Teachers working with young students who are learning English as a second language already have to fight through several barriers. The COVID-19 pandemic added another.

Whether educating in person or virtually, as so many are because of the coronavirus, Istation bilingual professional development specialists Julie Robinson and Michele Kimball see plenty of challenges ahead for teachers in the young school year.

One question teachers have is how students are progressing. While, in person, a puzzled look may come across a student’s face or a child may ask a question to show they don’t comprehend the material, that’s less likely over an online platform.

“I think some of the biggest struggles will be as an educator going, ‘OK, do they understand what I asked them to do? How can I really do those checks for understanding?’,” Robinson said. “When I’m in my classroom, I can see that look on their face that they’re lost or get a thumbs up or thumbs down or where are you at on this scale … It’s really hard to do that when you’ve given them an assignment or are expecting them to work offline.”

Istation’s platform can help teachers gather and utilize data to help with something that may be lost in translation.

“When we do trainings for teachers around Istation … we’re also building teachers’ structural capacity to support them, so when they get to looking at their data, they have a set of guiding questions that will help them make instructional decisions on where to start and where to go next with each child,” Kimball said.

That would include, for example, looking at how each child is progressing through the five critical areas of English reading for which Istation screens.

It’s a resource that can help during a time when all aid possible is necessary.

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