Announcer:

This podcast is produced by Benchmark Education.

Kevin Carlson:

Newcomers. It's a term that refers to foreign born students and their families, people who have recently arrived in the U.S.. But when it comes to school, that definition only tells part of the story. In this episode, you'll learn about Understanding and Supporting Newcomers. I'm Kevin Carlson, and this is Teachers Talk Shop.

Silvia Dorta-Duque de Reyes:

Teachers, how do we help our students hold on to the belief and the promise that no matter how hard things are here in the United States, through education, we can make a lot of things happen.

Kevin Carlson:

That is Silvia Dorta-Duque de Reyes. She is a biliteracy expert and is well known for her work in Spanish to English cross-linguistic transfer. She is currently a national literacy consultant and author for Benchmark Education. Author and educator Patty McGee spoke with Silvia recently about newcomers.

Patty McGee:

Silvia, we are so happy you're here. Thank you.

Silvia Dorta-Duque de Reyes:

Thank you so much, Patty, and I'm very happy to be here.

Patty McGee:

So for those of us who might be unfamiliar with the term or a really new in supporting newcomers, let's just start with the basics. So could you define newcomers?

Silvia Dorta-Duque de Reyes:

Ok, so the term newcomers refers to foreign born students and their families that have recently arrived. Now there's different types of newcomers, and we'll talk about that. But one thing that I want to emphasize is that throughout history, people from all over the world have come, have immigrated to the United States to start a new life, and they bring with them their customs, their religions, their languages. And really, we all know that the United States is, to a great extent, a nation of immigrants. But one of the things that I also want to emphasize is the incredible, incredible role that schools play in helping the newcomers adapt and contribute as they integrate to the American society. Again, it's a very important role that helps the students be successful because immigrants become and have immigrants themselves have a very, very important role in the fabric of our society, and I want to talk a little bit about that. And I know that Kenji Hakuta has researched the important contributions of immigrants in the United States, and I think it's really important to think about that when we think about newcomers.

Silvia Dorta-Duque de Reyes:

Yes, they're new. Yes, they are right here. Yes, there's different types of newcomers. And that's the other part that we will be talking about is how the different types of newcomers and how they our services need to be differentiated because there are different conditions in the world that brings people or that creates these, this movement of people globally.

Patty McGee:

How about we start then with describing what to expect from newcomers?

Silvia Dorta-Duque de Reyes:

There are several things you want to understand that they are ready to contribute and that they bring with them a certain energy. And we need to look for that because they also bring anxiety. You know, they're vulnerable. They bring that and it's very hard. Nobody just picks up and goes to another country, you know, just because. The conditions that prompt that migration are really important. They're sociopolitical. Sometimes there are natural resources or lack of natural resources like water, food and all those things disable sustainability and you have to go and look for a better place for yourself and your family. So very few, very few people, myself included, make it to the United States and they're ready to contribute. They were ready to create better conditions for ourselves.

Silvia Dorta-Duque de Reyes:

And as we create better conditions for ourselves, we create that for others. So again, teachers, how do we enable that possibility? How do we help our students, you know, hold on to the belief and the promise that no matter how hard things are here in the United States through education, we can make a lot of things happen. And and so again, in describing the newcomers, some come here to seek asylum. Some are refugees fleeing from persecution and some are unaccompanied youth. And we always have waves of people at different times and the children, we take care of them, we take care of them through schools and social agencies. So something that I want to point out is that because you were saying, Patty, what do the newcomers bring with them? Well, they bring this incredible energy and this incredible belief in potential that they have and that we need to promote from within. In them as well. But they also bring that anxiety because even after they get admitted. There's a long process that has to happen that creates a lot of anxiety, the students know that they are being processed and it's an unknown. I just want to say that, you know, being a newcomer is very emotionally taxing. Being an English learner is very emotionally taxing.

Kevin Carlson:

After the break, the role of schools and the needs of newcomers. Stay with us.

Announcer:

As the English learner population continues to grow, more and more newcomers, students are attending K through 12 schools. “Where are you from?” “I'm from Haiti.” Newcomers face a number of integration barriers as they master a new language in a different educational system. Benchmark Hello! is a unique and comprehensive program that equips newcomers with essential oral language from day one. “Want to work on something together?” “Yeah, that sounds fun.” Meet the unique needs of newcomers, accelerate their language development, and create an environment where newcomers thrive with Benchmark Hello! “Bye!” “Adios!” Find out more about Hello! at benchmark education.

