Danielle Boggs, Champaign, IL, DanielleBoggs@cpm.org With the support of the emerging multilingual learners team—Astrida Lizins (AstridaLizins@cpm.org), Brianna Ruiz (BriannaRuiz@cpm.org), Candice Tyloch (CandiceTyloch@cpm.org), Daniel Henderson (DanielHenderson@cpm.org), Rhonda Pierre (RhondaPierre@cpm.org), and Mícheál Marsh (MichealMarsh@cpm.org)
Do you position your multilingual learners for success? If I am being entirely honest, I have not always done this, even when I would have answered Yes. I thought I was, but I know now that is not necessarily what I did. I would like to share some food for thought here, as well as hope (and resources) for the future.
As my years in the classroom increased, so did the number of multilingual learners on my roster. I was inadequately prepared for this, but tried many things that were suggested to me— using pictures, making worksheets, grouping multilingual students with others who spoke their home language, and more. Upon reflection, some of these may have been more harmful than helpful. I was oversimplifying assignments and isolating students from their peers. I was inadvertently positioning multilingual learners in my classroom as observers instead of as active participants, doers of mathematics, and leaders, and I was sending a message that they were incapable and did not belong. Although that was not my intention, I realize now that this was a disservice not only to my multilingual learners, but to all students within the classroom community.
Over the last year, I have learned a lot with my colleagues. We have spent a great deal of time sharing our own experiences, exploring research, reading, reflecting, and collaborating on how we can best support teachers and emerging multilingual learners in a classroom using CPM materials. I am not an expert by any means. I am still a learner on this journey to do better, but I am excited to be able to share our work in hopes of helping more students.
In a recent session at CPM’s Great Lakes Conference, I was able to present a piece of our team’s learning on the Mathematical Language Routines with my colleague and friend, Astrida Lizins. Before we explored several of these routines, we shared a quote from Teaching Math to Multilingual Students (Grades K-8): Positioning English Learners for Success, a joint publication from Corwin and NCTM:
Multilingual learners deserve the same social and academic opportunities to learn and be successful as their English speaking peers. All students should learn how to interpret the meaning of problems, make conjectures, analyze mathematical thinking and solutions, monitor and evaluate their progress, and understand the approaches of others in comparison with their own.(Chaval et al, 2021, p.xv)
The response to this quote from our participants and colleagues gave me chills. A large number of teachers in the room were affirming this statement, nodding along, and praising the message—many of them multilingual learners themselves. This reaction further stressed the importance of this work. They understood what it felt like to experience the opposite of this quote, and in that brief moment, I would like to think that they felt seen, heard, and understood.
This has been my experience on the journey thus far, and I would like to offer you a few questions for reflection on your own beliefs and classroom practices:
- How do you position your multilingual learners to be successful in the math classroom?
What are the unique assets and strengths of your multilingual learners?
How do you support collaboration in a multilingual classroom?
How might you feel if you were a multilingual learner in your own classroom?
If you are looking to explore these ideas, I would like to offer you guidance and resources compiled by our team in hopes of supporting you on your own journey. Check out any or all of the following opportunities:
- Explore the newly released “Emerging Multilingual Learners (EML) On-Demand Resource Module” in the Professional Learning Portal. This module contains a library of resources, text excerpts, routines, sentence frames, podcasts, and more.
Register now for the full-day preconference session focused on Activating Agency for Emerging Multilingual Learners on Friday, February 24, before the 2023 CPM Teacher Conference, and/or attend some of our conference sessions regarding multilingual learners.
Reach out to your Regional Professional Learning Coordinator if you are looking to contract virtual or in person learning focused on positioning multilingual learners for success.
Be on the lookout for an updated on-demand module with even more resources and tools to add to your toolkit.
Email me! I would love to chat with you via email or set up a virtual meeting to discuss and brainstorm with you.
Last but not least, I would love to hear from you and learn from your experiences and expertise! How are you experiencing success? What have you learned on your own journey? Do you have ideas that you want to share with your fellow CPM teachers? Email me with questions, comments, or ideas at DanielleBoggs@cpm.org.
Now that I know better, I will continue to do better. Thank you for joining me on the journey to bring more math to more people.