An antidote to loneliness

Even in noisy classrooms, busy hallways, and seas of faces, there are endless ways students might be lonely. Maybe they feel different, like they don’t quite belong. Perhaps they feel like they can’t contribute, that their voices and opinions don’t matter.  Some may feel like they can’t talk to anyone, at all.

Any child could feel these things, for any number of reasons. And having worked in ESL for many years now, I have come to see that multilingual language learners might be lonely in ways that are typically unexpected, in situations which otherwise might seem innocuous …

Perhaps loneliness might be born of listening to a class novel, read out loud by their teacher for 20 minutes … while the thrilling tale is open to all their classmates, it remains only a hum of disjointed sounds to the student just learning English.

Maybe loneliness finds them while staring confoundedly at a worksheet … devoid of illustrations and graphics, an intimidating wall of text stares back at them, crammed margin to margin with indecipherable script.

And loneliness might show itself at the sound of their classmates’ voices, at the sight of their hands raised … knowing that their peers are answering, participating, and understanding … while they themselves cannot.

This blight of isolation has an elixir, however. There is no one single recipe that produces this redeeming draught, but many educators know the basic ingredients. Luckily, my role affords me glimpses into this creative process, across many schools, in countless classrooms. School days, and weeks, and months reveal of a pinch of this, a dash of that, strong foundations, and ingenious combinations. Here’s a smattering of this years’ reimagined approaches:

A novel study, but with copies in multiple languages… so everyone is involved in the magic of the tale, and the meaningful exploration of related themes and topics afterwards.

A worksheet, dense script lightened by illustrations and open spaces, meaning unlocked through visuals and strategic translation, transforming that wall of text to an invitation, a welcoming-in.

A lesson, relevant to the lived experiences of students in the class, its ciphered speech slowly made comprehensible as teachers point to pictures of vocabulary they are talking about, visual clasps that fasten meaning to words … and the slight slowing of the voice as this happens, like stopping briefly on a stroll for a warm greeting.

As I’ve said before, each classroom is different, each teacher’s response tailored to the needs of the students before them. But each wonderful concoction has the same effect. And I never tire of seeing all the various ways our teaching can become that beautiful remedy, that antidote to loneliness.

Piece by piece

Last fall I wrote a blog entry about our union local’s efforts to identify The Missing Pieces in its office space, the things that may unintentionally inhibit members’ participation in union events and workshops. The HWETL Disabilities and Accessibility Issues Committee organized this initiative and came up with a one-question survey that we asked anonymously at all union events, in hopes of identifying barriers:

“Is there anything missing from this space that you need in order to have access to the same information, and the same opportunity to participate, as everyone else in the room?”

The answers we received were illuminating.

We got responses that spanned everything from lighting brightness, to speech amplification, to the amount of space between tables and in aisles. Some of the answers we did not anticipate … but isn’t that always the case? We cannot know how life unfolds for those whose experiences and identity we do not share.

And the union got to work right away, making changes to promote inclusion, just as we would in our classrooms. Making better spaces. 

And this process reaffirmed for me the importance of continuing to question things as they are, even if they seem “fine” to me. What is that saying? There are a great many things we know. And there are a great many things we don’t know. But there are even more things that we don’t know we don’t know.

So for now, this survey is a start. It is most definitely not an ending. Wishing all of us luck in discovering tomorrow what we do not know today, and making our students’ lives ever better for it.

kedd

I could hear her voice from the hall as I approached. It had the tone and cadence of a lesson that is going well, guiding students in a steady flow. I opened the door quietly. As I stepped inside the classroom the full volume of her words, amplified by the sound field system, suddenly surrounded me in an acoustic hug. And there she was at the front, wearing her mic headset, holding a book, and addressing the class. Her students were looking up at her, and then back to their desktops, engaged in the task she was explaining. Her words effortlessly transitioned from English to Hungarian, back and forth. The class was clearly used to hearing other languages in instruction, as evidenced by their intense focus on the activity, attending to her words with casual ease and unfazed expressions. This was, it seemed, a typical Tuesday for them.

While this teacher is fluent in Hungarian, I have also seen her use greetings and phrases in other languages too. And whenever a Multilingual Language Learner joins her class, she always welcomes them, and fully includes them in learning. It shows, too. Her new Hungarian-speaking student was all smiles. 