Patty McGee:

So what do newcomers then need from schools or what can schools do to meet the needs of newcomers?

Silvia Dorta-Duque de Reyes:

When the students come, the first thing we want to do is have a welcoming environment. And everything, everything is so appreciated. A smile. Respect. A spirit of service. If I had to cloak myself in something to provide the newcomers in my classroom, it would be that smile that respect that, that spirit of service, that non-judgmental acceptance is really important. That kindness freely given. You are that model for the rest of the children in the classroom to see how you treat somebody new, somebody new that, yes, looks different, dresses different. There's something different about them and they feel it and you notice it. It's natural. But how do we treat that condition in our classroom? How open? How welcoming? How serviceable? And that implies a lot of social, emotional support. So again, that welcoming environment number one, number two, social emotional support. What does that mean in school and outside of school? And we need to take a holistic approach, a family-oriented approach, you know, because it's not just the child, it's the child and the family. So I think teachers need to become aware of their communities. Where are the medical services, where are basic needs like food, clothing, shelter? How does that work in your own community? You know, schools are part of that community, but I know that as teachers, we have so much to do that sometimes we're not aware of all the services and the network outside of the schools, and we are part of that network.

Silvia Dorta-Duque de Reyes:

So again, you know, the families are going to need a little bit of help. And when you have access to the family, you need to also provide look. There's this agency and you can get food here and you can communicate all of these services, right? But even information about the school, you know, you provide a little folder with all this in it. I emphasize a folder because, you know, papers get lost, you know, so use the paper clips, use the stapler, you use the folders, staple them onto the folder so that they don't get lost so that they can have all the school things in one place that that would be important for the family. But let's look at the students themselves. Number one, and I think we know this, and I think that this is a good idea as to like, review these very basic things like in school, each student, they need buddies. They need a friend to walk with them out to recess, to line up with them, to do all these things that we take for granted. The bell rings. Oh my gosh, you know, what does that mean? You know, all of these things that they have a buddy with them to show them the ropes?

Patty McGee:

Let me recap here for a second. You are given a folder for the family. That's super helpful as we create this welcoming environment. A buddy for the student. What else did you have in mind?

Silvia Dorta-Duque de Reyes:

And I think that there's two types of buddies there. If you're a second-grade teacher, you need a buddy that is going to be, you know, like just following the student going out to play help you do all the things within that schedule of the school time. And even in the classroom. But then you could also you could also have a system where you have the older students remember, become ambassador guides, mentors, academic tutors, the older kids that have been there themselves. You know, if I have a first grader, give me a fifth grader or a sixth grader to come in to help out during recess during whatever time that is mutual.

Patty McGee:

So getting your buddies and your ambassadors or academic tutors together.

Silvia Dorta-Duque de Reyes:

That's really important. Now the other thing too, that we need is we need that academic program, that academic curriculum that really makes a big difference because you can't just put the students right into your classroom without understanding that there's a lot of differentiation that needs to happen. So you want to be able to have a curriculum, something that you know you're going to have to be developing language, but also developing cognition that is super important. You know, pay attention to the thinking functions, to creativity, to identity and self-reliance, goal setting, monitoring my own work as a student. So these are things that I want to talk about a little bit more. I want to talk about, you know, the curriculum that values the home language because you want to value that home language, you want to provide language development, but you also want the students to learn how to use their home language to learn English.

Silvia Dorta-Duque de Reyes:

You want a curriculum that provides a scope and sequence that is cohesive, that is able to give you basic structures of language, but at the same time, expand on those structures. Expand so that, yes, you have your sentence frame, but you can also break out of that sentence frame as you make that language your own. And there has to be a reason why you make that language your own. So you have to create this idea of social interaction that the Stanford papers tell us about. That language is developed by the use by the need. So you have your language structures, you have the social interaction, and you integrate the four domains cohesively. Well, we want programs. You can pick a program that does all this when you know what to look for. That is something that's very special. The other very, very important thing to be aware in our classrooms is the idea of that technological interaction. You're welcoming of this newcomer. You want to be able to provide them access to the new tools of learning for reading from a tablet to note-taking to Test-Taking, to navigating through the different applications for a tablet on an iPhone or whatever. The computer. So remember, you know, our learning tools are very advanced and children need to learn those. So you know, that has to be an opportunity. And thank goodness kids are like ready to learn all of that. But without leaving behind the idea of having a little box with your pencils, your glue, your little scissors, crayons, things that are your little basic supply kit that goes home so that the students have that, that's really, really very important.

