It takes a village: EL Supports & Updates
Guest Author: Lori Fink, Distinctive Schools EL Network Coordinator
Personalized Learning from an English learner (EL) lens is super exciting, because it is very inline with WIDA’s Can Do philosophy, as well as Distinctive Schools’ strategic plan, to embrace the cultural and linguistic attributes each of our students bring to school. Likewise, relationships are at the heart of everything we do, and our students come from diverse backgrounds. Personalized learning promotes developing relationships and a deep understanding of student cultures. If we are to truly develop successful young people, we must focus on building relationships with our entire school community. Hence, as we look to establish impactful relationships with diverse students and families, an integral step is to develop strong school and home partnerships.
In order to do so, Chicago International Charter Schools (CICS), Bucktown, Irving Park, Prairie, and West Belden, managed by Distinctive School, have a Bilingual Advisory Committee (BAC). The goal of the BAC is to facilitate leadership development of parents in order to advocate for the academic, social, and cultural development of all ELs. This year, our campuses have had tremendous success through the inclusion of the BAC in the school community. Participation has supported student academic and social-emotional success, celebrated and overcame language and cultural differences, and continues to empower families to be engaged in their child’s education.
Highlights: At CICS Bucktown, BAC parents organized a Fall Fest Potluck. A record breaking 75 students and parents participated. Families enjoyed food from different cultures and an authentic performance representative of music from the Andes Mountains.
CICS Irving Park’s BAC helped to design and promote culturally and linguistically responsive classrooms by organizing a family history project and bulletin boards representative of classroom communities. Throughout the month long project, there was an excitement amongst the students and faculty as everyone was sharing and learning about each other’s culture.
At CICS Prairie, parents strengthened their leadership skills by attending parent trainings hosted by the Office of Language and Culture. Parents learned about bilingual education, immigration rights, and parental involvement. They were able to bring that information back to the school to share with the greater community.
Just like learning is personalized for our students, Distinctive Schools also provides personalized learning for our parents. For instance, voice and choice helps drive our parental engagement. By asking families what they want, we are able to seek out meaningful opportunities that meet parent needs. It is through this model that we look forward to continuing to strengthen, bolster, and grow parent and community collaboration to provide a distinctive educational experience for all of our stakeholders.