BAP090 Dr. Ilene Winokur on Creating a Sense of Belonging – LIVE Show

What a treat to record a live show with Dr. Ilene Winokur!

I have followed Ilene for years and so I was thrilled to have her share about how we can be more culturally responsive for our diverse students.  Dr. Winokur shares the importance of belonging and how we can support students to develop their sense of belonging. You can listen to this show right here:
Listen to “BAP 090 Dr. Ilene Winokur on Creating a Sense of Belonging” on Spreaker.

In this show, Ilene shares that how critical it is to help students feel that they belong.  Creating a welcoming, safe space is the most important thing to consider when we support culturally and linguistically diverse learners.

I encourage you to explore Dr. Winokur’s website here.

Dr. Winokur has lived in Kuwait for 35 years and recently retired as the Director of the Foundation Program Unit (Math and English) at Gulf University for Science and Technology (GUST).

Her experience includes teaching and administration in PreK-5 and Pre-College. Her professional interests are leadership in practice, refugee education, and continuing professional development (CPD).

I get so much learning from following Dr. Winokur’s blog:

In this show, Ilene talks about how she still spends significant time working with refugees.  Her interest in refugee education stems from her own experience with being a refugee during the 1990 Gulf War and also her participation on the leadership team of the ISTE Global Collaboration Network.

A few of the many take-aways for me include:

  • Embrace students!  Embrace them, their families, and their cultures.
  • Important to feel trust and a safe environment.
  • Create relationships by listening to their stories and sharing our stories.   Ilene recommends that we focus first on relationships with the students and with their families.

Ilene mentions that she recorded a podcast episode with Tan Huynh – she recounts a great anecdote about a student using her native language in Tan’s class.  I recommend that show!

Ilene has some words about things to keep in mind as educators in the United States begin to take more refugees.

  • Resilience is not a given.  However, many refugees appreciate education and where it can take them in the future.
  • She tells us that she has come to see refugees as an amazing group of talented people!  We just need to discover their superpowers.  This takes time but we can develop an asset point of view if we look for the assets.
  • Point out the assets to your refugees and other marginalized students.

At that point in the show, I reflect on how this ALL falls into that message of belonging.  Dr. Winokur helped me reflect that I do need to REMIND myself to focus on what our students CAN do.  I want to do this, but like many, we need constant reminders when we work with students who are just gaining a language or just gaining literacy.

What is easy to do when we are in the context of a classroom:

Content and Language Objectives are powerful!  She recommends finding authentic opportunities to use language.  And makings sure, from a cultural perspective, that we are connecting with students.  Culture, not just language, can create a disconnect.

Ilene offers some great words about how we question!  She mentions wait time and tiering the questions in a way that helps them be comfortable and engaged.  Her ideas are specific and she explains them in a way that makes so much sense!

The links above offer many ways to learn more from Ilene.  I highly recommend that you check out all of her podcasts.  In fact, if you’d like to hear more from the two of us together, I was honored to be a guest on her show and you can listen to that right here:

Very special thanks to Dr. Winokur for taking the time to come on this live show.  We have live #BoostingAchievement shows every Monday and Friday morning at 7am ET so tune in to to catch those or to listen to the stream any time.  It’s a great place to learn and be inspired by educators like Ilene.

Please reach out and let me know your thoughts on belonging.  We’d love to hear them.

Thanks so much for listening!


PS:  If you are looking for a HOME RUN professional learning experience for your staff, please connect with me at  I’d love to personalize something for you to support your ELs or SLIFE.  You, your teachers and your students deserve it!

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