Empowering English Language Learners with Pamela Broussard

Join Pamela Broussard, a multilingual educator and advocate, as she unpacks empowering strategies to enhance student engagement while building student independence and confidence. Broussard shares insights from her Leading ELLs Facebook group, which promotes resource-sharing among educators. She exemplifies a commitment to inclusion, hands-on learning, and encourages new teachers to diversify resources and methods.

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Pamela Broussard: [00:00:00] Where do you start? So I’m like, and those guys who are up in those offices love coming back in a classroom. They love to be invited. It’s not, you may not be able to do it tomorrow, but they want to put on your schedule. So I was just always trying to find out how do you do this? What do you do? And so I started a school with a high multi minority population and did that, which began to open up my world to multicultural things.

I also have a passion for cultures and diversity. And so as I traveled, as I spent time, I did some missionary work and different things. I became a peace fellow and just really seeing things from around the world. And so that’s how it started. I’ve been doing this for 35 years. Those of us who’ve been in a long time, you hear the pendulum swing, you heard the terms.

We did social emotional learning before I had a name. I called it Loving Kids. You know, it was really a fancy name. So there’s all these different kinds of things where you’re like, Oh, this is the latest. Okay, last time, 25 years ago, it was called this. And so just wanting to be better, wanting to know [00:01:00] more, wanting to learn about this culture, that culture.

What’s a difference? And that became my passion and today it still is. And I think learning about the cultures and learning about Backgrounds and perspectives is a secret weapon that very few teachers really employ. 

Justin Hewett: Hey everybody, welcome to the ML chat podcast. Today is a pretty amazing day. We got to speak with Pamela Broussard.

Pamela is the founder of the leading ELL Facebook group and does a lot of professional development in addition to being a, an English learner teacher, Mandy, this was an amazing interview. I feel like we say that a lot, but like this one blew me away. 

Mandi Morris: This conversation with Pamela left me feeling speechless.

She brought so much. Experience and was just buzzing with incredible ways of building relationship, [00:02:00] connecting with your students, highlighting the importance of laying that foundation. It was incredible. 

Justin Hewett: Yeah, it really was one of those conversations where you just want to sit down with your notepad at night.

Write down your ideas, write down your notes, figure out how am I going to implement this? This is such a great idea. A lot of times I feel like advice you might hear or ideas that people share are so theoretical and they’re hard to actually go implement. One of the things that really stands out about Everything really that Pamela shared is how practical it was and how immediately you could go use it in your classroom.

And she even says that she says, yeah, what does it look like on Monday morning? Like, how do I use this on Monday morning when we’re coming back from the weekend? And I just thought that was really a valuable perspective and just. Every single piece of wisdom and ideas felt like someone could take it back to their classroom today.

Mandi Morris: And as she said, she’s been doing it for 35 years. So keeping [00:03:00] that in mind that you can take something and you can start with it. And she even said, you’re not going to do all of the things every day, all year long. Pick a thing and do it to build relationships, to help your students find identity in your classroom and be heard and be valued on your campus.

So I love how she grounded in that. Pick a thing and do it. Get started with it. 

Justin Hewett: I love it. And, and this, the leading ELL Facebook group is a tremendous resource for any educators working with multilingual students. If you have a Facebook account, I think you can go and be a part of that. I think you have to be admitted to it.

I don’t know if you need to click for an invitation or how that works or to be admitted to it, but go find it, go use it. We’ll put a link in the show notes for this, but you are going to love this conversation today that Mandy and I got to have with Pamela Broussard. Let’s get into it. Pamela Broussard is a passionate keynote speaker, [00:04:00] presenter, and secondary New Arrivals Center teacher from Houston, Texas.

She has more than 30 years of teaching experience ranging from elementary to master’s degree prep courses. She’s taught regular ed, special ed, our multilingual learners, ESL, EL, ML. She’s taught SLIFE students and New Arrivals. She has taught in the USA and abroad. In addition to teaching, she is Rotary International Peace Fellow.

She has traveled to more than 35 countries, including working in Afghanistan for seven years. She’s also spent time in refugee camps, war zones, Orphanages, trash heaps, and human trafficking zones. All of these experiences and trainings have given her a wealth of experience with social emotional learning, cultural responsive teaching, and trauma informed teaching.

