Deer Park’s educators have met the challenges brought by the state’s recent move to an integrated co-teaching model of ENL instruction. More proficient learners are integrated into the mainstream classroom to be delivered language instruction with the support of two teachers, instead of one, while students who are newcomers still receive language services in the small group learning setting that best fits their needs.
Ashley Lovett, the first-grade ENL teacher at May Moore, said, “The change has been really helpful for a lot of the kids who are ‘expanding’. They’re right on the precipice of exiting the program, so instead of me pulling them out and taking them out of learning content and literacy in their classroom, I push in and give them that little bit of support that they need, which ends up benefiting them greatly. Conversely, the students who are at the ‘entering/emerging’ level, who need a little more support, will see me in their classroom, and then they’ll also come to me for a quieter environment and more explicit language instruction.”
“Our ENL teachers are able to adjust, pre-teach, or revisit and reinforce the concepts that are being taught to the entire class to help every student learn to their fullest potential,” said JQA Principal Christopher Molinelli.
Robert Frost ELA/ENL teacher Michelle Champlin said, “The most influential consequence that came from this shift was the way it changed my thinking. These students are not just my students – they are all of our students, and the responsibility to deliver language instruction is a team effort. Regardless of the seemingly ever-changing acronyms for my profession, one common theme has remained: We must be advocates for those who have not ‘found’ their voice yet in the English language.”
The state’s mandate to integrate content with the ENL program has continued to be rolled out in various positive ways.
“A primary focus of my class is vocabulary, which is needed in order to obtain the proper math skills,” said Frost math/ENL teacher Kevin Dluginski. “Not only is this vocabulary used in math class, but it can be transferred to any subject area and into their daily lives. My students are using the same material that the mainstream students are learning, just at a slower pace, with more visuals and hands-on materials to ensure the most success.”
Lovett noted last year’s Peace Pole project, a unit on peace and tolerance, and this past fall’s ENL field trip to Planting Fields Arboretum, which incorporated study of vocabulary, adjectives, grammar, speaking and listening.
“It’s shifting from let me just help you speak English, to let me help you speak English while also teaching you content at the same time, and promoting this global awareness for the kids,” Lovett said.
According to JFK ENL teacher Kimberly Essig, another main goals for the district’s ENL programs this year is to enhance parent involvement. Along with the ENL parent liaison committee and the Thursday night Parent Academy, a primary tool to achieve this is the new Propio phone service, which the district has made available to teachers, counselors and administration at every school. Staff can call a special number for the services of a live translator in approximately 80 different languages.
“Propio has been fantastic in removing language barriers when calling parents,” said Essig. “We are creating a community and making the parents feel welcome to come, instead of intimidated.”