Educators Cite Social and Emotional Learning as Biggest Hurdle in Supporting English Learners

We recently released our EL Education Report, which surveyed educators about the biggest challenges associated with effectively supporting English learners (ELs). English learners are the fastest growing student population in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Education, there were 4.8 million ELs enrolled in the 2014–15 school year, which is 10% of the total K-12 population. This is reflected in the results of our report: 50% of teachers and administrators say that EL student enrollment and access to EL instructional resources have increased in the past five years.

Changing classroom demographics inevitably bring new student needs and classroom challenges. Educators who serve ELs must find a way to support their academic growth while also creating a classroom environment where students feel respected and valued. According to our survey, this second piece is particularly important: both teachers and administrators cited social and emotional learning challenges as the biggest hurdle for EL students.

Many educators are already turning to existing research and identified best practices to provide ELs with the social and emotional supports specific to their needs. Laura Lukens, ELL Coordinator for North Kansas City Schools, focuses on trauma-informed practices. In this article for eSchool News she explained: “We are looking to create an environment where school becomes a place of order and dependability, and where students know what to expect, so they can focus on learning.”

Research on the best approaches to SEL for ELs is still emerging and will likely continue to grow as educators work to support such a diverse group of students. We encourage to dive deeper into our EL Education Report to discover other trends, gaps, and successes in EL education — for a sneak peak into the insights you can expect to gather from the report, check out what the surveyed educators had to say about effective instructional activities:

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