Support in planning and implementing school-wide efforts to address needs of ELs and families
We aim to improve the school environment for ELs by supporting and coaching school leaders to make school-wide changes.
The school leader component of our model aims to build strong cadres of school leaders who not only will develop deep understandings of the needs of ELs, but will also use this knowledge to initiate school-wide changes to encourage ALL faculty, staff and students to recognize the assets ELs contribute to the school and its classrooms. With this, they also support new instructional strategies their teachers are learning to implement through their own professional development, thus improving ELs’ academic performance.
Each participating school has a “Leadership Team” comprised of a principal or assistant principal, a school-community liaison, an ESL-certified instructional leader, and a student support specialist.
Leads goal setting related to school structure and policies
Lead goal setting related to instructional practices for ELs
Lead goal setting related to family engagement
Lead goal setting related to school climate and culture
School Leadership Institutes provide professional development to the Leadership Teams of each participating school. Their two-year professional development program coincides with the teachers’ professional development program and parent involvement initiatives (see below) and consists of:
- A series of workshops designed to increase/deepen their understanding of the experiences, needs, and contributions of ALL students in multilingual/multicultural school environments
- A comprehensive, interactive school-wide needs assessment and action planning tools
- On-going leadership coaching and change management support
Through the series of workshops with experts in teaching ELs, the school leaders are provided background knowledge on topics such as characteristics of ELs and their families, legal and ethical obligations in the education of ELs and their English dominant peers, learning needs unique to ELs, and learning opportunities afforded by a multicultural/multilingual student body (and staff). In addition to conceptual information, these workshops will include skill-building activities on topics such as data-driven decision making, assessment, and monitoring of ELs, designing and managing collaborations with families and parent leaders, and supporting teachers as they implement newly-learned strategies, particularly those related to language and literacy development across the content areas.
With the help of a coach, the leadership teams conduct a needs assessment of their school’s policies, practices, and programming using the Transforming School LIFE for ELs online tool. Consisting of 39 customized school improvement targets goals  , the tool is structured as a rubric and includes examples and research briefs to guide evaluation and improvement activities. After their assessment, teams meet and select target goals. Upon reaching those goals, the leadership teams reassess and shift attention and planning to other areas of need. These customized improvement targets are categorized into four main categories: School Climate & Culture, Parent Involvement, Instructional Practices & Processes for Identifying & Monitoring ELs
The school environment reflects and honors the diversity of the community it serves. All school personnel – instructional and non-instructional staff alike – who come into contact with English learners have developed the understanding and skills needed to create a safe and welcoming school environment.
All English learners have access to comprehensible, grade-level, standards-based instruction in all content areas. School leaders promote a culture of collaboration, where professional development on effective teaching of ELs is comprehensively planned, focused, and ongoing. The instructional program design and implementation for ELs is grounded in research on best practices for educating ELs as well as on data on each school’s particular EL student population.
The process(es) for identifying and monitoring academic success and (English) language development of ELs is transparent and standardized. All staff, not just ESL-trained and certified teachers, are knowledgeable about EL identification and assessment.
Schools proactively support the acclimation of newcomers and families. Parents of ELs are well integrated into the school community because schools maintain consistent and accessible communication with families about their children’s academic progress as well as about ways to support their children’s academic success outside of school.