Patty McGee:

To recap a little bit of what you've been saying, we almost want to have a balance of kind of two things where we're first thinking about the human and the humanity in front of us, right? This newcomer, their family and their home language, their customs, their anxieties, their potential and power. And at the same time, we're thinking about how we can leverage all of that to then begin building another language, including English, to function well in the community.

Silvia Dorta-Duque de Reyes:

And building the academics.

Patty McGee:

Yes. And to build academics.

Silvia Dorta-Duque de Reyes:

Yeah. And that third other dimension of technology now. Let's talk a little bit more about building the academic and how we do that, because I'm saying that we need to understand is that thinking comes before language so that metacognition and children read the world before they read words. Yes. And we need to understand how we want to think with the children and build in that thinking that procedural knowledge. So what does that mean? That means that programs need to have things like projects, embedded simple projects embedded in them so that students can do procedural learning. That takes a lot of thinking function. And then those thinking functions have special language structures that go with it and you want to build a knowledge that way, build knowledge and build the language that goes with that knowledge. That is really, really, really important.

Kevin Carlson:

After the break, Paddy's recap and some final thoughts from Silvia Reyes. Stay with us.

Announcer:

Cross-linguistic transfer: It means taking what you already know in one language and applying it to another language. To maximize student’s growth towards biliteracy in Grades K through 2, teachers need a tool that explicitly teaches for cross-linguistic transfer. And Benchmark Education’s Sound-Spelling Transfer Kit is that tool. Developed with biliteracy specialist Silvia Reyes, this innovative program facilitates cross-linguistic transfer of foundational skills and vocabulary between Spanish and English. Students increase their metalinguistic skills through the help of the kit components, which include Routines and Strategies Cards, Sound-Spelling Cards, Picture word cards, ABC lap books and more. Teachers get support for explicit, systematic, cross-linguistic transfer instruction and assessment from the research-based Teacher’s Handbooks. Learn more about Benchmark Education’s Sound-Spelling Transfer Kit at BenchmarkEducation.com

Patty McGee:

Just want to recap what we were able to talk about today and all the knowledge you brought to us today, you described what to expect from newcomers in such a in such a way that helps us really see how not only do they bring so much to learning, but they bring so much to all of us in this country and that schools have a unique opportunity to support newcomers and their families through being overtly welcoming.

Silvia Dorta-Duque de Reyes:

I do want to emphasize a couple of things like like moves.

Patty McGee:

Would you give us one as our wrap up today, give us one move.

Silvia Dorta-Duque de Reyes:

Okay, I'm going to give you one move. Number one, a sense of safety, belonging, identity with sustainability strategies. What do I mean? I mean, you have to have a place where the student says, this is your belonging. This is your cubby, this is your seat, this is your desk. Here's a little box. These are your things. This is your book. All of these things that that that say, I belong here and I have ownership. That's very important structures for learning a learning plan, independent and with peers, you want to have goal setting. This is what we're going to do today. This is what we're going to do this week and celebrate that. Also most important is a sense of identity. Welcome. You're here, but tell me your narrative. Don't hide that narrative. It's very important for identity. Tell me about you. Where did you come from? Where is that? Let's look at the global map. Here's where you came. Here's where you're you're now at. Here's what happened. This is why it happened. And now you're here. Welcome. And then you, the teacher, become part of that narrative that needs to continue. And where are you going to go? What are you going to do? How can I help you get there? So supporting that safety, that sustainability also includes teachers. That observation, you know, that observation. Did they fall asleep in your classroom? Let them do that. It is safe to do that here. Always. Have you always know where to get a new pair of shoes? Always know where to have a T-shirt. Know that yes, the nurse can give you this, but you might have one right there so that if anything happens, you can provide that on demand without making a big deal of anything a change of clothes. The idea that you want some discrete action when you need to address these basic needs because you know that creates stigma and you want to show the students in your classroom how you handle these basic needs.

Silvia Dorta-Duque de Reyes:

And again, I want to thank each and every one of you teachers for helping create this identity, this belonging. You know, you own your classroom. It belongs to you. Well, now you can share that with a newcomer and create that sense of belonging and identity.

Kevin Carlson:

Thank you, Silvia Reyes. Thank you, Patty McGee, and thank you for listening to Teachers Talk shop. If you want to learn more from Silvia register to view her free one-hour PD webinar called Addressing the Social, Emotional, Academic, and Linguistic Needs of Newcomers. You can learn more at Benchmark Education.com/webinars. For Benchmark Education, I'm Kevin Carlson.