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Learning From the EL Experience

Hanna, T. (2017). Social and emotional learning for English learners: Lessons from Colorado’s teacher of the year. Available at

This article shines a spotlight on some of the reasons why social and emotional learning (SEL)—a critical area of focus for all students—is especially important for English learners (ELs). For example, research suggests that ELs may experience anxiety about their language capabilities, and it can prevent them from socializing or practicing using English. To help address the SEL needs of ELs, the article highlights some of the strategies that Colorado Teacher of the Year Leticia Ingram has used in her classroom. For example, in addition to academic content, she prioritizes teaching “survival language”, or language that ELs will need to use to function in modern society, like checking out at a grocery store or asking for directions. She further shares that beyond language skills, it is important for her students to develop the SEL skills that will allow them to deal with the difficult experiences they may come across in society. The author argues that Ingram’s methods are an excellent model for this work, but her work needs to be scaled to state and federal policy levels to create positive results for all children.

Garden Grove Unified School District. (2018). GGUSD Latinos Unidos conference empowers student leaders. Available at

Representatives from the Garden Grove Unified School District (GGUSD) student group Latinos Unidos will join the Collaborative meeting as panelists on the meeting’s first day. The group focuses on empowering Latino students and eliminating instances of discrimination in all GGUSD classrooms and beyond. This piece describes some of the opportunities students in Latinos Unidos have as members of the group, and the community support surrounding the organization.

Griffin, A. (2018). Our stories, our struggles, our strengths: Perspectives and reflections from Latino teachers. Available at

This report presents findings from a series of focus groups conducted with Latino teachers throughout the United States. Although Latinos come from a diverse array of racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, the researchers found many common themes among the teachers’ experiences. The interviewed teachers felt a responsibility to serve as role models and to advocate for Latino students, and found that shared cultural experiences help improve these connections. Latino teachers also reported that they were likely to include Spanish language and Latino culture in their curriculum; studies have shown that this practice can improve student reading outcomes in both Spanish and English. Challenges for these teachers included a perception that they are less able to serve white students, and the assumption that they will take on all Spanish-language translation duties for their schools.