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The School Improvement Specialists
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Tips from the Field: ELL Student Badges

Often the best way to look at a situation is to see it through the eyes of the people affected.  It is helpful to walk a mile in somebody’s shoes before offering advice.  When we think that way, it also helps create and maintain good working relationships.

Here is an example of applying this principle to a common circumstance in schools—students who don’t speak English.  We know how we feel when we can’t communicate effectively with our students.  It can be frustrating, but how about the students. Schools can appear big and intimidating to them.  Add to those feeling, the inability to ask for help and it can be pretty scary.

One small tip, that can have a positive impact, comes from Ms. Krauss, a classroom teacher at Della Lamb.  Della Lamb is a charter school in Kansas City, Missouri with a large numbers of English Language Learners from different countries all speaking different languages. They have a great track record.  

Ms. Krauss has 2 students who are brand new to the country. They speak not a word of English! So, for safety’s sake, she put a large name tag on each of them with their name and a comment that says, “I speak Somali.”  If they get separated or lost from the class, any adult can find a Somali translator and help get the child where they need to be.

School Improvement Specialist PJ Toburen commented, “This little act of prevention could prevent a child from being traumatized and builds a sense of safety that eventually affects learning.”  

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