And when she’s not teaching, you can find her with hands covered in paint, glue stuck to her fingers, and collage supplies across her desk doing art. Pamela is also the [00:05:00] founder of Leading ELLs. Pamela, welcome to the ML chat podcast. We are so thrilled to have you here with us today. 

Pamela Broussard: It is an honor and a privilege to be here.

So thank you for inviting me. I’m looking forward to this for a while. Hey, 

Justin Hewett: so have we, you have done so much for our EL community and for those that are maybe not quite as familiar with lead leading ELLs, maybe tell us just a little bit about it so people can have a little more background about all of the work you’re doing through 

Pamela Broussard: that.

Yes, a few years ago. I’m not even sure how long it’s been. Maybe four years, five years. I found I was working really in isolation and there was just my campus and my district and I didn’t have anyone else. I was just so this is the way and I was like, there has to be other people to, Have other ideas that I could learn from.

And so I thought if I could get 20 people to talk to, I would be thrilled. And today, I think there’s 14, 000, um, multilingual teachers from around the world, predominantly in the United States [00:06:00] in a Facebook group called Leading ELLs. It’s just a platform to share ideas, to get help, to ask questions, to be vulnerable and just say, Hey, what do I do about this?

Anybody got a resource on that? And it’s just a positive place to support teachers doing the work. And administrators as well. So that’s been going in from that and people. Well, to, uh, have people trained. So then I started my business and I also do presenting, making, and things like that, um, through leading ELLs and I have a website as well.

Justin Hewett: And the website is leading ELLs. com. In addition, that is also the name of the Facebook group, right? Yes. 

Pamela Broussard: Everything that I do is, has the leading ELLs is the title. So Twitter, Facebook, my webpage and all that. 

Justin Hewett: Perfect. Great alignment. I love it. I I’m, I’m curious about feeling that you were working in isolation, right?

Cause this is pre COVID. If you go back four or five years ago, this is 2019 probably, or sometime around there. Why do you think you’re experiencing that? And do you think [00:07:00] that’s something that a lot of teachers and educators are Experience around the nation. 

Pamela Broussard: Absolutely. I think so. I was teaching a newcomer center, so I did not know anyone else except our district doing it at the time.

And I was like, is there anybody else out there who else had a friend of mine told me, Oh, there’s this lady named Carol Salva, which a lot of people in the ML community would know her. And so I got connected and she’s like, why don’t you go for it? Why don’t you just try and put it out there? And I thought she’s a little crazy.

Carol’s a dear friend of mine. I love her dearly. And I thought, okay, I’ll put that out there. But I think if you look across the United States, oftentimes the people working with students learning English, there’s usually one per campus or two. And then depending on some, even per district, depending how small your district is, um, or, or even your campuses, you could be the only one at your job doing it.

And sometimes it’s not so comfortable to ask your boss, um, or sometimes your boss has only. One [00:08:00] way of doing it. And you’re like, is there any other way? And that really pushed me to go, I think there’s gotta be some other things I could do and other ways I could learn. And I just, I wanted to keep learning.

I wanted to see who else was out there. And I think a lot of people in our programs, um, are working in isolation. So Facebook group is a great place or an online group of any kind to build community and to feel you’re not alone. And then those people become your dearest friends, even if you’ve never met and because they’re helping you and to do the work.

So it’s nice. It’s nice to have a community. Pamela, you 

Mandi Morris: talked about teachers feeling like they’re teaching in isolation, and sometimes teachers have never worked outside the district where they are, like, that’s where they’ve worked. That’s what they know. And if you’re a teacher, that’s like you said, 1 in a district or 1 on campus, and you’ve never been able to connect with people outside of that environment, it can be a bit restricting.

What led you to [00:09:00] get curious enough to want to get outside of that? What was it in you that initiated that there’s got to be more instead of just accepting that I’m just going to be a lone wolf here 

Pamela Broussard: on my own? At my campus, we had a team. I had a teammate and she was amazing, but it was the two of us. And then we had, like I said, throughout the district, there were other teams, but I’m just hungry to learn.

I want to get better. Even that position, when I started working with newcomers, I went to someone in the district. I said, who’s number one at this? Who’s the best? And I said, I want to go watch them. And so they gave me the name of three people and I went and watched them. And then I strategically said, I want to go work with the one that I thought was the best.

