Are you schooling or educating your English learner students?

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Erick Herrmann
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Opinion Position
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Published Date
07-02-2018 3:53 PM
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English learners, like all students, go to school to learn. They are learning the knowledge and skills of the content areas as they are developing English proficiency. The goal, of course, is that students learn to be critical thinkers, are able to engage in society, and develop the skills necessary to be happy and successful human beings. As we teach our students, then, are we creating situations in which students can develop those skills? Or are we teaching them to robotically follow the rules that are imposed by the adults in the school? School is a structured learning environment; students follow a regular routine to engage in the learning process. There are rules and norms that are followed from the moment they walk onto the school grounds, including the procedures they follow as they enter campus, when they gather with their friends and classmates and when they enter the classroom to start the day. From there, the transitions throughout the day, the routines that students engage in for learning, and other routines and structures are designed to help students stay safe and provide an optimal learning environment. This aspect can be considered the schooling aspect of education. It would be difficult to find a person who believes that this aspect is not important it is a critical aspect of the learning environment that is specifically designed to keep students safe and optimize learning. However, students usually have little say in how the classroom is run. Of course, depending on the age and experience of the students, they may need to be explicitly taught how to behave on school grounds as well as in the classroom. That said, students can and should be involved in the decision-making process whenever possible. The following ideas are a few examples of ways to build student voice into the "schooling" process.
English Learners
English Learners