Resources

Fostering Positive School Cultures and Family Engagement for English Learners

Definition
The term school culture generally refers to the beliefs, perceptions, relationships, attitudes, and written and unwritten rules that shape and influence every aspect of how a school functions. The term is often extended to include more concrete issues like the physical and emotional safety of students, the orderliness of classrooms and public spaces, or the degree to which a school embraces and celebrates racial, ethnic, linguistic, or cultural diversity.
Underlying Principles
A welcoming, inclusive and safe school culture creates the foundation for successful students, educators and family members. School cultures that support and include English Learners (ELs) and their families are characterized by:
• Teachers that demonstrate knowledge of and respect for the backgrounds and cultures of the students and families living in their communities.
• Curriculum that incorporates multicultural perspectives and materials.
• Engaged families who are partners in their child’s education.
• Community connections that leverage and reinforce support for families.
Rationale
School culture results from both conscious and unconscious perspectives, values, interactions, and practices. Students, parents, teachers, administrators, and other staff members all contribute to their school’s culture, as do other influences such as the community in which the school is located, the policies that govern how it operates, or the principles upon which the school was founded.
Resources
Focus on Student-Led Conferencing
Where to Find Diverse Books. ‘We Need Diverse Books’ is a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.
Your Name is Key (Huda Essa). Huda Essa speaks about the power behind your name and ways in which learning names can support cultural inclusion.
Multicultural Literature. A site from Colorín Colorado featuring books representing diverse cultures and backgrounds, along with guidelines for selecting appropriate titles for libraries and classrooms.
Create a Welcoming Classroom. A site from Colorín Colorado featuring resources to create safe and positive learning environments for ELs.
Multiculturalism and the Culturally Diverse Curriculum. Shelly Terrell provides tips and resources for establishing school communities that recognize cultural diversity.

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