Equity & Remote Learning
Creating Access, Connectivity and Support for English Learners
In the best of times, English learners can find themselves to be one to two years behind their peers. Add in learning loss due to the pandemic, and instructional time for ELs becomes even more critical.
- By Alejandra Estrada-Burt
under the best of circumstances, remote learning can be challenging.
For English learners (ELs), this challenge is compounded by
linguistic barriers, lack of access and socioeconomic stressors.
ensure learning gaps aren’t being exacerbated during the pandemic,
it’s crucial that educators consider how to create access,
connectivity and family supports for English learners.
are steps that can be taken to address these priorities at the
district and classroom levels.
at the District
district leaders need to evaluate the systems and processes in place
to ensure EL families are adequately supported. I recommend forming a
support team that’s available to address linguistic barriers that
may exist for students and families.
each school site’s language demographics and create an action plan
for distributing multilingual materials to students and families.
Ensure that multilingual versions of district- and school-wide
communications are available and accessible.
create a strategy for supporting multilingual families
It’s crucial that we bridge the technology gap and help our
families navigate the various technology platforms, tools and skills
needed for remote learning.
Colorado created a distance
specific to EL students and families. Here are some helpful tips for
ensuring connectivity and tech support:
Offering hot spots, including on
buses that travel to neighborhoods where internet access is an
Providing free WiFi at school sites
or partnering with community institutions, such as libraries, so
that internet can be accessed from the parking lot.
at the Classroom
realize the importance of strong relationships. Building and
maintaining school-home relationships is even more important when
students are learning remotely.
and behavioral (SEB) support is especially important for ELs, who may
be experiencing time away from school differently than their peers.
SEB captures the importance of social-emotional learning (SEL) and
behavioral supports, and
students’ academic success.
from organizations like Illuminate Education to help educators ensure
students have the SEB skills they need to thrive.
are a few ways that educators can support students’ SEB
learning is taking place in a classroom, virtual environment or
hybrid version of both, it’s important to remain mindful in
actively engage ELs in the four domains of language acquisition:
speaking, listening, reading and writing.
the best of times ELs can find themselves to be one to two years
behind their peers. Add in learning loss due to the pandemic, and
instructional time for ELs becomes even more critical.
appropriate data around student performance is an important part of
assisting ELs in gaining English proficiency.
who are acquiring English need to be evaluated regularly so their
progress toward proficiency can be tracked. In my experience,
teachers of ELs benefit from assessments that are focused on
measuring students’ acquisition of foundational reading skills in
instructional time for ELs is critical. Here are some tips to keep in
mind for lesson planning:
Provide time for students to
preview, view and review materials, such as recorded videos, lesson
materials and discussion questions, before a lesson begins. This
preview time gives EL students an opportunity to think about the
content and form their responses. I recommend using recording
functions whenever possible so that lessons can be archived for
students to access later. Keep flexibility in mind, and provide
multiple ways for students to demonstrate learning and proficiency.
you plot a path forward, create a balance between SEB support and
essential learning for EL students. Whether it’s in school or
remote, instructional time is essential to close gaps for EL
work to ensure ELs have access, connection and support —
no matter their
Alejandra Estrada-Burt is native Spanish speaker and co-principal at
Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion School.
She previously worked as assistant principal at Neill Elementary, and
prior to that was assistant principal at Northport Elementary. Dr.
Estrada-Burt also worked at Zanewood Elementary School as a behavior
interventionist and English Language Learner teacher.