What an inspiring example of a multilingual learning environment, where first language is used to review and teach content. Where it is used for communication, expression, and connection. In a classroom where it is normal to hear and recognize the value of other languages. 

It is wonderful happenstance that this teacher can speak the same language as her new student. But there are many strategies teachers can use even if they do not have a language in common with the MLLs in their class. For a quick list of high-yield, low prep strategies that enable MLLs to follow whole-class lessons, my blog entry Let that be a lesson for everyone goes over some of the main ones. And for a description of these strategies in action in an actual lesson, Beginner ESL Class: Fluid Dynamics and Bernoulli’s Principle showcases another amazing teacher’s efforts to make her whole-class lessons accessible to all students, regardless of English language proficiency. 

When I think of both these educators, when I picture their lessons in my mind, I see the ways in which their teaching included students who might otherwise have sat in lonely silence. Their efforts ensured that the opposite occurred. And so, in the languages of their new students, Gracias, شكرًا لك, Köszönöm.

The loneliest time

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to teach overseas. I was hired as an assistant for public school English teachers, half a world away; my role was to team-teach grade 6-8 English classes with them. Each day was an adventure in which I learned more and more about this new country I was living in: how their school system operated, traditions and cultural norms, and what it was like to live in a place where I could not easily understand and communicate with others — sometimes at all. 

While each day came and went with many blessings (mostly in the form of kindnesses from kind people) life in another language could be flat-out hard —and sometimes lonely. And there was one part of every day that was lonelier than all the others …

It wasn’t back at my tiny apartment in the evening, when it was only me and nightly chores before sleep.

It wasn’t on solo train rides to work, crammed in with countless strangers, all of us silently looking down at books or phones or hands folded in laps.

It was the 15-minute morning staff meeting.

It always took place in the staff room, which was very different from the ones I was used to in Ontario. Here, staff rooms were filled with large, identical teacher desks, arranged into three groups down the length of the room. There were exactly six desks to each group, one for each of the teachers of that grade.  Seating within the group went strictly by order of seniority. This particular year I was assigned to the grade 6 group, and my desk was right at the end. 

And so each morning I would walk down the school’s corridor, slide open the staff room door, and get ready for the daily meeting. A chorus of “good mornings” would ring out, as was customary whenever anyone entered. Although summer months were scorching, the winter was chilly. On colder mornings a tall kerosene heater stood in the middle of the room, a large kettle perched precariously on top for the teachers’ tea. As the only source of heat in the room, it inevitably drew people near it, to chat and commiserate about the temperature. These social greetings and light conversations were usually within my language grasp, and were a nice start to the day. And the English teachers I worked with were there too, so I could always chat with them in English. 

But as the meeting time approached, everyone made their way back to their desks. The vice principal and principal sat at the front of the room, and in this way would call the morning meeting to order. We all stood up together, and once we had formally called out our greeting in unison, the vice principal would begin to speak.

And here is why those 15 minutes were the loneliest of my day …

I was surrounded by colleagues who understood every word the vice principal uttered. As the meeting progressed, I could see teachers nod, raise their eyebrows, exclaim, suddenly check handouts, all in response to his flowing speech. But to me it was just a continuous droning, a string of unintelligible sounds. Handouts filled with indecipherable characters.

Occasionally I would catch a phrase or two, though. Basketball at 5 o’clock. Exams next week. After-school clubs. And each time I did, a glimmer of hope would spark inside me, and I would strain to make sense of what he was saying. But the advanced vocabulary, intricate grammar patterns, and speed of delivery made it almost impossible to glean much else from his message. 

The pace of the meetings was snappy, designed to quickly impart information and get on with the day. Before I knew it, papers were shuffled and stacked, chairs pushed in, and teachers on the move to the first classes. On a couple of occasions, everyone left so abruptly I was worried I may have missed an evacuation notice. 

It was a jolting experience for me. Words had always been a vital source of connection to others, a source of expression and belonging. Now they only thing they brought was isolation. Everyone in that room understood what was being said. But not me. Everyone in that room could contribute. But I could not. Everyone in that room belonged. I did not feel as though I did. Not during the meeting, anyway. I may as well have been invisible.

And of course, none of this was was anyone’s intention. I was welcomed warmly and treated well by many colleagues, and had some of the best teaching experiences of my life. It was just that the days were moving along as they always had, with no one really aware of how isolating and uncertain that little part of it was for me, not realizing the erasure that can come with not understanding what is being said. 

