Welcoming English Learners Back into the Classroom After Distance Learning
by Brianna Richard, on Sep 15, 2021 2:17:51 PM
Schools across the country have officially welcomed back students after a year and a half of distance learning. Classrooms are full, there is laughter in the hallways and things are beginning to feel back to normal. As teachers welcome back students, many are focusing on English Language Learners who may have had a difficult time during distance learning and pandemic life. Perhaps Social Emotional Learning and communication with parents will help welcome these students back.
Social Emotional Learning or SEL, is the practice of promoting child development and teaching skills like empathy, honesty, and self-regulation. SEL activities help to make students feel loved, safe and secure. These activities assist in easing anxiety from the pandemic and an unfamiliar classroom after so many months of learning at home. All students will benefit from SEL but English Language Learners will especially gain from the practice of SEL. (2018, T)
Studies show that English Learners or EL’s had a particularly difficult time during the pandemic. EL’s depend on social interaction and lots of practice speaking the English Language. Many EL’s were at home and cut off from interacting with peers. EL’s were less likely to have a home with stable internet and more likely to live in a home with working parents who couldn’t assist with school work. (de la Rosa, 2021)
Some districts, like Azusa Unified, are working to make up for lost time by adding language developmental classes to the school day. Other districts are using a special curriculum to teach both SEL and language acquisition. But what is something everyone can do?
One thing all classrooms are districts can do is to communicate with parents to make families feel welcome as they come back in person. Communication tools like Bloomz, make reaching out to parents simple, even if they speak another language at home. Bloomz has a translation feature so teachers and administrators can make sure all communication is accessible to parents. Teachers can send out simple updates to parents keeping them in the loop about SEL and welcoming students back to school.
As educators it is important to make all students feel welcome and wanted in the classroom. But our English Learners need special attention during this transitional time period. What are some ways you welcome students back? How have you implemented SEL in your classroom? Share a comment below!
- T. (2018, July 14). What Is Social-Emotional Learning And How Does It Affect Kids? Giving Compass.
- de la Rosa, S. (2021, August 25). SEL, extra interaction time crucial for EL success in return to classrooms. K-12 Dive.