Literature Reviewed for Leaders: English Language Learners at School

Literature Reviewed for Leaders: English Language Learners at School

The 411: English Language Learners at School, A Guide for Administrators. Else Hamayan and Rebecca Freeman Field, Caslon Publishing, Philadelphia, 2012.

My Tweet: 75 minds answer pressing questions schools face in teaching ELLs. “English Language Learners at School” has helped reshape our approach, working with emerging bilingual students. #thosekidsareOURKIDS

A Leader’s Take:  If you are leading a school serving a significant number of English language learners, this is a text you will want access too. While technical, it is driven by pressing questions we face in thinking through an instructional program that supports the predictable, yet unique needs of our growing ELL populations. Multiple expert voices provide input on pressing questions like: 1) How should we assess academic achievement of English language learners 2) What factors influence English language learners’ success at school? 3) What kinds of knowledge and skills to administrators need in order to implement an effective program for English language learners. I took the text on in chunks. I highlighted with intensity. Then I typed up the most powerful learnings and shared them with stakeholders. The research-based learnings have us thinking differently about supporting ELLs at our school.  While we are still working towards equitable outcomes for our ELLs, this reading, and the process we are going through, is a formative and critical process.

One Take-Away:  Perhaps the most profound takeaway from this book, for our learning community, is that we now see refer to our students as “emerging bilingual students” as opposed to “English language learners.”  The seismic shift recognizes students from a position of strength (gaining a SECOND language) rather than a position of deficit (still acquiring our language).  I believe that what we believe about students impacts everything. It is a powerful thing to recognize that our students are on the verge of gaining skills that will put them ahead of most people in life- and our students are only in elementary!  This is very different than (even subconsciously) thinking about students as underperforming language learners who might bring scores down. I choose the former! These experts and practitioners helped me get there.

Your Next Move: Write down the title. It well could be the primary resource help you design and articulate a plan for your site.

It Gets: 4 out of 5 apples.

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