And I always think of those 15 long minutes when I consider instruction for multilingual language learners.  Except instead of 15 minutes, they have an entire school day stretched out in front of them. Which is why I am so thankful for dedicated teachers who do all that they can to make sure these students are included: that they are not sitting in silence, unaware of what is being said; that they have access to the lessons and ideas and information that everyone else does; that they have a means of contributing. In every class, it looks a little bit different, and a little bit the same. Some teachers take a few extra seconds to translate the lesson topic for the students before it starts, so students know in advance what the teacher will be talking about. Some have pictures up, in every lesson, that they point to as they speak. Some have translated and adapted worksheets, so that MLLs have access to the same rich curriculum content and class work as everyone else. Some use sentence starters and stems for the whole class, so that speaking in groups becomes structured and achievable for MLLs. 

I could fill a page with strategies and supports I have seen educators use to chip away at the barriers that MLLs face, that instead draw them into the learning community. But for now, please accept this blog entry as a little love letter to all of those educators who make sure every student is included and heard. Because if even one child is not understanding the way they deliver that lesson, those teachers change the way they deliver their lesson. Relentlessly. 

And yet again, I must concluded with a familiar quote, which always seems to perfectly reflect what these educators know:

“Inclusion is not bringing people into what already exists; it is making a new space, a better space, for everyone.”

– George Dei 

Beginner ESL Class: Fluid Dynamics and Bernoulli’s Principle

OK, not the topic we generally envision when planning instruction for students new to English. Nonetheless, this is exactly the lesson a classroom teacher and I planned for her STEP 1 MLLs a couple of weeks ago.

Ah, I can hear my teachers-college self exclaiming from 1998: “What?? How?!? This topic is advanced, with complex language! Don’t students new to English need simple topics to start? Is there an ESL workbook anywhere?”

Sigh.

Well, Diane of Yesteryear, you’ll be happy to know that we have had the good fortune to work with Multilingual Language Learners quite a bit in our career, and the equally-good fortune to collaborate with dedicated ESL colleagues and educators. Here’s a bit of the learning that happened along the way:

We learned that even if MLLs have a withdrawal instruction period each day, there are roughly 5 additional periods in the day that they have with their full class. That’s 5 periods of math, science, music, health, history, geography, Language, phys ed, or French …

We learned that MLLs need access to grade-level curriculum content and learning, just like everyone else …

We learned that just because English language ability is in the beginner stages, that doesn’t mean background knowledge, skill, and ability is …

We learned that MLLs consistently tell us that they want to contribute in class, belong, talk with their friends, and understand the lessons happening around them …

And finally, we learned there are effective ways to do all of that.

So.  Here’s how we taught fluid dynamics and Bernoulli’s principle to an entire grade 6 science class, in a way that meaningfully included the teacher’s STEP 1 MLLs. And bear in mind, I was present for the initial planning stages and one in-class support support session. Kudos to this teacher for the amazing program she developed for her students.

The classroom teacher and I briefly discussed the curriculum, in which students learn about the four forces of flight and Bernoulli’s principle. We located two educational science videos on the topic, one in Arabic and one in Spanish as these were the students’ first languages (what did we ever do before YouTube?). Using simple English and some strategic translation, we told them we were learning how airplanes fly. I took the students aside briefly and showed them the videos, to pre-teach content in first language. The classroom teacher then gave the entire class a picture word bank of key vocabulary related to the unit: flight, lift, drag, thrust, weight, air, pressure … Each of us worked with the MLLs to practice the terms, in English and first language. And the pedagogical bonus of having visual word banks such as these? They can be projected or posted during whole-class lessons. The whole class (not just MLLs) can then warm up each day by chorally repeating key terms attached to visuals – a quick 30-second focus and review exercise for everyone that has the added advantage of giving MLLs critical speaking and listening practice with target English vocabulary. These types of visuals are also great for pointing to throughout the lesson, allowing MLLs to more easily follow what the teacher is explaining. Finally, students had sentence starters and stems to write and speak about what they learned, in English and first language.

And learn they did.

When I returned, the teacher showed me how the week had progressed, with these few simple strategies. The students had sketched and labelled diagrams of the forces of flight, as all of their classmates had. They had practiced the same vocabulary the other students did. They had written simple sentences with support to describe the four forces, and they had accurately demonstrated through visuals, gestures, and first language their understanding of how those forces worked.

