Elementary and secondary school leaders, English as a Second Language (ESL), special education, and Response to Intervention (RTI) teachers worked with Manya Boutenoff, Ed.D. from Better Outcomes (Former Director of the Regional Bilingual Educational Resource Network (RBERN) to participate in a workshop focused on creating inviting learning environments for students who are English Language Learners (ELL). We identified situations unique to ELLs, developed ideas and strategies for addressing some of these, took a learning walk to identify ways to improve the environment, and analyzed a lesson to determine which teaching practices are most effective for learning.
We discussed the unique challenges our ELL students grapple with, including having limited access to technology for completing online HW. We experienced a lesson taught in Russian about the solar system to have a better sense of what it’s like to learn content in another language. We identified strategies to implement in our schools and classrooms to make our ELL students feel more welcome and comfortable as they learn English, including how students are grouped in and out of the classroom. We also developed strategies for providing better access to curriculum and content for all students, and reviewed research that demonstrated how former ESL students can often outperform their English only speaking peers on standardized English assessments. Finally, we delved into how to provide students with appropriate opportunities to speak in their native language while learning a new language to help them better learn English.