What are the Core Beliefs that Ground Your Work with Multilingual Learners?
The changing of seasons, along with the falling leaves and dropping temperatures, can be a time of personal contemplation. It can be a time to slow down and reflect on what is important to us. Similarly, with the hecticness of the start of school behind us, the end of the first quarter or trimester of school can also be a time to reflect on the beliefs and values that inform our day-to-day instruction and interactions with students.
At SupportEd, we have recently been examining the core beliefs that ground our work with multilingual learners (MLs) and educators of MLs and have been thinking about how our core beliefs have been transformed through this collaboration. In this article, we would like to share with you our revised core beliefs and highlight the ways our core beliefs have remained consistent as well as the ways they have evolved over the past few years.
SupportEd’s Core Beliefs
We first shared our core beliefs in our book,Unlocking English Learners’ Potential: Strategies for Making Content Accessible. We are very excited to share that a second edition of this book, titled Unlocking Multilingual Learners’ Potential: Strategies for Making Content Accessible, will be published in January 2024. As part of our revisions for the second edition, the SupportEd team took a closer look at our core beliefs and made some changes based on our ongoing work with schools and districts. Figure 1., Framework for Equitable & Excellent Multilingual Learner Education, identifies our five revised core beliefs. Take a minute to read these five core beliefs. What do you notice? What do you wonder?
Figure 1. Framework for Equitable & Excellent Multilingual Learner Education
How Have Our Core Beliefs Remained Consistent?
Before sharing how we reframed our core beliefs, we first want to highlight what has stayed consistent. We believe that fundamental to the education of MLs is the recognition of the many strengths and assets that they bring to classrooms, schools, and communities. In order to equitably educate MLs, we understand that it is essential to recognize, value, and build on MLs’ strengths during instruction. A school climate that supports equitable and excellent educational opportunities for MLs includes school-wide beliefs about the potential of MLs, interest in and appreciation for MLs’ culture, and the desire to foster positive relationships with MLs and their families. Additionally, we know that MLs benefit when educators are able to collaborate, advocate, and lead on their behalf.
What’s New About Our Core Beliefs?
1.) Integration of Language Development Opportunities into Content Instruction
While we have always recognized the importance of integrating instruction of language with academic content, our third core belief now emphasizes the need to be intentional in planning for meaningful language development opportunities within content instruction. Our wording speaks to the urgency for teachers to plan with language development goals in mind. We want language development to be a priority and not an afterthought. In our work with educators of MLs, we ask them to consider the language needed for students to meet their content learning goals and how they can build opportunities into instruction for MLs to practice and develop this language.
2.) Peer Learning Conversations
Our fourth core belief is brand new. We believe that opportunities for quality peer learning are so critical to MLs’ equitable and excellent education that we need to elevate peer learning’s importance as part of our work. Well-structured, scaffolded peer learning conversations foster MLs’ academic content learning, language growth, and engagement in their learning. Peer learning conversations also provide opportunities for students to hear and respond to ideas that are different from their own, which can help build empathy and understanding of others as well as foster peer relationship building.
3.) Social-Emotional Learning
A final addition to our core beliefs is the inclusion of strategies to support MLs’ social-emotional well-being. We believe that as educators of MLs, we must not only focus on academic and language growth, but we must also take thoughtful actions to help MLs develop their social– emotional learning (SEL). When students develop their SEL skills, they will have a greater sense of agency, be better equipped to learn and set goals for themselves, and be in a position to develop positive relationships with teachers and peers, adding to their sense of belonging at school. In addition, there is a correlation between culturally responsive SEL skill development and academic achievement for MLs, which cannot be overlooked.
Continue the Conversation and Share Your Thoughts
Now that we’ve shared a little about our core beliefs and how they inform our work with MLs and educators of MLs, we’d love to hear from you about your core beliefs that inform your work with MLs and their families. How are your core beliefs similar to ours? How are they different? Have you noticed a shift in your core beliefs over time? How do you apply these core beliefs to the work that you do each day? Let us know by tweeting with the hashtag #MyMLCoreBeliefs.
SupportEd is a woman-owned business based in Fairfax, Virginia providing Multilingual Learner (ML) professional development, personalized coaching, technical assistance, and resources for educators across the United States and Canada. Founded in 2011 by Dr. Diane Staehr Fenner, best-selling author and ML expert, SupportEd builds authentic partner relationships and meticulously crafts customized solutions to fit all partner’s strengths and goals. SupportEd equips teachers and administrators with the practical tools and strategies necessary to champion MLs’ success within and beyond the classroom. Visit SupportEd.com or call (202) 660-1444 to learn more.
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