Have I mentioned lately that teachers are superheroes? Because when I think about lessons such as these, with the access to curriculum knowledge, the belonging and inclusion, the learning of English vocabulary (just a few terms and sentence starters each day, but adding up over time), I am reminded of the dedication that abounds in this profession, that inevitably leads to student success.

Take that, ESL workbook.

West

My West end schools are a joy these days. A fair number of junior and intermediate students have arrived recently, all new to English, and many with solid literacy skills in their first language. Teachers stop to chat in the halls, excitedly telling me about the latest science project, or writing assignment, or music class, in which they have used first language to enable students to learn curriculum and English and, critically, to help them maintain and develop their first languages. Classrooms are filled with multilingual writing, and every time I lean over and read a student’s work, I learn a little more about what they can do, and wonder what else is around the corner. 

As many ESL teachers have noted, student writing reveals a lot, even if you do not understand the language of the writing. Sometimes, a paper on a desk in an empty classroom can speak volumes … I love it when I find a story, or an essay, for example. Paragraph after paragraph, the steady flow of sentences, the well-formed letters, the crisply-accurate capitals and punctuation …all can suggest awareness of form, convention, and fluidity of thought. Looking at compositions such as these, it is apparent the student can do so much more than their beginner work in English can reveal — for now. Or sometimes it is short notes in first language that I see, written above English vocabulary on a math problem or science experiment … the brisk dashes in the student’s writing suggesting that, perhaps, they used a translation tool or teacher support for an unknown word, quickly jotting down the meaning before moving on to the next section, learning English naturally as they engage with curriculum. And sometimes, I am lucky enough to see a student in action, engaged in the process of writing … pausing to think, to erase, to edit, to look up words … evidence of the ability to proofread and revise.

When a student is just learning English for the first time, and using only simple writing skills as they begin their journey, these first language writings offer a window into the complexity of their thoughts and skills. And as I said at the beginning, it is a joy to see their colourful voices on the page, the full spectrum of their capabilities and resourcefulness in evidence. 

East

In an earlier blog entry, I spoke about those wonderful little moments I have witnessed over the years, snapshots in time of students’ learning, insights, and growth. But the inspiring memories that stay with me through the years are not only of my students. As I’ve said many times before, one of the perks of my job is getting to work with teachers across our board. And as a result, there are a number of wonderful snapshot moments I have of them as well. 

I’d like to share two such moments with you.

I will begin in the East. 

A teacher at one of my East end schools had emailed me early in the fall about adaptations for two of her new students, both new to Canada and new to English. With a jam-packed schedule and never-ending cycle of to-do lists, she somehow managed to find time to meet with me. She outlined the units she was doing with the class and, after sharing some initial ideas, we agreed that intentional teaching and recycling of vocabulary needed for their lessons would best help the students access curriculum and acquire the English needed to do so.  We made plans to reconnect the next week, and she would begin some of the initial vocabulary work in the meantime. 

I returned as planned the following Friday, to help pre-teach some of the words that would be repeatedly used whole-class lessons. As I approached the classroom, I could see the teacher was already waiting for me. 

She had an expression on her face I have seen many times before.  It is at once focused, hopeful … and slightly concerned. She was holding some papers and when she saw me, instantly asked, “Is this ok? This is what they did.”

Now here is the snapshot that will stay with me. I glanced down at worksheet in her hands and saw it was part of the class’s poetry unit.  I could see the list of adjectives all students had brainstormed for their diamanté poems, as well as verbs and other descriptors. And next to each one, her students had written the adjectives in first language. Connected to a single theme, the words created a chain of beautiful description down the page. In Arabic. In Spanish. In English. 

brave, strong    شجاع وقوي   valiente, fuerte …

The beginnings of poetic multilingual creations …

When I had spoken to the teacher the previous week, she had been concerned about including all of her students in the unit, and making sure there was an entry point for multilingual language learners. It seemed to me she had achieved that aim and more. Yet when I looked up from that magnificent sheet, I still saw slight worry in her expression.

I am always surprised when teachers who are so clearly dedicated to their students, who tirelessly try new and innovative approaches, who help students produce such personal, exceptional work … sometimes they seem worried that it is not enough, and continually reflect on their practice to create even more opportunities for students. 

But I suppose that is what all good educators do. And if, as Robert Gilfillan observed, poetry is truth dwelling in beauty, then the snapshot of student learning I saw that day was poetry indeed. 

