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Creating a Welcoming Environment for All Students

First Impressions

The beginning of the school year offers a prime opportunity to establish a welcoming environment for all students. From the moment students walk into our schools, we begin building the trust necessary to forge relationships that support academic progress. 

For English learners with varying linguistic and cultural backgrounds, the stakes are even higher. A lack of language proficiency may mask skills and passions, while differences in school culture may cause anxiety among newcomers. Given these very common circumstances, what steps can schools take in order to immediately establish that linguistic and cultural diversity are assets to be celebrated rather than challenges to be overcome? 

Welcoming by Design

We spoke with Maira Méndez Rodriguez of Lincoln High School in Lincoln, Nebraska about how her team has designed and implemented systems to foster a welcoming environment for a student body that collectively speaks over 30 different languages. As an Instructional Coordinator, Maira works closely with the ELL team made up of counselors, advocates, bilingual liaisons, teachers and other district staff to ensure all students have the support they need from the moment they arrive.  

Listen and Learn

  • Design and implement systems to foster a welcoming environment for linguistically and culturally diverse students.
  • Ensure that all students, including ELs and newcomers, have access to a wide variety of courses.
  • Identify cultural liaisons who can promote community engagement and potentially become future teacher candidates.

Engage More Deeply

Over 50 episodes from three seasons of Highest Aspirations are available free wherever you listen to podcasts. Be sure to subscribe so you never miss a new episode!