When immigrants bring their young children to the United States, they often hope for a wider range of opportunities where the child can get a great education and become successful in this country. This was true for my parents. My parents, like thousands of other immigrant parents, brought me to the US so that I can accomplish my dreams and get a solid education. In order for their wishes to come true, I was required to learn English to be able to access the material being taught to me in school and communicate with those around me.
Last school year, there were 1.195 million English Learners within California schools, which make up 19.3 percent of the entire student body, according to the California Department of Education. California has created programs targeting this subgroup of our student body including dual immersion programs, transitional programs, and structured English immersion, all with the intended outcome of students acquiring English proficiency and being able to access the same material as their native speaker peers.
Furthermore, California has also recently published the English Learner Roadmap, which outlines in greater detail the supports that educators should be implementing in order for English Learners to be able to achieve their academic goals. The Roadmap outlines four major principles “intended to guide all levels of the system towards a coherent and aligned set of practices, services, relationships, and approaches to teaching and learning that add up to a powerful, effective, twenty-first century education for all English learners,” according to the California Department of Education.
The four principles are as follows:
Principle One: This principle focuses on learner profiles for English Learners, school climate, family partnerships, and focusing on English Learners who also have a learning difference.
Principle Two: This principle focuses on making sure that our English Learners have access to rigorous, standards-based curriculum, and that the use of students’ home languages are seen and utilized as an added strength in instructional settings.
Principle Three: This principle focuses on systemic leadership being equipped to respond to the needs of English Learners and their communities and require data to be used in order to assess and inform instruction and continuous improvements.
Principle Four: This principle calls for strong alignment across grade levels and disciplines to ensure that students are provided a coherent experience that supports language development in order to prepare students to be competitive in their post secondary plans.
As an early career educator, I often wondered if I was implementing the correct supports for my English Learner students and would have loved to have these resources as guiding principles when doing my instructional planning and data analysis. The California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) has also published the Teacher Tool Kit for educators looking for a bank of resources and scaffolds that can be implemented in our classrooms and schools. While the demands facing teachers are plenty, we need to remember the responsibility trusted upon us when educating our English Learners and use this as inspiration to provide them with the rigorous, relevant education that they and all our students deserve.
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