Instructional Goals of EL Education
The goal of our program is for our students to meet the academic achievement standards for grade promotion and to become proficient in social and academic English. English language learners receive strong programming toward increasing English language proficiency in all four modalities (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) and vocabulary development. Specific learning opportunities and assessments are designed around the MN English Language Development (ELD) standards. To this end, EL teachers work with their co-teaching partners and other staff in the building to unpack the ELD standards and create language objectives to coordinate with the content-specific objectives of the classroom.
Learning services for EL students are implemented through push-in assistance within classrooms, co-taught classes with an EL teacher and the classroom teacher, EL pull-out classes, tutoring with an education assistant, or a combination of activities. These service delivery models are further detailed below. Teachers working with EL students create both content-specific and language objectives as part of their alignment to MN standards in support of the language development of EL students. In all cases, EL students are full participants in their school and are not separated from general student body for more than 88 minutes in any given day. Additionally, they are fully able to participate in all co-curricular activities including but not limited to gifted programming, athletics, choir, band, theater as well as all the other school-sponsored clubs and activities. The focus of the program is to support and build proficiency in both social and academic English. At this time, it has not been practicable, given the diversity within the EL population and EL staffing priorities, to offer bilingual and native language programs in the district. However, EL teachers do search for resources in students’ home languages to aid their learning, as well as utilize a variety of iPad apps and translation features.
Each school also hosts parent engagement and parent orientation meetings throughout the year to inform parents about the English Learner program and to share strategies for helping their students at home. Translators are available for these events as well as parent-teacher conferences by contacting the school’s main office of the EL teacher. Additionally, teachers have access to a tele-language line for over-the-phone translation in communicating with parents.
The district also provides professional development related to the needs of English learners. EL teachers meet monthly to collaborate with each other. Additionally EL teachers and their partners in co-taught classrooms receive afterschool stipends and substitute release time for shared learning and collaboration. These teachers also attend specific EL content trainings through attendance at local conferences and trainers brought into the district. All EL teachers also serve as professional development supports for their buildings, modeling effective strategies, sharing best practices at faculty meetings, and designing workshops for scheduled professional development days.