And because I want to get better. I’m not going to, I’m not competing against you. I want to be better than I was yesterday. I want to be more effective. I want to have a greater impact. And if there’s someone who knows how to do that. Let me get to them. Let me learn. And so when you have an online platform, like I said, I was just hoping for a conversation with a few other [00:10:00] people, but now the conversation is pretty large, but I just wanted to know more.

And there is not a topic that comes up in the Facebook group that there’s not differences of opinions. And that’s beautiful because it’s a supportive environment. I use this, I use that. Why do you use that? And how do you do this? And I have probably grown more from that than anything else, because it’s targeted to what I need.

I can say, I need help with this, and I don’t understand this, and there’s people there always to support you and to give you ideas. 

Justin Hewett: I love that. I love that because I think that at the end of the day, it’s really resonated with a lot of people, and it’s given a lot of people who are trying to do a lot of really good work around the nation a place where they can feel like They are a part of the community and they’re not crazy and unique.

And sometimes I’ve heard from EL teachers that they walk into a PLC and they don’t necessarily have data, but they have anecdotal things that they can share. And they’re talking with the gen ed teachers and they sometimes feel like they’re like. Like less of a teacher. Well, in reality, [00:11:00] they’re the expert in the room around language.

You know, they should feel even more and they should feel empowered. And anyway, so that’s actually part of the reason why, what we’re, we’re building at flashlight is to empower those teachers as they walk into a PLC meeting, so they have data around their students with speaking and they can play a clip for the general teachers and say, okay, now let’s walk through this.

Listen to how this student is doing. This is what they need. This is what we need to do as a team to meet the students needs. Right. And so I love that. I think getting more tools out there, demystifying the work that we do and be able to provide teachers with additional tools and resources and a place to turn and ask your colleague, Hey, who’s the best at this that you know of, and what do you think we can do?

Cause you did that in your district. Some people don’t even have that opportunity. And so to be able to come to the group, to the leading ELL Facebook group and ask, I just got a newcomer from Ukraine. What is the best way for me to meet the needs of this 

Pamela Broussard: student? And we’re already working so hard. [00:12:00] There is not a teacher out there working hard.

And so sometimes that you could ask the group, Hey, I got to do a presentation on this tomorrow. My principal told me five minutes ago, anybody have anything? Now, there’s times, of course, and there isn’t somebody who has something, but there are lots of times that people do, and I’d rather not spend my time in front of a computer creating for hours.

If I can just ask a group or ask a friend, do you have anything on this? Do you know the law on this? And people can just help me and we can do that so we can put our passions and our energy towards working with those kids and those students and those teachers, instead of doing hours of research and creating and things like that, if it’s already out there, not work harder, but work smarter.

Justin Hewett: So good. I want to jump. Um, a little bit more into your, the, the content of your leading ELLs as far as your professional development, the workshops you offer. But before that, I just have to know what drew you to this [00:13:00] work? Like, how did you get involved with serving our multilingual students, our emergent bilinguals?

Where did this journey start, Pamela? Will you please go back and unpack that for us? 

Pamela Broussard: It’s not that interesting of a story of how I got started, how I ended up, it’s actually a little bit more interesting. I was at a school, the principal just said, you get your ESL certification by the end of this year or you don’t have a job.

And so, that was many years ago. Of course, she was not legally allowed to say that, but she did. And so we all ran out and got it. And in Texas, unfortunately, all you gotta do is take a test on Saturday. And you don’t have to know a whole lot. And so that’s how I got mine. And unfortunately, a lot of people in the field, that’s the end of the road.

Right there. I got the paper now. Okay. I just keep doing the same thing I did with this piece of paper in my hand. And I wanted to learn, I wanted to know how I, I was like, I don’t know how to do this. And I, again, I called, I figured out, okay, there’s all these people in the ad buildings that have all these titles and they say they know all this stuff.

So I just started calling them, come in my classroom, show me how to do [00:14:00] this. How do I do that? Who’s the best at this? How do you teach writers workshop to kids who don’t know English? Where do you start? So I’m like, and those guys are up in those offices. Love coming back in a classroom. They love to be invited.

It’s not, you may not be able to do it tomorrow, but they want to put on your schedule. So I was just always trying to find out how do you do this? What do you do? And so I started at a school with a high multilingual population and did that which began to open up my world to multicultural things. I also have a passion for cultures and diversity and so as I traveled, as I spent time I did some missionary work and different things.

