“Given the appropriate environment, two languages are as normal as two lungs” (Cook 2002:23).
As schools reopen in September it is a time to rebuild, rebadge (in some cases e.g. academies) and rethink. In many cases I believe it is the ethos of the school led from the head through the senior managers that makes a place succeed. I challenge you all to rethink using the quote above as your guide. Question whether your environment does encourage your children’s development and learning as well as bridging the gap effectively between the first and second language in the case of new arrivals and EAL learners, Many I guess will say yes in an instant, but review and reflect as to whether it is. Does your environment and ethos allow for mistakes to be made in a safe, no blame classroom , school and playground?
Everyone when learning makes mistakes what happens next is what makes the difference.
As a teacher do you blame and chastise until the learner feels unable to try again (we all hope we don’t but what does happen when we are having a bad day?).
For the learners do we encourage them to try and try again supporting them to move forward? Do we look for different way to teach the concept or topic or just shout louder or worse still tell everyone that they are not capable and don’t try ?
Do you use a wide variety of tools including technology and resources to suit the situation or do you simply say I have a dictionary in my classroom and a TA that speaks e.g. Polish and that is all they need.
Do you ask and suggest training that ensures all you or staff in the teams that you work in support and develop the learning environment that you want to create?
Do you ask for help when you need it? Do you ask the pupils and staff whether it is being achieved or do you sit there in blinkers convinced all is well until OFSTED/ESTYN comes in and lets you know otherwise?
If you are one of the lucky ones who has it right in your classroom then share it with others so that everyone at the school achieves.