This question has been asked a time or two (hundred...thousand…). Seriously though. In districts around our nation some ESL teachers are considered part of the intervention team while others are not. Why is this important?
Merriam Webster’s definition of intervention:
a : the act of interfering with the outcome or course especially of a condition or process (as to prevent harm or improve functioning)
To clarify, ...
....people (even the little ones) who are learning English do not have a condition. We are not interfering with a process to prevent harm or improve functioning. On the other hand we are providing students a service to add English to their language repertoire.
The word intervene implies coming between and halting. This deficit based stance communicates to stakeholders that there is something wrong that needs to be “fixed”. In essence, as ESL teachers, we are not intervening between a student’s primary language and English. Our goal is to use the student’s current literacy from their primary language as a leverage to build English proficiency. We are adding.
If you are finding yourself or your team in a place where ESL is “labeled” as part of an intervention group, you might consider ways to flip the script. One thing you can do is simply to initiate the conversation with campus and/or administrators. Start by asking to meet. Discuss your team’s vision and goals. (For more on Branding Your Team: Creating a Positive Reputation, Click Here) Then move into your request. Keep in mind that they way you open the discuss is often as important as what you say. Think about how you will frame the talk.
“Have we considered…”
“Perhaps we could try…”
As advocates for the students we teach, it’s critical to showcase them from an assets-based lens. Sometimes that means having difficult conversations. But always it means doing what’s best for students.