I became a peace fellow and just really seeing things from around the world. And so that’s how it started. So I’ve been doing this for 35 years. Those of us who’ve been in a long time, you hear the pendulum swing, you heard the terms. We did social emotional learning before it had a name. I called it loving kids.

You know, it was really a fancy name. So there’s all these different kinds of things. Are you like, Oh, this is the latest. Okay. Last time, 25 years [00:15:00] ago, it was called this. And so just wanting to be better, wanting to know more, wanting to learn about this culture, that culture, what’s the difference? And that had became my passion and today it still is.

And I think learning about the cultures and learning about backgrounds and perspectives is a secret weapon that very few teachers really employ. I am not the greatest teacher. I’ve won lots of little trinkets along the way that people seem impressed by at times, but I’m not the greatest, but I am really good at building that social emotional and cultural background and and working with the social emotional learning of kids and that gives me greater impact than anything else.

You guys can out grammar me, you can out research me, you can out a lot of things, but I can get more bang for my buck because I’m putting in the time on that social and cultural capital and building that. And so that’s really where my passion started little by little. And then of course, as I moved [00:16:00] overseas for a while and experienced second culture for the first time and the cultural bombs and I left United States as this confident, educated woman, within six months, I was totally insecure, totally.

Unrecognizable to a lot of my friends and family, what’s wrong with you? I’ve never seen you like this. I’m like, what are you talking about? And then being able to bring that back into my classroom, once I moved back to the United States and understanding the students so much better. 

Justin Hewett: Oh my gosh, that is so interesting.

I love hearing your story and that’s interesting. I have a little bit similar experience that I went and lived in the Philippines as a missionary for two years after high school. Yeah, magandang umaga naman. All right. And we, and I learned Tagalog and, but when I first got there, I was learning, I was trying to learn Tagalog because it was like the national language and everybody spoke it to some degree.

Uh, but I went to live in a place where they spoke Ilocano [00:17:00] mostly. So all I would hear when I was on jeepneys or on buses or around the town square was. They would be speaking in Ilocano and here I’m trying to study Tagalog. And so then I ended up transferring to study Ilocano. I was like, well, I’ve got to learn the language.

Everyone here is speaking. And then I got transferred to another area where they didn’t speak Ilocano. And so it’s just this interesting thing, but you’re right. Like it’s so humbling. And it’s so amazing to meet like these people that have this incredibly different culture and perspective and such amazing food and like the hearts of the Filipinos were just amazing.

I love those people so much and I, they really resonate with me. Like we have a fun, I feel like we have this, a similar level of humor and I can have fun with them. And it’s just, it’s this amazing experience that really is. Guided the last 20 years of my life as I’ve gone on to figure out, gosh, I went to the Philippines was like you said, like this confident, educated person to some degree [00:18:00] and.

Was humbled significantly. And to think that our students are coming to this great nation of ours, and they might not have some of those same tools, some of those same privileges that I got to start with when I went to their country and they’re going to come here and they’ve got to start out and learn and figure this out.

And sometimes the system isn’t actually built to help them. 

Pamela Broussard: Yeah. And that’s my big thing is we’ve got to help them. We’re gold diggers. We got to find that gold because it’s there. And so we got to go find that gold in them and help them bring it here and support that and shorten that time. They don’t need to be here 20 years before they figure it out.

And we took our kids, our newcomers to an American football game. We do it. That’s a whole nother story. We can get into that in a minute. But, but what was interesting to me is my teammate who had come from Greece. Had never been to a game before and she’s been here 25 years now that may not be a big deal to you But if you grew up in Texas [00:19:00] football is big and you don’t have to be perfect at understanding everything about it But it’s at the cooler conversation of the water cooler conversation all the time And so for 25 years she had no idea how the game was even played And so as I was teaching the kids and teaching her and she was experienced and I was explaining what was going on Our kids don’t need to wait 25 years We can invest in that cultural competency upfront so that they can participate.

And there’s lots of benefits to that. And 

Mandi Morris: I’ve had conversations over the years where, you know, a friend or someone goes, man, I’d love to live in France for a year and just really know what it’s like to live in. They’re cultured. I always think in the back of my head, that’s a long vacation. That’s just like a really nice long vacation.

Like when you have to set up your utilities bill in a different country, when you have to pay your cell phone bill in a different country, when you have to figure out how to get a car, there’s a different vacationing somewhere. Versus living and establishing a life somewhere. And I think that’s something that going through [00:20:00] the social and cultural capital resources that you’ve collected here, it seems like it’s really strategic.

