Today, I spent the day re-learning about SLIFE: Students with limited or interrupted formal education.
From the beginning the presenters were quite clear that we should be working from the opposite of a deficit model approach to learning. I’ve seen a couple of terms for this: Abundance based; strengths based.
It seemed odd to me, though, that the “SLIFE” term even has kind of deficit terms embedded…
After it was all over, I had a chance to talk to presenters Andrea and Helaine, though, and they said that they were actually trying to get away from talking about SLIFE and more about culturally responsive teaching.
That’s really where the conversation should be.
Do we know our students? Are we culturally aware of their challenges and strengths?
Partner teacher Suzy and I have been working to create a presentation on why we need a dropout prevention coach for ELL students. We as a department have been asking for a dedicated guidance counselor, but we really need more than that. We need someone who really knows these kids and why they do what they do.
Partner teacher Suzy is the FBI. She asks all the right questions, and the students know that and trust her and answer.
And we need someone to stem the tide. Because the kind of teaching we do now is not culturally responsive. We think we are teaching them to be responsible adults, but when you don’t grow up in this culture with the same privileges, the same tactics just don’t work.