Have a clue…

When I was thinking about this topic, I considered the relationships that I have begun to

establish in my classroom.  I have met many wonderful students.  Speaking with some and learning about

their families and interests has been easy.  Others are more challenging because they are naturally quiet.


I watched this short video some time ago from Rita Pierson.  She is from a family of educators and was  a teacher for 40 years.

She once heard a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.’’



My thoughts about student relationships kept returning to one particular group.  I discovered that I do not know much about those students that are English Language Learners.

These students are polite, engaged and cause no problems.  They do not draw attention to themselves so they are not an issue, right?

While they are certainly not a problem in the class, I realized that I needed to know more in order to get to know them better.

I found a great blog from Larry Ferlazzo


about building relationships with ELLs.


When I taught in France I found that building these relationships was easy.  The students were naturally curious about everything American.  They were also motivated to learn words in English beyond ‘cowboy’ and ‘cool.’

I wonder how I could engage the international students in a similar way.




Looking for more resources on this topic, I found that The University of San Diego created this site  to help foster positive environments for ELLs.  It discusses issues such as student motivation from the perspective of the ELL.

Much of the information is similar….no matter what language you speak.

My favorite part is under the section ‘Cultures.’  The site contains very useful information about different cultures and behaviors you might see in the classroom that do not make sense from an American perspective.  Some of the cultures included include: Chines, Hmong, Laotian, Sudanese and Vietnamese.


The Sudanese elder John Kang  framed the issue well when he wrote in his section: “To win the child’s respect is to know the ethnic/cultural origin of the child, and understand where this might have some impact on the school teaching system.”


J. Kang




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