Like you’re explicitly trying to call out here are resources. Let’s pull back the veil and help you figure out these things. You’re making those explicit connections for your students and their families. What kind of impact have you seen that have for your own 

Pamela Broussard: students? When I started building leaders among my newcomers, we found out that by the time they got to seniors and they needed a scholarship, they had no leadership experience.

They had no volunteer experience because they didn’t have the language. So to back up, we started. So I started a leadership club. And so my second year newcomers would have would. Prepare events for first year newcomers. And so they, and so their English didn’t have to be good. It just had to be better than the new guys.

And, and so they planned events and they did things and they had to call, they had to do press releases. They had to call photographers. They had to reserve the room. They didn’t know I [00:21:00] was reserving the room with an email before that, but they thought they were doing, they learned. I taught them the rope.

I called the reporters and say, Hey, these guys are going to call you and this is what you’re going to want. But they learned how to do that. And so we would do, we did that. And as we developed that with my kids, with our students. By the second year we’ve done it, these guys became, they knew how to do the press releases, how to set up events, how to clean up, how to reserve a room, how to do all of these things.

And then when I needed them, they were leading it. My goal was for my newcomers to lead newcomers, but what happened by accident, I would love to say I planned it, but I really didn’t. Then they became leaders. Of other students, and then they became leaders of the American students, and now they’re the president of NHS, and now they’re the secretary of this, and I don’t have time, they don’t have time for me anymore, they’re all, you know, they’re out in the school doing all these things, I’m like, excuse me, I trained you for my club, and they became leaders, and they’ve gone off to college, and they became, they were in programs, and they already knew how to lead, they already knew how to [00:22:00] be, to do those things, they didn’t have to wait, and it’s just their second or third, and Fourth year in the United States.

And so they’re being selected as I’ve got one who was like on the Dean’s lift and he’s traveled to New York with the president and in the, his graduation from his university was, uh, this recently, and the president spoke about him as an inspiration of here’s this kid who came with no English and zero motivation when he got here and he’s traveled with him throughout New York and conferences.

And another one was sent to Chicago and another one was selected by and. Taylor to be her lead fellow, and like I said, I can’t, I couldn’t control them because you can empower them. They can go out and they can be these things, they can do these things, and and it just continues and it advances their life.

Right now, I’m at a new school, a school with a lot of issues. 90 percent of the students at my school stayed the same or went backwards last year in their language development. 90%. [00:23:00] It was shocking, heartbreaking, tore me up. Someone asked me to speak for my district next Thursday. So I went to my parents and I’m like, take some kids with me.

Giving them the chance to shine and just say, Okay guys, we just did this. We just did test prep together. They want the district to learn how to do it for other, at other campuses. Can I take you? And I’m taking one of the naughtiest boys in the school. And I told him, I said, you know what? I believe in you.

You’ve got good in you. And some people don’t see that, but I see it. So I want you to have this opportunity to shine. So everybody can see that you are really great and that you have great stuff in you. Cause maybe some people don’t always see that. And he’s like shaking his head. Yes. Cause he knew that’s not the normal perception.

ESL kid. Finally, 

Justin Hewett: somebody understands 

Pamela Broussard: me. Yeah. And then, and other kids on this campus who. I’m going to help them shine and I’m going to give them a voice in a place. I’m going to build that social capital. So yeah, is this, the stake is low. It’s [00:24:00] among a much other ESL teachers. So everyone’s going to understand them.

Everyone’s going to love them and it’s going to be unsafe. And, but the next time they’ve got to give a speech, like, I’ve done that before. I know how to do that. I can be in front of people. And one thing I always tell my kids is that we know that research shows that public speaking is the number one feared thing.

Other than death, I’m not going to take them to death, but I am going to take them to public speaking and presenting themselves if you can conquer that fear in middle school, in high school, what doors are open for you the rest of your life. And so I’m working with my kids at low stake, presenting them and all that, and I see them become confident leaders in there, not only among their own first language cultures, but among.

And my dream is the nation. 

Justin Hewett: It’s really fun to hear you talk about helping these students conquer these fears, potentially. Really, that’s where it takes a lot of courage to do that, but that’s where confidence comes from and learning a language [00:25:00] like you have to go out on a limb. You have to use words that you’re not exactly sure how they sound, right?