 Next, I head to the West …

Introductions

One of the most beautiful introductions I have witnessed happened on an ordinary fall day. I had word that a new student would be joining one of my schools, and I remember walking into the office that morning and seeing a girl sitting next to her mother. Her name was Mariam* and she had just arrived in Canada. And as I worked with her over the next year, I learned just what this bright and resourceful student was capable of. Despite having had the opportunity to attend only one year of school in her home country, she was literate in Arabic. And despite the fact that she was just learning English for the first time, she was able to quickly grasp curriculum concepts taught visually and with strategic translation, and demonstrate her knowledge in a host of ingenious ways.

But as I say, I was to learn all of this over the coming weeks and months. The first day of school, in a new country, surrounded by strangers and an unfamiliar language, she was understandably uncertain and worried.

With the help of an interpreter, we explained some of the daily routines, and gave her a tour of the school. We showed her where we would take her to be picked up by her mother at the end of the day, the washrooms, the drinking fountain. Several students had already eagerly asked if they could be her friend, and when she walked into her classroom for the first time with us, the entire class smiled and welcomed her.

But I could see that she was overwhelmed. And really, who wouldn’t be? The scary situations some children have navigate each day might make most of us adults freeze up in panic. Yet Mariam carried on. She walked to her desk and sat down, but when the attention of her classmates again focused on the teacher, I could see her quietly brushing away tears. 

The girl sitting across from her noticed as well. Her name was Ellie*, and she said something reassuring in English but realized Mariam could not understand. I saw her pause, then look around until she spotted one of the class iPads on the table next to her. She took it, and began typing. For the next couple of minutes, I saw her hunched over the iPad in unwavering concentration, looking back and forth from the screen to her paper, onto which she was copying something. Finally she straightened up, looked at her paper one final time, and then passed it across the desk to Mariam.

Mariam hesitantly took the paper, and when she saw what was written on it, her entire expression changed in an instant. A smile like sunshine brightened across her face, creating a change in countenance so rapid and complete anyone walking in at that moment would assume she had been having nothing but a blast all morning. 

I looked over at Ellie’s iPad and saw that she had been using Google Translate. She had typed in English “My name is” and then copied the translation of that phrase, the wobbly and earnest Arabic letters proudly centered in the middle of the paper. At the end of her carefully-copied script, she wrote her own name in English. 

اسمي هو Ellie.

My name is Ellie. Said in a different way than usual, but all the more beautiful for it. Since Arabic reads right to left, the name “Ellie” was placed at the wrong end of the sentence. But Mariam knew what she meant. 

Needless to say, a friendship was born. 

And this introduction is just one of seemingly endless examples of the importance of first language in the classroom and the power it has, sometimes, to make all the difference. 

*names have been changed 

 

`

The Universal Translator

Those of you familiar with Star Trek lore will undoubtedly have heard of one of its most auspicious pieces of technology: the Universal Translator. Whenever Kirk and his crew, or later Picard and his, encountered someone in their interplanetary travels whose language they did not speak, nary a beat was missed. The aptly-named universal translator would kick in, instantly changing the language the other person was speaking into a language understood by the crew. Usually English. As a die-hard trek fan myself, I always wanted to hear a little more Vulcan or Klingon than the show allowed. But the technology did its job, allowing seamless communication and enabling everyone to carry on exactly as they always had, exploring strange new worlds, boldly going to them in the process.

But why am I bringing up a science fiction show of my youth, in an education blog dedicated to pedagogical issues of today?  Because the “universal translator” is becoming more of a reality in our world — and not always in a good way.

Don’t get me wrong. I am the first to marvel at the ways certain translation tools have opened up new possibilities for students and teachers alike. Students can strategically check the definitions of English words they need in learning curriculum and communicating with others. They can also do the same thing in reverse: if they know an English word but are unsure of what it is in their home language they can check that as well, the translation tool helping a bit to maintain and expand first language. Teachers can strategically use apps to translate simple definitions, vocabulary, short class assignments and even parts of worksheets, making content and goals more accessible to students learning English. 

But the key descriptor in all of the above instances is “strategic”. And effective translation is just that: focused, planned, and intentional. I have seen educators deftly use strategic translation to facilitate the learning of curriculum as well as the language students need to negotiate it. Rather than a wholesale conversion of every word uttered or written in the school day (as folks on a certain science fiction show would have it), the key parts are illuminated for students, allowing growth, learning, and inclusion.

