In our last article we invited you to spend some time reflecting on the successes you had with your ELL students last year. As we gear up to start another school year, now is the time to use your creative juices to think more deeply and concretely about how you and your colleagues might further improve how ELL students are being served in your school.
Identifying a goal based on the needs of the educators and students in your school is an important first step. The next step is to develop a plan that details the specific steps to take and the resources needed to achieve the goal. In particular, what professional learning opportunities and resources do educators in your school need to make your goal a reality?
To help you in this effort we have created a tool to guide your thinking and planning. The sections of the tool should allow you to identify your goals, put together a list of your action steps, identify needed resources, and evaluate their progress throughout the school year. It is exceptionally important to not just think about your goals, but to get your ideas down on paper. Doing so will help to not only develop a more concrete plan, but will also encourage you to hold yourself accountable. Let's walk through the major components of this tool together.
Step 1: Identify a Professional Learning Goal
The first step is, of course, to identify your professional learning goal focusing on ELL students. Keep in mind that for any goals you set for yourself or your school you should always ensure that you set specific, measureable, attainable, and relevant goals. You will want to think about the needs of ELL students in your school and the knowledge or resource gaps that exist that get in the way of school staff meeting those needs.
Step 2: Develop a Plan of Action
The second step is to develop a plan of action that will allow you to attain your professional goal. You should think through specific tasks or action items that need to take place and consider what resources may be needed. Resources can include anything that will help you accomplish your goal including people, books, curricular tools, professional development opportunities, etc. Try not to get diverted wading through resources—identify a few key resources that are most relevant to your overarching goal and move on. You can always add more as needed. You will also need to identify who needs to be involved in the process, and set deadlines to help keep you on track.
Step 3: Documenting Progress toward the Goal
As you work to reach your goal, it will be important to regularly document the progress you make along the way. Doing so will allow you and others involved to celebrate small victories that occur along the way and to reevaluate the plan of action when progress has stalled. Throughout the process, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- Are we completing each action step? If not, why not?
- Are new action steps needed?
- Are new resources needed?
- Are we on track with our timeline?
Step 4: Evaluating Professional Learning Outcomes
An important final step is to evaluate whether or not you met your professional learning goal and to take stock of how your goal has impacted the ELL students in your school. As you consider what aspects of your goal you reached, you will want to provide concrete evidence. For example, what specifically changed as a result of this process? How do you know it changed? Are there artifacts or data you can point to? Have parents commented to you about changes they have seen? Have you observed changes in classrooms or professional conversations between teachers in your school? To conclude the process, think through next steps you would like to take.
Help Getting Started...
During the course of the year, we have had the opportunity to visit a number of Michigan schools and to talk with educators about their goals to enhance the education their ELL students are receiving. There have been several goal-setting patterns that have emerged across the state. Click on each goal to see resources and professional development opportunities that align with each goal!
Improve how we support refugee students (many of whom are ELLs) and their families
- Reaching Refugee Students: Regulations, Research and Resources MI Toolkit Article (great list of additional resources)
- Kent ISD Professional Development Series on Refugee Students
- Resource Books
- Books for PLCs or Book Clubs
Learn how to disentangle special educational needs from the process of English language acquisition
- Next month’s MI Toolkit article will be on this topic!
- “Meeting the Needs of ELLs with Disabilities: A Linguistically and Culturally Responsive Model” by Alfredo Artiles
- English Language Learners in Vermont: Distinguishing Language Difference from Disability – A Resource Guide (Keep in mind some information may be state specific)
- Resource Books:
- Special Education Considerations for English Language Learners by Else Hamayan et al.
Develop a plan to better involve the parents of ELLs at our school
- Connecting with Parents of ELLs (MI Toolkit Article)
- Promoting ELL Parental Involvement: Challenges in Contested Times by M. Beatriz Arias & Milagros Morillo-Campbell
- Research-based Options for Education Policymaking: English Language Learners and Parent Involvement by Walter Mathis.
- Resource Books
- Engaging the Families of ELLs: Ideas, Resources and Activities by Renee Rubin et al.
Promote collaboration between ESL and general education teachers
- Resource Books
- Collaboration and Co-Teaching: Strategies for English Learners by Andrea Honigsfeld & Maria G. Dove
Understand how to better use data to make decisions about ELL students
- WIDA ACCESS for ELLs Interpretive Guide for Score Reports
- WIDA RrI2 for ELLs Webinar and Resources
- MI Toolkit ELL Growth Plan
- MI Toolkit Be a Data Collector Tool
- Michigan Department of Education WIDA Data Analysis Workshop (More information coming Soon!)
Help Improve ELL Achievement Across Content Areas
- Stanford University’s Understanding Language Initiative for ELLs website, which includes teaching resources for ELA, Math, and Science.
- ”Making Content Instruction Accessible for English Language Learners” by Ana Hernández
- Colorin Colorado’s Content Instruction for ELLs website
- Resource Books
- Common Core for the Not-So-Common Learner by Maria G. Dove & Andrea Honigsfeld
- Helping English language Learners Meet the Common Core by Paul Boyd-Batstone
We look forward to continuing to hear from educators about their professional learning goals this coming school year!
Until the next issue,
Madeline Mavrogordato & Jennifer Paul