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Looking back to face what is ahead: District strategies to engage with English learner students, students with disabilities, and their families

August 30, 2021

This public television program focuses on research-based evidence related to student and family engagement and changes in learning supports through the pandemic. The program presents strategies and promising practices used by two Illinois districts—Hoover-Schrum Memorial School District 157 in Calumet City and J. Sterling Morton High School District 201 in Cicero—to support students with disabilities and English learner students during the pandemic and into the future. The program presents research on evidence-based practices related to student learning needs, such as structured learning time and peer learning and small-group tutoring, as well as family engagement strategies, such as school–family communication and outreach, electronic reading tools, and other tools to support parent and/or guardian engagement in their children’s distance learning.

This documentary features researchers Patricia Garcia-Arena, PhD, and Dia Jackson, PhD, who discuss research on practices to connect with families and engage English learner students and students with disabilities in their learning. The researchers also highlight promising strategies for engaging these student groups as they transition back to in-person instruction. In addition, the program features the perspectives of district and school leaders, as well as teachers who primarily work with English learner students and students with disabilities. These educators discuss strategies they plan to use to connect with students and families as school begins in fall 2021 and students re-engage with learning. The interviewees also reflect on the transition back to in-person learning and discuss how the strategies can be applied across learning environments.

REL Midwest also produced a documentary viewing guide [672 KB] PDF icon that is available for download.