You think it sounds like this. You’ve learned this word and you’re going to try it. And, and you have to go out on that limb. And when it goes well, you go, okay, I figured that one out. I’m ready to go on to the next one, but it takes courage. And then over time that builds confidence and that confidence seeps into other areas as you’re, as you’re describing your students, that you’re trying to help them turn these leaders of other newcomers and they end up becoming leaders of.

All the students are in different organizations. That makes so much sense to me because to me, I feel like that’s how life really works. You take a step and you get the confidence to take another. And you get the confidence to take another. And there’s too many people. There’s too many children, frankly, aren’t being helped, given the courage to take that one step and they’re not encouraged, they’re not being given that courage to take that next step.

And so then they end up plateauing. And frankly, what you just described, as far as your, many of your students not making [00:26:00] much progress this last year, we’re hearing that across the nation. And so I think that encouragement and putting students in difficult situations where they have to rise up. I think that makes a big difference, right?

And I think it really helps propel them forward. That is so fun to hear. 

Pamela Broussard: One of the things that we did initially is we had at our school a group called Peer Assistant Leadership or something like that, PALS, it’s a national group. And those, these are the kids at your high school that go help at the elementary school and go help in the special ed class and they go do things.

And so one of our new arrival teachers says, why don’t y’all come to us? And so we got them to come. So these are the leaders in the school. These are, these are kids who they just need an extra class before they graduate because they got it all together and they’ve got it all figured out. It’s a lot senior year and we would have them come and we first do games and then we move on to academics through time.

But what was fun is to show the kids, ask those guys, how many of you guys were nervous to come? To this class [00:27:00] and work with these guys and all of them raised their hand. And so that our kids can see they’re scared to not just you, they’re scared. And we wanted to, one of the things we found was that the, we them divide.

I had some students who came back to me, and they had already graduated, they scheduled to all come together one day after school. And we were just, ah, I remember when! The good days and the good times, we were all talking. And so I was checking in on them, and they said, Yeah, miss, and this is, I’ve got friends that are Americans now.

And I go, what do you mean? They’d been in our high school for three years. I’m like, you didn’t have American friends when you were here? And what I found was that my students had crossed and had friends that were from here, but they already knew their language. They had shared the first language was the same.

So maybe a Vietnamese student who was born here was a friend of a Vietnamese newcomer, but the Vietnamese newcomer never had a [00:28:00] friend who didn’t know their language that they called a friend. And we saw this we them divide. And so we’re like, are you serious? You, it was a shock to me. I thought it happened organically.

It doesn’t, it really doesn’t. Unless you’ve been here many years. I don’t have time for that. I need my kids to be successful fast. And so we bring in these, these students, the pals, or you could use student council or whoever from your school. And they came in. And they start learning the language, they start learning to work with these kids cross culturally, and that just is going to open a whole lot of doors.

Number one, it’s a lot more fun to learn English from a cheerleader than Miss Broussard who’s 58 years old. I’m not cute. They are. And I had a boy super disengaged. I got him from another class. He was wrongly classified. I fought for him to be reclassified, but the original teacher would not. And he was very unmotivated and we weren’t seeing much work out of him.

We bring in these other high schoolers [00:29:00] that are cool and he became cool with them and his language grew and his ability to talk grew and he learned that slang and all of a sudden I’m seeing American slang in his essays, which we know from our state exam. I don’t know everybody’s, but R says uses idioms and expressions similar to their peers.

That’s one of the things they’re judged on. Again, I’m not so cool at 58, but these other kids coming in are. And so we’re building that social capital that opens doors, not only makes them better on their test, but also if they’re going to science Olympiad this weekend, what’s that? And so we got kids who come to United States, they get in Houston.

There’s no real good in my area. There’s not public transportation. There is a rest. There’s no jeepneys in the rest of the world, the taxi on the corner or the buses and all that, and they get stuck in apartments, but if they’re in a limp, if they’re in science Olympiad, they get to travel. They get to see a whole nother world.

And so we’re building that capital, which is building their language, [00:30:00] which is building their experiences, which is opening doors for their future and their economic growth as a family. So all of that is super important and it’s a piece I feel that people aren’t talking about enough. 

Mandi Morris: Pamela, it seems clear in the work that you do for adults and for kids is that you’re making connections.

