- Posted by Diane Staehr Fenner
- On August 18, 2022
- 0 Comments
As you prepare to welcome new students back to school, it is important to take a precious few moments to reflect on where you are and how far you have come in terms of ways to support multilingual learners’ (MLs’) equity. I recognize that there are so many competing needs and priorities as you envision the upcoming school year. In our “Planning for a New School Year Checklist,” we have outlined five areas that are crucial to MLs’ success in school. While there are many areas to consider, the five areas include:
Collaborating and/or co-teaching
Families and advocacy
In this article, I provide a brief rationale for each area included in the checklist, outlining its urgency for MLs. I also embed links to key resources so you can explore further. This article is the third in our back-to-school series to support MLs.
Please use the checklist to help you reflect on five areas that are crucial for MLs when planning for the new school year. You can use it to take the pulse of your classroom, school, or district. Think about each of the criteria and jot down your plans to address each.
1. Social-Emotional Support
Numerous studies have shown that integrating high-quality social-emotional learning (SEL) into instruction tends to result in positive gains for all students. In addition, school districts have shifted their priorities to include SEL as a key part of instruction. However, MLs’ unique backgrounds, including their cultures and languages, are not often considered in designing SEL instruction, especially prepackaged products that are one-size-fits-all. For that reason, it is important to reflect on how SEL must be adapted to be inclusive of MLs’ strengths and needs. Our checklist outlines determining MLs’ strengths and needs, establishing consistent instructional routines for MLs, and implementing culturally responsive and antiracist instruction for MLs as part of SEL instruction.
2. Formative Assessment
The past few years have unfortunately led to many disruptions in instruction for students in general. We know that consistent instruction and routines are especially crucial for MLs, including unique populations such as Students with Limited or Inconsistent Formal Education (SLIFE). We know that using well-designed formative assessment can increase validity in terms of providing data on what MLs know and can do. Some areas to consider and plan for include how you will assess MLs’ preparedness for instruction in new content, how to use formative assessment data to differentiate instruction for MLs, and how to use assessment data to determine certain MLs’ level of English language proficiency and where they might need more support.
3. Scaffolding Instruction
Recognizing that the pandemic impacted students’ learning in different ways, there is a greater need for targeted scaffolding to support MLs’ content learning and language development. We ask you to consider the three types of scaffolds adapted from the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA)’s categorization – instruction, materials and resources, and student grouping – to plan for how you and your colleagues will integrate appropriate scaffolding for MLs into your instruction and assessment in the upcoming year. When MLs have access to similar types of scaffolds across classes, they will benefit from consistency in these instructional routines.
4. Collaborating and/or Co-Teaching
When planning for a new school year, it is beneficial to MLs to have a roadmap for how to collaborate to leverage your and your colleagues’ expertise to ensure students benefit. Now — before instruction begins — is the time to ensure that co-planning and/or co-teaching have been given time and space so that they can be prioritized. Be thinking about the best ways to collaborate, co-plan, and/or co-teach. In addition, you may need to advocate with colleagues and administrators to elevate this area’s importance. In particular, you can plan the time you’ll need to collaborate, consider which tools you might use to support your collaboration, and give thought to which collaboration and/or co-teaching routines you might integrate.
5. Families and Advocacy
Although this area appears last on our checklist, it is most certainly woven throughout all the other areas. We must first determine what supports ML families need as the school year approaches by reaching out to families themselves for their input. In addition, educators should consider the importance of ensuring MLs’ schedules are designed in a way to provide them access to the instruction needed to be successful in the coming school year. All the while, we should be cognizant of the need to serve as advocates and allies for MLs and their families to ensure their strengths and needs are considered and addressed in the coming school year.
There is so much to consider as MLs return to school and colleagues prepare for a year in which there may still be unexpected twists and turns. Planning for these five areas will help you be more prepared to provide your MLs the support they need to start the school year off strong. Please let us know which area(s) you’re prioritizing this year by tagging us on Twitter at @SupportEduc. We wish you a wonderful beginning to the new year!
SupportEd, LLC is a woman-owned small business based in Fairfax, VA specializing in Multilingual Learners (MLs). Founded in 2011 by Dr. Diane Staehr Fenner, best-selling author and ML expert, SupportEd meticulously crafts customized solutions to fit each client’s strengths, needs, and provides teachers and administrators the practical tools necessary to champion MLs’ success within and beyond the classroom. All SupportEd team members have prior experience in the classroom which enables the SupportEd team to provide realistic, actionable solutions. Services include online and in-person immersive professional development workshops, easy-to-implement tools and resources, and an array of supporting services. Visit supported.com or call (202) 660-1444 to learn more.
|Earn 1 PD hour with our 100% online, self-paced course, Formative Assessment for English Learners. Plus: Receive a 10% discount for groups of 10 or more per district.|