A few weeks ago, I was blessed enough to present PD at one of the school about English Language Learners. This was our district response to guidance from the state based on a Federal Site visit to the Department of Education. Needless to say the information in the morning was very heavy in law and ELPs standards.
Towards the end of the morning, a teacher approached me and said, “No offense, I feel like an ELL this morning because I am not understanding what is going on and I am struggling to learn the content.” I took this as an opportunity. I asked for him to share his struggle in the morning. I asked how did it impact his learning and what did he feel as this was happening. He was honest about feeling fear and anxiety as everyone else seemed to understand. He talked about how at points he shut down and didn’t work. As a group, we talked how this same experience happens in our classrooms even if there are no identified ELLs.
I also took this moment to apologize. I did not take the time to get to know my learners or ask questions to understand the teachers I was working with. I also was not checking for understanding as we worked to ensure that all teachers had the knowledge required by the state. I also did not plan for differentiation.
What I learned:
- Know your learners. You should take the time to get know who you is learning with you.
- Plan informal checks for understanding. If you are not assessing and noticing during PD, how can we ensure that learning will transfer to the classroom?
- Create a safe space for learning. If we do not create a safe space for learning, then teachers cannot take risks and learn. I find my learning occurs when I challenge myself.
- Take a mistake and make it an opportunity. I could have ignored the comment and dismissed the situation. I took that as a moment to really get to heart of the matter-why every student matters.