Newcomer Emergent Bilingual (EB) students are one of the fastest growing segments of the school-age population in our state. It is vitally important to continuously facilitate interactive listening, speaking, reading, and writing learning opportunities for our newcomer EB students across content areas. A multi-beneficial learning tool to nurture with newcomer EBs is getting to know them through classroom opportunities for sharing and documenting their lived experiences.

Our EB students include immigrant youth with unique personal experiences that can enrich our classroom dialogue. Understanding how to reach and engage newcomer EB students in our classrooms is critical to their multilanguage development and academic success. Sharing their lived experiences at their comfort levels provides a scaffolded tool to develop and strengthen academic vocabulary while often providing an outlet for social and emotional support for students. Educators may use these learning opportunities to promote resilience and guide newcomer EB students towards personal success and overcoming academic challenges. These learning opportunities will also springboard classroom discussions to higher levels of comprehension and analysis cognition for all students involved in the process.

The instructional output tools for newcomer EB students to share their lived experiences can include story books, journal writings, summary excerpts, presentations, video documentaries, storyboards, graphic organizers, and more. The storied communications students share about their lived experiences through their single to multistep projects will also provide formative information for educators to check for content understanding and tailor to the academic needs of our EBs. To successfully respond to the diverse needs of EB students, educators must examine their varied backgrounds and academic needs. The interactive learning opportunities for newcomer EB students to share their lived experiences can also extend their background knowledge and schema as they commence or navigate through the problem-solving process of sharing their story.

I challenge all of us, as educators in our state, to foster multiple learning opportunities on our campuses for all our students to share their own stories, especially our EBs. Their stories are important because they are important.

Please share your stories and the learning opportunities being nurtured for students to share their own stories on your campuses. Tag #WeLeadTX and @s_puga.

Soor-el Puga is the Director of Bilingual/ESL Programs and Migrant Services in Marble Falls ISD. He previously served as principal of a two-way dual language campus. He currently serves as TEPSA Region 13 President and was named the 2020 Region 13 TEPSAN of the Year.

The Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA), whose hallmark is educational leaders learning with and from each other, has served Texas PK-8 school leaders since 1917. Member owned and member governed, TEPSA has more than 6000 members who direct the activities of 3 million PK-8 school children. TEPSA is an affiliate of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

© Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association

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