What Do I Say to Students About Immigration Orders?

Current events are hitting home with many students, and teachers have to be ready to talk about these topics. We know that, in many classrooms, students are asking about the recent events, including President Donald Trump’s executive orders.

Schools with immigrant, undocumented and refugee students are likely to see heightened anxieties and fears among students due to two executive orders: 1) a directive to start immediate construction on a border wall with Mexico and 2) a 90-day ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, and a 120-day suspension on refugee admissions into the United States (indefinitely for Syrian refugees). Recent U.S. population data shows that over 17 million children ages 18 and younger live with at least one immigrant parent. This means that students with direct ties to other countries account for about 25 percent of children in the United States—and these students are in our classrooms every day. We also know that immigrant and refugee students are more concentrated in particular states, school districts and schools.


So…What do I say to students?


Your voice—and other students’ voices—matter.  A full 80 percent of the educators who responded to a post-election survey described heightened anxiety and concern on the part of students worried about the impact of the election on themselves and their families. The biggest fear of all comes from immigrants; nearly 1,000 teachers specifically named “deportation” or family separation as a concern among students. In this context, it’s important to give your students a safe space to voice their fears and concerns. Depending on your grade level, this could be through academic conversations around a text or article, opinion writing prompts, artwork, journaling or simply a one-on-one during recess or lunch.


I’m here for you.  Students of all ages need to know they have an advocate and an ally in you. As their teacher, counselor, coach or administrator, students will look to you as a trusted adult outside of their family for help and optimism in the face of the unknown. As an educator, you are one of the first to witness the impact of increased enforcement against immigrant, unaccompanied and refugee students.

Also remind students that there are other people—beyond their classroom or school community—on their side. Find examples of office holders, volunteer attorneys, community members, activists and protesters who have issued statements (op-eds, social media posts, announcements, messages on posters and so forth) in support of students or students’ identity groups.


You have the right to be in this school, learning, no matter where you are from or what your citizenship or residency status is.  Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the landmark 1982 court case Plyler v. Doe ruled that public schools must enroll and register every child who resides in their geographic boundaries, regardless of the child’s or parents’ immigration status. This means that students are in a safe place while they are at school, and it is important to emphasize that repeatedly to students.


Here are the facts.  It’s hard to keep up with each new piece of information—and determine whether it’s true or an opinion—as the news is streaming in. It’s important not to let students repeat false information or perpetuate myths about immigrants and Muslims, as this can cause more anxiety and tension. Curate accurate, reliable articles for your students, and insist that they engage with facts.


There is a lot happening right now; it’s OK to be confused.  Sometimes educators don’t have the answers. Sometimes we stand before our students without the right words, and that’s OK. While we want the best for our students and their families, it’s important not to promise them anything you cannot guarantee. These are uncertain times and new policies and protests are happening simultaneously.


Source: https://www.tolerance.org   Submitted by Lauryn Mascareñaz on January 30, 2017

More Visitors to Dearborn

A team from Ann Arbor Public Schools visited Dearborn Public Schools to learn more about the successful EL program in place.  They are in the process of evaluating their EL program and were particularly interested in guidance toward the push-in delivery model for EL support.  They were enthralled to see how ELD Specialists work directly with general education teachers to support the content delivery and language development of English Learners.  The visit included opportunities to see successful models of coaching and co-teaching as well as collaboration that works.  Thank you to the district Language and Literacy coach and the administrators, ELD Specialists and classroom teachers at Edsel Ford High School, Woodworth Middle School, William Ford Elementary and Maples Elementary for opening their doors and sharing their expertise.





Fordson High School Hosts Visitors

A team of educators from Kentwood High School spent an engaging day at Fordson High School on Tuesday, December 17, 2016.   

Kentwood Public Schools ​has experienced a significant growth in their EL population in the past year and recognize the need to restructure their EL services and professional development.  The team of administrators and teachers were interested in the scheduling of our EL students, course placement, procedures and protocols, resources, staffing, and professional learning.  The visit included classroom observations in Language Arts, Biology, World History, Algebra 2, and Chemistry.  They also had time to debrief with the EL Department and Fordson staff afterwards.  The team was extremely impressed by the consistency and emphasis on explicit content and language objectives, student engagement, student articulation of tasks, and the positive climate and culture in every classroom they visited.  In addition, they appreciated the opportunity to discuss our professional development structure and the impact it has on staff which was evidenced as they visited classrooms.

A great big THANK YOU to the Fordson staff for their warm welcome and for allowing our visitors to learn from our incredible Dearborn Public Schools staff.  

New Families – Parent Meeting

The EL Department hosted another parent meeting for DPS families new to the country.  Parents rotated through three sessions that were planned based on parents’ survey results.  The sessions provided information on Adult Education (ESL Classes), Health & Dental and Special Education Services.



2016-17 Parent University

The district is offering FREE parent workshops at 10 locations.

