This event is being brought to us by Seidlitz Education in partnership with Inlier Learning. The CEO of Inlier Learning is Orly Klapholz . I often mention her for her work in the area of SLIFE (Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education).
John explains that he became passionate about supporting this cause after different experiences with unaccompanied youth and also recently with some adults who had been unaccompanied minors earlier in life. Stephen Hurley, like many of our listeners, is not in an area of the world that is seeing large numbers of children crossing the border without adults. He asked John to explain more about who these children are and why they are unaccompanied.
John gave some common reasons. For example,
Poverty. Parents may have left their children with relatives while they come to the US to work in an attempt to escape extreme poverty. Children may come to the US in search of those parents
Danger. I had a student who was without their parents in the United States. His situation was that once he became a teenager, he was captured by gangs more than once. He decided to make the journey to the U.S. While it was dangerous to do so, it was less dangerous than his life had become in his home country
EMILY FRANCIS and one of her students. Her story is particularly meaningful to me as we were able to use her blogposts about her journey to inspire so many of my students.
ARI HONARVAR grew up in Shiraz, Iran where she was surrounded by Persian poetry and art. John points out that Ari’s story is different from what many of us envision when we think of unaccompanied youth. Ari is a journalist, author, and Iranian Musical Ambassador of Peace.
DR. JOSE LUIS ZELAYA grew up in San Pedro Sula in Honduras and came to the U.S. as a child with two bullet holes in his legs. He has since graduated with a PhD in Urban Education from Texas A&M University.
Educators like Larry Ferlazzo and Pamela Broussard regularly offer their students opportunities to share their stories. They have inspired many other teachers like me to do the same. It is always successful and powerful for the presenter and for those that get to listen.
I feel like that is my biggest takeaway. The power of stories. They can help us build empathy, they can inspire and they can help us understand how to support our students.
I hope to see you at the Amplifying the Voices of Unaccompanied Minors conference. Look for me in the chat and to be tweeting about it with the hashtag: #VoicesofUnaccompaniedMinors
Experiencing an interruption in education is not a cognitive issue. It is a lack of opportunity issue.
Dr. Margaret Aisicovich, a member of my professional learning network, agrees. But her research and experience, unfortunately, suggest that many educators still believe that SLIFE (Students with limited or interrupted formal education) are less capable than other students.
I was delighted to have Dr. Aisicovich join me for a live show with Stephen Hurley. You can listen to my reflections and some of our chat right here:
I am using her research in my own doctoral work. I am still early in my own process but my literature review and preliminary observations are in direct alignment with what Margaret shares on the show. Part of her research centers around how teachers view their ability to be effective with SLIFE. Her work was conducted in Manitoba, Canada, and in her area, students who missed foundational education are referred to as LAL (Literacy, Academics, and Language) students.
Dr. Aisicovich has a master’s and a PhD in Education. She has been a K-12 principal, has taught grades K–12, and has taught in higher education. While she was teaching, she taught English as an additional language to new Canadians and published two books with her students: How I Got My Name, Lost it and Found it Again and An Anthology of School Stories by EAL High School Students in English and Their Mother Tongue. You can learn more about her work at her website: www.maisicovich.com
Dr. Aisicovich was born in Poland and moved to Canada at the age of six. She talks about that experience on the show. Her perspective was so great for my reflection.
A big takeaway for me was how much we need to plan for our SLIFE. Namely:
Transitioning to mainstream classes
How they will get access to grade-level standards
How we will create spaces where they feel valued
Creating a system of equity
But a critical part of the equation is whether or not the teacher believes they can support the student.
I keep thinking about the teachers that would cry to Margaret because they did not feel prepared to support SLIFE/LAL learners. Many of us have felt this way.
This is one of the main reasons I do this show. It is helping me learn. The more I learn from colleagues like Dr. Aisicovich, the more prepared I feel to support LAL/SLIFE. All teachers deserve training to support their under-schooled students.
Thank you, once again, Margaret. We are excited for your book to come out in the fall of 2021. It is not about ESL or SLIFE/LAL students. It is a book with tales about the pitfalls, heartbreak, and challenges people face when they choose the profession of being an educator. Watch the newly released trailer here:
We are excited to have Margaret come back on the show to share more about the book closer to the release date. Stay up to date on the book by following Dr. Aisicovich on Twitter. She is at @MAisicovich
Thank you for stopping by the blog/show notes… for supporting my learning journey… and for all you do!
Here are the learning opportunities that can help educators support SLIFE
I realize that I sent you an email about the ML Summit but it is now just a few days away and I posted a podcast episode about it. So there need to be some shownotes for it. So please excuse the repetition or you can use this as a reminder that we start-up in just a few days! Even if you find this post after July 2021, all the sessions are still there…as are the ones from 2017 to 2020!
Here’s that quick show just raising awareness for folks who don’t know about the virtual free conference: