by Sydney Snyder | March 1, 2017
In last month’s newsletter we provided an overview of SupportEd’s Five Guiding Principles and focused on the first principle. Here we take a closer look at Principle #2: ELs learn best when they are taught in a welcoming and supportive school climate.
A school culture that supports equitable and excellent educational opportunities for ELs includes school-wide beliefs about the potential of ELs, interest in and appreciation for ELs’ culture, and the desire to foster positive relationships with the families of ELs. At SupportEd we encourage educators to reflect on what they are already doing to create a welcoming environment for ELs and to build collaborative relationships with the families of ELs. We also challenge educators to think about what they could be doing better. On the SupportEd website we provide a Creating a Welcoming Environment Checklist that you could use at your school to set some goals for strengthening the school climate towards ELs.
Tips for Building a Supportive School Climate for ELs
Here are a few strategies for you to try out this month:
- Learn how to greet your students in their home languages. Try greeting your students and their families.
- Look for multicultural resources on a topic that you will be teaching in your class. You could include bilingual resources or materials that highlight the achievements or perspectives of individuals from the home cultures of your students. Try collaborating with your school librarian.
- Develop a homework activity that allows students to draw on their cultural backgrounds and share information about people and things that matter to them. You might even encourage students to complete the assignment using their home language. Then display the students’ work in the classroom or hall.
- Invite EL parents or family members into the school to share something about themselves or their culture. Put together a list of the types of ways they might contribute (e.g., describe one aspect of their home country, read or tell a story from their culture, describe differences they have noticed between their home culture and U.S. culture). Remember some family members might not feel confident speaking in English, so you may need an interpreter.