The next one is Friday, January 20, 2017 from 9-10am.

Parents are invited to bring their infants and toddlers to these sessions for hands-on learning.

**Click on images below to enlarge**


Cajon Valley Visitors Share their Reflections about Dearborn Schools

“Encouraged by [Dearborn Public Schools’] example and success.  Setting the precedence will enable us to move forward with confidence.”  Jo Alegria, Cajon Valley School Board President
“I was mostly impressed by the clear-eyed focus and sheer dedication to English Learner students. I saw this in several ways that stood out:
  • Your teaching team reflects the community. This gives students a sense that they are in their home and that they too can be teachers and change-makers in their community
  • The volume of support staff at schools dedicated to language acquisition.
  • Principals led their schools with a specific focus on English Learners.
  • The central office staff charged with teacher training and support has a clear mandate from the district leadership that their efforts are a priority in the district. This enables smart people to make bold decisions. Plus those charged with executing the mandate lead with passion and hard work. “

Eyal Bergman, Family and Community Engagement Officer

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​”​It is clear that the Dearborn School District is laser focused when it comes to identifying and meeting the needs of their diverse student population. I am so impressed with the comprehensive MTSS model and the ongoing professional development offered to staff. District staff recognize that in order to have systemic change, they need to create a culture where every adult is responsible for student learning. The EL specialists are trained monthly and tasked with bringing that knowledge back to their school site. As the Director of Special Education I was excited to see how the EL department, Compensatory services Department and the Special Education department collaborate in 3D meetings. This cross collaboration ensures that everyone is on the same page and delivering high quality instruction and intervention. In every classroom that we visited it was evident that all staff were trained in best practices and implementing consistently. I was also moved by the great work that Dearborn does to ensure that newcomers and their families feel welcome and supported. They understand the challenge it is to come from another country, particularly a war torn country, and ensure that families and students are greeted by staff that speak their language and represent the community. Overall, our visit to Dearborn far exceeded my expectations. The district staff went out of their way to plan and organize tours of a variety of schools. At each school we were met by the school principal and key staff that spent time describing their journey, successes and challenges. We were also met by Executive Directors and the Superintendent. In a district so large and so busy, we are very grateful for time and efforts spent to help us as we embark on our own journey. Thank you.”
Jenine Henry, Director II, Special Education and Pupil Services

Standards-Based Instruction Amplifies Teaching and Learning

Miller Elementary Staff has been immersed in the Common Core State Standards.  They are excited about the positive changes they believe are in store for them.  The work has really led to a focus on working through the ELA standards and breaking them down to truly have a better understanding of the expectations.  The efforts have led to a more focused approach on teaching the standards effectively and planning measurable academic student tasks.  As a follow-up to a workshop on teaching with the standards in mind, this past week in particular was spent meeting with PLC grade-level teams to refine and extend the learning to ensure equitable access for all kids.

“Our session was informative and eye opening. [The] coaching has already shifted our thoughts, planning, and intentions in a positive and meaningful direction. More importantly, our teaching will be more focused and effective. Our entire staff looks forward to our future professional learning and growth.  I know this is a more efficient and meaningful way to teach, so thank you for your patience and thoroughness.” -S.Klan


“I know a big [take-away] was the clarification on the I do, we do and you do aspects of our mini lessons.  Teachers are now clear on how to implement that during the Daily 5 mini lessons.  Another piece was looking at the (quarterly) pacing guide to help teachers plan their lessons based on hitting certain standards on a weekly basis.  It’ll help everyone get a lot more organized and teach strategically.” -S.Alawy


“Great PD…an eye opener to unwrapping the standards and great lesson ideas that were compatible with standards that we are teaching.” -M.Abdulla

Strategies, Strategies, Strategies

This afternoon, Title I Resource Staff revisited the key elements of a language-rich interactive classroom by engaging in a variety of strategies tied to the common core state standards.  The strategies focused on developing speaking and listening skills, reading with a purpose and writing.  The strategies included the Oral Retelling Task, ABC Brainstorming, Academic Language Word Work, Structured Reading, Structured Writing using textual evidence and foldables.  To sum it up, they had lots of additions to their Strategy Toolboxes!


Here’s some feedback from our 3-2-1 Tickets Out:

3 things I learned are the importance of word work, setting clear content and language objectives and close reading.

2 things I will implement in my classroom are word work and more total response signals.

1 thing I wish is more PD on newcomer strategies!


3 things I learned are the word work activity, how to take the oral retelling task to writing, and new ideas to implement the strategies into different subject areas.

2 things that I want to implement into my class are word work and reading comprehension strategies.

1 thing I wish is more PD on any new strategies.  Thank you!  I love coming to these!


3 things I learned are word work activity, mini-book (foldable) and ABC brainstorm > from lower level to higher level tasks.

2 things I will implement are the ABC sort and word work.

I thing I wish is more PD on strategies for teaching higher level (depths of knowledge).