Published on May 30, 2014
Teaching Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education NJTESOL/NJBE Spring Conference 2014 Judie Haynes
Goals of Our PCI: To better understand: • ELs with interrupted or limited formal education (SLIFE) • SLIFE experiencing trauma and stress • How these experiences can impact learning • Teaching strategies for meeting the needs of SLIFE
Definitions of SLIFE/SIFE • Students with limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFE) • Students who have low literacy in first language • ELs with “inadequate” formal education – Those students who have gone to school without interruptions but education was inadequate. •
Characteristics of SLIFE • Lack of English proficiency • Limited or no native language literacy • Limited formal education • Suffering from trauma, violence & stress • 3 or more years below grade level
Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education SLIFE can be divided into 3 groups. 1. Interrupted by civil war, natural disasters and other conditions that limit education. 2. Could not attend school (e.g., refugees, enter without educational experiences.) 3. Move from one community to another, sporadic education.
Violence, Trauma and Refugees • In home country refugees may experience war, genocide, torture, political persecution, the loss of loved ones, and forced child soldiering, which frequently prompt them to escape. • Often travel arduous lengths to arrive at Refugee Camp without food, water. • Traumatic events affect mental health of refugees. Mental Health in Refugee Camps and Settlements – Module2 Unite for Sight (2010) http://www.uniteforsight.org/refugee-health/module2
“An immigrant leaves his homeland to find greener grass. A refugee leaves his homeland because the grass is burning under his feet…” Barbara Law, More Than Just Surviving Handbook: ESL for Every Classroom Teacher
Social & Emotional Needs of SLIFE • stem from lack of experience in a formal school setting • academic difficulties in school • traumatic and unstable living conditions in their native countries and in the U.S. • SLIFE become disengaged with school and have behavioral issues in and outside of the classroom. • SLIFE leave school as a result.
Discuss Share a story of a student you have taught with limited or interrupted education who has suffered from civil war, strife or famine.
SLIFE Living in Poverty
Close to 66% of ELs in US come from families whose income is 200% below the poverty level 200% below poverty level Quality counts, 2009, p 15; Goldenberg & Coleman, 2010
Impact of Poverty • Poverty has an adverse effect on the academic achievement of children, especially during early childhood • Economic distress can cause long-term psychological and developmental distress. Yoshikawa (2011). Craig (2006)
Effect of Poverty Yoshikawa (2011) Lack of Resources Social Supports Wages Psych. distress Cognitive Stimulation $ for toys/books , etc Child Care Can Impact Cognitive Development
Typical development… Community-at- large and more Peer Group School Community Family Child
Development Disrupted… Disruption to relationships children would have formed Child
Carry Academic Language Learning Academic Language Literacy Framework Culturally Disrupted DUE TO TRAUMA Trauma is a subjective response to an objective event War Civil Strife Natural Disaster Poverty
Students from CULTURAL DISRUPTIONS struggle with: • Motivation • Learning without support • Sequential ordering • Following multi-step problems • Comparison/categorizati on skills • Cause and effect reasoning
Important Steps for Trauma-Sensitive Classes 1. An empathetic approach 2. Collaboratively working to ensure students feel –safe, –trusted and welcome The term trauma sensitive coined by Craig, 2008
Why is Empathy Important? • Children have had little control over their lives • A single or series of events has or is occurring that is totally out of their control or management
Role of Empathetic Educators Requires that we • Don’t punish students for behaviors they cannot control, including defiance • Use a sensitive, positive and responsive approach • Avoid over-care and too much sympathy
Gradual release of supports • Support children as they manage new activities • Continue to support them until they are able to do these activities on their own • Avoid compassion fatigue – teachers should not take on problems as their own
With a partner Discuss how your school provides (or does not provide) trauma sensitive classroom. Discuss your own experiences with compassion fatigue.
Routines and Practices Provide consistent routine experiences & practices Provide intentional instruction including: –sequencing, –following multiple steps, –understanding routines
Importance of Predictability • Implement predictable routines in small segments • Repeat them so students gain control over their learning environment.
Family Participation is Key Secure as much student and family information as possible to develop the type of trauma-sensitive classroom that is needed
Community-Based Support is Key • Engage school guidance and adjustment counselors, outreach workers, nurses, and other stakeholders with community-based service agencies
SLIFE Need Additional Academic Support SLIFE require: • more intensive English language instruction, • programs that have been specially tailored to meet their language, literacy, academic & emotional needs
Keys For SLIFE Success Challenging, theme based curriculum that includes: • Language modifications/scaffolding • ELLs’ life experiences, cultures, & oral language traditions • Routine activities • Collaborative learning • Pragmatic tasks that build academic language • Culturally & immediately relevant content • Literacy and numeracy development Decapua, A. & Marshall, H. (2011) Breaking New Ground: Teaching Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education in U.S. Secondary Schools
Challenging, Theme-Based Curriculum that Includes: • ELs’ life experiences, cultures, & oral language traditions • Predictable routines • Culturally & immediately relevant content • Literacy and numeracy development • Collaborative learning • Pragmatic tasks that build academic language • Positive emphasis on what students can do
Collectivist Cultures • SLIFE come from collectivist cultures and are pragmatic and oral in their traditions • Reading and writing are challenging to SLIFE as these are new activities for most of them • Individualist and academic orientation of US schools presents overwhelming culture clash (DeCapua & Marshall)
US Culture SLIFE Culture Individualist Collective Oriented toward the future Oriented to the present Dependent on the written word Dependent on oral language traditions Individualist v Collectivist Culture Decapua, A. & Marshall, H. (2011) Breaking New Ground: Teaching Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education in U.S. Secondary Schools
Implications for Educating SLIFE • Organize collaborative activities that include oral components • Create culturally relevant content to build confident students who value themselves as learners • Use information that is immediately relevant
Professional Development • Professional development is critical • Many teachers/administrators have not been trained to work with ELs who have limited or interrupted formal education.
Professional Development Areas • Working with SLIFE • Using an empathetic approach • Collaboratively working with students to ensure that they feel safe, trusted, and welcome • Designing and using consistent and routine policies and practices
Discussion: SLIFE in Schools In group, discuss how your school provides (or does not provide) services to SLIFE Discuss specific improvements that your school could make
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