How to Tackle Disrupted Learning in ELLs

‘Disrupted learning’ has been a constant for school leaders, teachers, parents and students over the last few years.

As students across the nation begin to return to the classroom, K-12 school leaders face an uphill battle. Staffing shortages and increased demands on their time make it challenging to deliver equitable learning outcomes, particularly for the most vulnerable of learners.

Learning Disrupted

English Language Learners (ELLs) have been particularly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Research suggests that these learners, which make up 10% of US K-12 students, are up to three scale points behind other learners. Back to school represents a critical juncture for each of these learners.

To ensure that this disruption is not a permanent feature of the education system, districts and schools will need to learn from best practices and implement meaningful change.    

As a leading provider of tools and content for English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers, Off2Class has the privilege of working alongside districts across the US. This gave us a first-hand look at the challenges of ensuring a quality education for ELLs. We’ve seen the difficulty but we’ve also seen brilliant examples of schools and teachers working to overcome disrupted learning.

Today, we’re pleased to share what we’ve learned in a new whitepaper, Listening to the Teachers: Six Ways to Tackle Disrupted Learning in English Language Learners.

What We Learned

We believe in listening, both to our district partners and teachers. In addition to compiling the best of school-based practice and district leaders, we specifically took time to listen to individual teachers. At the end of 2021, we partnered with the highly-respected US education news site, the 74, to conduct a survey of those teachers. We wanted to understand what we could take from their experience of the pandemic and how to better serve learners. 

There was more to those insights than the headlines. This briefing document reflects lessons from that survey and insights from our Facebook community of 10,000+ teachers. It also includes best practice emerging from our 100+ US K12 schools and district partners.

Six lessons stand out from our work over the last year for districts looking to better focus on learners.

  • Focus on the Right Tools
  • Prioritize Newcomers
  • Save Time for Students
  • Embrace Supplemental Opportunities
  • Look to Upskill
  • Expand the Pool

The paper highlights brilliant educators like Tarro Funches (Canton Public School District, MS). She founded a consortium of English Language (EL) coordinators in an effort to share information and make smarter edtech decisions.

Putnam City School District (OK) offered a special “Summer Recharge” program this summer. The program focused on newcomers in middle and high school with the goal of improving language skills.

Teacher shortages are in the headlines. Tulsa Public Schools (OK) took a creative approach to solve this issue. They used virtual tutors to offer additional learning opportunities for students over the summer.

The paper also covers lessons learned from our inaugural ESL Career Week, laying out ways that districts can build better pipelines of teacher talent.

What Comes Next

The release of this paper is just a start. We know this is just the beginning of capturing the brilliant work of districts across the US (and schools across the world).

The lessons presented in the whitepaper are a start, but a shift in imagination and practice is needed. The ability to support language learning should be a new basic competency for all educators.

To that end, if you have further questions or want to learn more about any of these districts or Off2Class, drop us a line,

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