Expanding my knowledge on both broader and more specific scales
This week, I mostly focused on doing some more research and thinking about the topic in light of the formation of our team and the new added focus on cross-/intercultural communication. I read Erin’s blogs (and was very impressed by her ability to articulate the importance of that topic) and I spoke with the director of UP for Learning, an organization that I work with pretty frequently. She told me about a site visit to Winooski High School that she participated in this week, and I was intrigued by her description of their ELL program. Specifically, she spoke of a presentation that all New American/ELL students give to the entire student body, often about their experiences. This closely resembles a part of the process that I’ve felt was essential to promoting mutual learning and understanding, but I didn’t know was already happening in VT high schools. She also said that some of the students giving the site visit tour didn’t know the ELL students whose classes they were visiting beforehand, even though some of them had been in the same situation years before, which raised some interesting questions: how important is it for New American and ELL students to interact with other students before they are proficient in English? In what ways is it beneficial for them to stay in contained classrooms with students whose experiences they can relate to and where the language barrier is better understood and accounted for, and how important is it for them to meet and learn from other students, some of whom may have had similar experiences to theirs in the past?
This conversation made me really want to speak to people (students, teachers, community members) from Winooski, and it also brought to me a resource (also from UP for Learning) about educational equity in general, which I liked because it broke down an ideally equitable educational community by stakeholder group: teachers, parents, etc. This in turn led me to another resource: the New England Secondary School Consortium’s Global Best Practices, with rubrics for self-assessment in different areas and instructions on how to self-evaluate. I initially looked at the “equity” rubric (page 8 of the document), but also stumbled across the “international and multicultural learning” scale (page 18), both of which I found interesting. The “equity” rubric has a lot more to do with measuring how people from different backgrounds are treated and the expectations of them, while the second rubric has a focus on appreciating, promoting and integrating cross-/intercultural learning, and even mentions ELL and immigrant students and families in particular, as well as pointing to the tendency in schools to place more value on Eurocentric learning and languages. Our topic really seems to be the intersection of these rubrics, so these could at least become valuable tools for comparing the practices in different Vermont schools.
Featured Image by Jacques Caffin