How Teachers Meet the Needs of ELL Students

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  • 0:04 Beyond the Classroom
  • 0:33 Three Basic Areas
  • 4:13 Three-Part Strategy
  • 4:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

As an ELL teacher, you know that your role does not end with preparing and teaching lessons. Your role includes acting as an advocate on behalf of ELL students. This lesson gives you an overview of strategies to perform this role.

Beyond the Classroom

Tom is an ELL teacher, and his lessons clearly help his students' academic progress. However, Tom's work can go beyond the classroom. Tom can play an active role in meeting the needs of ELL students through advocacy outside the classroom. Advocacy simply means to speak on behalf of ELL students when they're affected by circumstances in which they have no input.

Let's see how any ELL teacher can work beyond the classroom to meet the needs of ELLs.

Three Basic Areas

ELL teachers can work outside the classroom to help their students by being involved in three key areas: policies and regulations, school assessment, and helping school leaders to create the best environment possible for ELLs.

Policies and Regulations

As the school year begins, Tom learns about a new regulation that the Department of Education wants schools to implement. The regulation is aimed at keeping ELLs who are significantly behind their peers in extra ELL sessions to improve their English skills. As the regulation gets implemented, Tom sees that ELLs feel exhausted on the days they have extra sessions and, thus, they're not benefiting. Tom wants to do something about this.

As citizens, we have the right to information about the background that leads federal or other government authorities to formulate specific policies and regulations. We can always request more information from the authorities, including how citizens can contest the laws in place.

In our example, Tom gets some answers from the Department of Education about the new policy and, based on what he knows, he speaks to his school supervisor about the lack of effectiveness of the new regulation. His school principal decides to meet with other teachers and involve parents to ask about their perception. Then, the school can write a policy memorandum to the Department of Education.

This case shows us that the strategy to use when we see an issue with governmental policies and regulations is to first inform ourselves of all the implications of the policy or regulation and then exercise our right as citizens to give input to the authorities who can change the policy or regulation.

Now let's consider the case of school policies. Each school can establish its own policies and procedures to define how the student population is educated. However, schools' policies and procedures must be in compliance with governmental policies and regulations. Any ELL teacher who notices that a school policy or procedure is not effective or affects equity (the right of all students to have the same opportunity to succeed academically) can use a simple three-step strategy:

  1. Learn all about the school policy or procedure by talking to the respective authorities at the school.
  2. Propose changes or modifications according to the procedure the school itself allows. Schools sometimes have a handbook or, at times, school supervisors can tell teachers how to proceed.
  3. Follow up on the proposal to ensure that it is addressed.

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