School Leader Newsletter: Special Education & ELL Supports

April 3, 2020

Dear School Leaders,

I want to continue to extend my deep gratitude to each of you. As a former school leader, I know how much work goes into running a school in the best of times. Running a school amidst a global crisis is an incredible feat. Across the city, you are caring for your students with such love, dedication, and wisdom.

You are rallying with your teams to provide wise advice, make morning announcementsconnect with families and notify them of resources, remind your students they are part of a vibrant school community, get in touch with them individually, and so much more. You have our deep admiration, and if there are additional ways we can help, please let us know. If you have not already seen our email about two large but time-sensitive federal funding opportunities, you can find it here.

Today, we wanted to reach out with a focus on supporting students who are English language learners and those who have disabilities and/or different learning needs. To do so, we are sharing reflections from three experts, and providing links to some resources we have found. Based on your requests, we are also linking to some general resources for distance learning, virtual meetings, and more.

We want to continue to provide support, and we want to make sure it is useful to you. To help us do so, please consider filling out this two-question survey, which should take under one minute.

Supporting Students With Disabilities and/or Unique Learning Needs

We connected with Aqua Stovall, Executive Director of the Special Education Leader Fellowship (SELF). SELF’s programming helps develop leaders to improve the quality of special education in our city. She shared her reflections and important resources with us here.

We also connected with Holly Paczak, Director of School Support & Improvement at NOLA Public Schools. In Holly’s role, she oversees the team working on special education for the district. She shared some reflections with us, which you can access here.

Resources for supporting students with diverse learning needs

TNTP has a helpful two-pager entitled “Specialized support for students with diverse learning needs engaged in at-home learning.”

The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) has prepared a guide to direct services for continuous learning for students with disabilities, as well as a guide to accommodations. There are also answers to important questions around educating students with disabilities in LDOE’s FAQs.

As you work with families, you may want to share that LDOE has created a “Family Toolbox” to help families support the continuous education of students with disabilities. In addition, Disability Rights Louisiana is offering assistance with disability-related COVID-19 concerns for both children and adults.

Supporting English Language Learners

We connected with Annie Laurie Duguay, Director of Language and Literacy at the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL). CAL works to promote “access, equity and mutual understanding for linguistically and culturally diverse people around the world.” They conduct research, provide professional development, develop instructional materials, and more. You can read her advice and reflections here.

Resources for supporting English language learners

LDOE provides some resources around supporting students learning English through distance learning.

TNTP has a two-pager entitled “Supporting multilingual learners (MLLs)/English language learners (ELLs) during the COVID-19 shutdown.”

CAL offers online courses for educators. You can also access their free webinars here.

Immigrant Connections has a list of many resources for family engagement and student learning alike, including:

Catholic Charities offers remote bilingual wellness activities for families (like storytime) as well as multilingual resource guides.

Additional Resources

Many of you requested additional resources in areas like distance learning and virtual meetings. We provide some below.

Best practices and tools for distance learning and virtual meetings

  • Concrete tips about using technology for both live and recorded remote instruction
  • Free “Classroom U” Zoom trainings for educators on April 4, 6, and 7
  • “Humanizing Online Teaching,” a guide with suggested pedagogical practices from education professors (although intended for a higher education context, the recommendations may be useful for K-12 online lessons as well)
  • Resources Toolkit for hosting online meetings and events
  • learning path with 16 free online “courses” (each 30-90 minutes) about remote working best practices and learning to use relevant tools/platforms

Academic resources for distance learning

We will continue to reach out with educator-focused resources through these newsletters. In particular, we are thinking about how to implement trauma-informed practices and support mental well-being among students, educators, families, and our community at large. NSNO is sharing broader resources for our whole community through separate email updates as well. Again, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Sincerely,

Jawan

Jawan Brown-Alexander, Ed.D
Chief of Schools
New Schools for New Orleans
504-284-0456
jawan@nsno.org

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