Its interesting the number of times I get asked the question "What is the magic student to teacher ratio for English Language Learner programming?" The mindset is typically..."If only I can add EL staff to my building; the better our ELLs will perform." While naturally I agree on adding more specialized staff to a program, its not the only way to reach our multilingual learners.
The larger conversation in this is building capacity within a infrastructure of teachers. Think systemically to ensure all teachers have the skills and tools they need to work with language development and the best practices possible. My favorite conversation pieces are those that involve rethinking systems. I often ask the question "how do you define integrated and dedicated English Language Development [ELD] within your district?" I have had more questions than answers that result from that prompt. So what suggestions do I typically make? Here are a few prompts that get you thinking about restructure to your ELD programming and ones that help teams develop systemic practices to reach culturally and linguistically diverse populations.
- What are current and Systemic Processes used throughout programming specific to culturally and linguistically diverse students?
- What are Procedures Human Resources enlists to recruit and retain both ELD staff and core content teachers of culturally and linguistically diverse students?
- What Research Based practices are the expectation of all instruction?
- What is the overall and detailed expectation of ELD Programs in relation to the students that represent English Language Learning population? [Remember language is not one size fits all!]
- How does Collaborative Leadership play a role with both EL staff and core content staff?How are collaborations maintained and supported?
- How are Fiscal Resources being returned to the population that generates them? How are creative resources being shared throughout a district to build capacity?
- What are the efforts and systems in place for Family and Community Partnering? Are they effective? (Parent/Community Involvement)
- What is the process for Ongoing Evaluation of ELD Program? Beyond the program, how are core content and ELD staff evaluated on working with ELs?
- Have silos been broken between departments within a district? Are Teaching and Learning Organizational Culture and student programs working in tandem?
Naturally, there are many more in depth pieces that go into quality programming. It takes a systems of stakeholders to create a dynamic setting for each and every learner. Consider what steps and refinements your system needs to be successful.
Dr. Martina Wagner | Wagner Educational Consulting | www.wagneredconsulting.com