Classrooms today are likely to have at least one English learner (EL) student. How do we ensure they are learning the same content as other students? How do we ensure that they are achieving to their full potential? This doesn’t get addressed with “just good teaching” but, instead, requires intentional actions and dedicated conviction to adapt curriculum, policies, and practices that move ELs toward college and career readiness.
Reflecting on our early teaching years, we sometimes think, “Wow, if we had known then what we know now.” With only best intentions, educators often simplified, cut, and redesigned the ELA and math curricula presented to ELs until it was almost unrecognizable in comparison to that which their native English-speaking peers experienced. While it sounds outrageous, these reductive strategies were implemented to protect the perceived vulnerability of ELs from tasks that we thought were too difficult. Now we know this is a huge disservice to ELs, and we must maintain high expectations and must engage ELs in the same grade-level content as their non-EL peers.