Advice for school leaders on how to serve English learners and special ed students

Advice for school leaders on how to serve English learners and special ed students

As part of our ongoing “How-To” series, here are tips from XQ school leaders on meeting the needs of students with diverse skill levels, especially students who are English language learners or in special education. Although some groups of students might have specific needs, the following tips may be helpful in guiding every student to reach their full potential.

Build a strong hiring profile. Does your hiring profile match the type of educator necessary to close gaps and support all learners? Do your hires have a clear vision of what your expectations for meeting all students look like?

Audit your school schedule. Does your school schedule provide English learners and special ed students “just the right” level of support? Are there spaces for personalized or small group learning?

Coach and train teachers. Does the professional development you provide reinforce strategies and methods for meeting English learner and special ed students’ needs? How are you building a student-centered culture where all means all? Is the performance of your diverse learners tied to teacher performance reviews?

Engage families. What do parents know about their student’s grade-level performance and how they can be supportive?

Strategies for teaching and learning. Make teaching reading, writing, speaking, and collaborative skills the heart and soul of what happens in every classroom. Use rubrics to measure successful teaching, and as a tool to give feedback on individual assignments. Give students a chance to apply what they’ve learned to their next assignment.

Use the data to improve. How regularly are special ed and English learner departments given the opportunity to review data and collaborate with other departments? How do teachers, students, and parents stay informed about student progress throughout the year? Are students aware of their academic performance and are they reaching their goals? Do you lead by using asset-based and people-first language? Is there a dedicated time to celebrate the growth of English learners and special ed students?


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