So when determining the most effective ways to use the translation tools at our disposal, I always think back to those Star Trek episodes, to the good old Universal Translator that allows things to just ‘carry on as usual’ and ask myself, “Is the way this tool works trying to change the student into someone who understands me, so I can carry on as usual? Or is the tool allowing me to change myself and my instruction, so students can learn language and curriculum?” 

To elaborate on this statement, I offer the wise advice shared with me by ESL educators over the years, as I was learning effective (and not-so-effective) ways to use various tools: to avoid blanket-translation of lessons and interactions (such as running auto-generated first language subtitles under a lesson or conversation in real time with no other adaptations, or simply speaking into a voice-translation app to have a conversation with a student). First, these translation apps are not perfect, and errors abound in the accuracy and intelligibility of translation. Second, it is exhausting to read subtitles for the length of a lesson (or six!). Third, if absolutely everything is translated to first language, how are students learning English? How is the language of instruction being scaffolded for them? And finally, wholesale translation without other forms of scaffolding and language support is isolating. How can a student belong and contribute to class learning when they are desperately trying to read subtitles or are plugged into auto-translate headphones?

For a list of quick and effective strategies that can be used in combination with strategic translation, that scaffold English and enable MLLs to participate in curriculum tasks, I have summarized some of the critical ones in my blog entry Let that be a lesson for everyone. And although these strategies are intended for MLLs, they often enhance and amplify instruction for everyone. 

A noble goal.  And, as ever, I wish you all the best of luck in making it so. 

Snapshots

It is no secret that teaching can bring about the most wonderful moments, and I love the ones that come out of nowhere. You know the kind I mean. They last only a second or two. They are over almost as quickly as they began, but their sudden and unexpected beauty lingers long afterward. And when I reflect on them, some come back with such clarity it seems as though they happened yesterday. 

Over two decades in teaching has allowed me to accumulate many such memories, little snapshots in time of students’ insights and identities, talents and kindnesses. When I recall them, it is in no particular order. After some time has passed, I can never remember what happened just before a particular memory … no idea what happened right after. But those fleeting moments gifted to me stay happily cobbled together in a patchwork of images, a colourful tapestry reminding me of all the joyful moments that have occurred in my schools over the years.

This fall, a few new multilingual images have been added to that happy medley.

The first one happened a couple of weeks ago, right after morning yard duty. The bell had just rung, and the tableau of students playing in the field at once turned to unified running, as they streamed in a single direction towards their class lines. The bell also prompted my thoughts to switch ahead to the morning’s tasks … an assessment, a meeting with a new family and an interpreter, emails I had to return …

As I walked briskly toward the school doors, thoughts preoccupied with all of the above, I noticed a class walking towards me. The teacher was leading them at the head of the line, each student carrying their backpacks and books along behind her. It must have been that my gaze was turned down a bit against the wind, for my eye caught something bright and colourful under one student’s arm. The lettering on the front was bold, balanced … the shape of the script suggesting a hint of direction and movement.  As I drew closer I could see it was hangul, the Korean letter system (which, by the way, was designed with very specific movement and direction in mind … if you want to look it up, it is a beautiful creation story).  The student was walking confidently, his book for class tucked proudly under his arm.  

And that is the snapshot that comes back to me now, that lifted my spirits out of morning routines to a little bit of delight. There was a time, many decades ago, that it was uncommon to see multilingual books in schools. Where it was presupposed that English was the only language that needed to be developed, maintained, and used in instruction. Where first languages — the languages in which parents comfort children, in which children sing and play, in which identity resides — were disregarded as irrelevant to learning in school. 

What is that Jim Cummins quote again? 

It is hard to argue that we are teaching the whole child when school policy dictates that students leave their language and culture at the school house door.1 

Indeed, the benefits of meaningful inclusion of home languages in learning are vast; the consequences if they are omitted, devastating. (I discussed some of these benefits and consequences in my blog Lost in Translation, if you want a quick summary). 

The line of flapping backpacks and scuffling running shoes rounded the corner, and I was left with that ordinary-extraordinary memory. And I hoped that those school house doors would continue to be thrown wide open. 

 1   from the article “ELL Students Speak for Themselves: Identity Texts and Literacy Engagement in Multilingual Classrooms” (Cummins et al, 2006).