May I suggest you get to know them as well.

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