Tim Blackburn

Tim spent the early years of his career as a high school ESL teacher and bilingual educator in the Bronx, New York. In his final position, "Mr. Tim" taught global history in English and Spanish at the International Community High School, one of New York City's 12 newcomer high schools. It was this experience that best helped him understand the true importance of integrating disciplinary language and content, especially through tasks designed to promote small group collaboration. He regards those years as the brightest in his career, and now that he is in Oregon, he continues to draw from those classroom lessons to inform how to support emergent bilingual students throughout the school day.

Since arriving in Oregon in 2012, Tim has worked as a teacher on special assignment in the Oregon Migrant Education Service Center, providing technical support to professionals working in migrant education throughout Oregon. He is also a founding member of the education equity unit at the Oregon Department of Education. In that role, he led initiatives such as Oregon’s transition to new language proficiency standards, as well as the development of the Oregon State Seal of Biliteracy.

At Education Northwest, Tim serves schools and school districts across the country in refining evidence-based programs and instructional practices for emergent bilingual students. He enjoys collaborating with others to develop program tools to support school and district leaders with their emergent bilingual students. He’s particularly passionate about designing standards-based curriculum, assessments and instruction—especially for newcomer students. Tim is a biliterate educator in Spanish and English.

My favorite sound is the hum of a busy classroom. I love engaging my students in compelling, relevant content, while exercising the academic language and analytical skills my students need for school success. At Education Northwest, I get to share this passion with my colleagues through professional learning.

Blog Posts

How a New Coaching Resource Can Help Schools Better Support Teachers of English Learner Students


April 23rd, 2019

With more English learners in American schools, it's important to equip teachers to make learning accessible for all students. A new tool for coaching teachers can help schools meet this challenge.

High Expectations and Support: Teaching Newcomer Students Language and Content Knowledge Through Intentional Planning Practice


October 30th, 2018

Building the academic vocabulary of English learner students while teaching math or history can be a heavy lift for teachers. Tim Blackburn writes about an approach a California high school is adopting.

Implementing ‘Language in the Air’: Key Ways a District Elevated English Learner Instruction


March 23rd, 2018

When your goal is to make expanded opportunities for English learners to practice language skills throughout the school day a reality, how do you go about it?

A Framework for Supporting English Learner Students’ Language Development


March 14th, 2018

This is the second in a three-part series on Ontario School District’s “language in the air” approach to creating opportunities for students learning English to practice language throughout the school day. Check out Part 1 and Part 3 to learn more about this project. From the beginning, our...

Language in the Air: How a District has Elevated English Learner Student Interaction


March 1st, 2018

English learners benefit when they have opportunities for language practice throughout the day. What does it take for schools to make this happen?

Violence in the News Underscores the Importance of Listening to Students


December 22nd, 2016

A few weeks ago, just after the tragedies in Baton Rouge and Dallas, I met informally with some colleagues. Each of us felt a confusing array of pain and numbness. I remember feeling especially unmoored by seemingly endless and totally senseless violence. I told my colleagues about a vulnerable moment I’d experienced recently—something that had really stuck with me in the wake of all the trauma.

A Powerful Invitation


September 28th, 2015

"In my classrooms, I have tried multiple approaches, and through much experimentation, I’m convinced that what really matters is giving my students get as many opportunities as possible to practice subject-specific academic language through focused conversations with their peers."