In Tulsa Public Schools, English Learners (ELs) make up one-third of the student population and that number continues to grow. Our goal is to empower all of these students to be successful in rigorous coursework and have enriched academic opportunities that put them on track for success in college, career, and life.
The district’s English Language Development (ELD) instructors took part in a two-day training session in October to learn six principles that will help them effectively teach English Learners.
“This training is good,” said Kelly Will, an ELD teacher at Unity Learning Academy. “This is very meaty: how to teach ELs, what we need to do in the classroom, how to support our classroom teachers, what needs to be expected of the students, and that it can be expected of the students and expected as us as well.”
The training grouped the six principles into three focus areas: opportunities to learn, asset orientation, and developing autonomy.
Opportunities to learn refers to instruction that allows students to develop language and core subject knowledge simultaneously.
“Right now, I’m teaching them English because I have newcomers that I work with that I pull out into a small group. We’re just working on language, speaking it, and letter sounds. After this, I’m going to do a little bit more content that they should be learning in the classroom. Integration with the language,” said Kelly.
“We are learning lots of new ways to scaffold to build up a learner and be inclusive to our English language learners,” said ELD coordinator Katie Johnson. “I’m excited to bring that back to our teachers at Springdale.”
Asset orientation is using a student’s home language and culture to help bridge the gap between prior knowledge and new knowledge, so it is more easily understood.
“I’m going to start implementing to allow my students to write in their native language,” said Fato Hassani, an ELD teacher for McKinley and Mitchell Elementary Schools. “Especially some of my students who speak nothing but Spanish, it would be a good way to have them write more and talk more.”
Instruction that develops autonomy gives students the skills they will need to continue to learn and excel when they are in class without the direct support of the ELD instructor. These principles help foster student independence in their education.
The teachers who attended the training were engaged and excited to learn these strategies that will help their students be successful.
“My kids are amazing, and they are very unique,” said Katie. “I think they’re all very special.”
“They’re just very resilient. They are trying their best,” said Fato. “They have great aspirations. They want to be doctors, lawyers, and CEOs.”
“I love the kids. I’m happy every day,” said Kelly.
To learn more about the Language and Cultural Services offered in Tulsa Public Schools, please click here.