You’re connecting people, you’re building community, you’re connecting different groups. And what I hear you utilizing a lot are clubs to help your students see themselves as leaders, to help your students see themselves as the same as their peers in high school. It’s empowering their identity and helping them connect with their identity.

How would you like, what advice would you give to a teacher listening to this podcast or admin listening to this podcast? We don’t have a system for clubs at our school, or I don’t know how to even get started to get my kids involved in clubs. Like where would be that first step? Like start here. If you’re going to invest time in getting your kids connected and empower through 

Pamela Broussard: clubs.[00:31:00] 

So club clubs are tricky because it’s after ours was after school. So you’ve got to have people who can come after school. Our school had a late bus, so that’s different. And most schools don’t have that. So our schools had a late bus. So anybody could ban football or any kind of club could get a ride home.

So that’s an advantage. So let’s take the school I’m currently at. And maybe I can’t start that kind of club after school. Cause there isn’t transportation for our kind of kids. What I did in the past, I’ll go back and then I’ll do my current situation. In the past for the after school club, we had, I got the second year students to create activities for fun, to, to lower the effective filter for them just to laugh.

Their life is stressful when you’re new. So we’re going to just do minute to win at games, just fun, silly stuff, just to play. Two fold. I picked four or five leaders and they can be all different. I had a boy that was quiet. He was my cookie chairman for two years because he could not [00:32:00] talk publicly, not because of the English, cause he was just shy.

And so for two years he put out the cookies each week and that’s all he could do. And now he’s a big, by his fourth year, he was leaving the group and no problem, but start small. Plan a fun activity, even if you have to do it during the daytime. Have some experienced ones. Let the students run it. They’re gonna do a bad job.

Let them. Let them. And that’s my rule because we combine several teachers. And I always have to tell the teachers, do not jump in. Do not rescue. Let them not know how to do it. Let them think they know. Let them plan it. Plan with them. So plan it. Here’s, I’m sorry, I need to answer your question more direct.

Plan it. Plan a meeting. If it’s a game night or it’s an afterschool program or a lunch bunch or something, practice it, make sure you practice the role or practice the games. Make sure that you’ve got all the supplies in advance. They’re not going to have them as a teacher. Don’t tell them you’re going to bring it because you know they’re going [00:33:00] to forget, but just bring it and say, okay, you got to bring your materials.

Everyone’s got to bring them on Tuesday because the game is on Friday and work through that and then let them work through that. And then give them the chance to lead. And even if it’s a small thing, even if it’s at recess, you can do it. You can do an arts and craft project with some, if you want to giving them that chance.

Like I said, currently, I don’t, I can’t do clubs in my situation currently. And even just like. I’m doing a presentation and taking kids with me to speak, find low risk. The first time we did this, we did it within our classroom and my students were part of curriculum of survival. So they had to tell their survival stories.

So we had read lots of stuff and I said, coming to America is a survival thing. So that can be your thing. And they had to do, they had to make a 3d representation of survival and write a point. So I sent an email out. To the happiest, nicest people I knew. Grouchy teachers, complaining teachers were not invited.

Other class, students were not invited. Only the happy, [00:34:00] encouraging teachers were invited. And I said, your job is to come and encourage. And I got grandparents from the community. I’m like, your job is just to come to encourage. I got cafeteria workers, your job. And so my own parents came over and said, I didn’t understand a word they said.

I said, that’s okay. No problem, because you were there and you supported them. And so I had the kids present, have your students present on anything that’s in your classroom. Let’s say you’re studying the Constitution. Let them make a poster and they present, but bring in an audience. It’s different.

Everything is different if you got an audience, a real audience. That’s really there in that room. And so we would bring them in, and they would go, Wow, that was great! That was awesome! And every one of my students told me it was their favorite day of the year. And then they could do it. But if you can’t do it after school, if you can’t do a club, give the opportunity for real audiences within your classroom.

And again, invite the nice people, the people you know who are bubbly and encouraging, and, Wow, that was awesome! And they’ll lean in and listen. I invited a school board, and I’ll remember [00:35:00] one boy wrote about a poem about Going through hard times in life. Our school board, the president of our school board said, can I have a copy of that poem?

And my students said, yes. And he gave him his copy. I don’t know, maybe a week later the president of the school board wrote him a letter and told him how much it meant to him because he was going through cancer treatments. Now the boy that he wrote the letter to kept that letter in his pocket because he didn’t have a dad that was encouraging him and telling him what a great job he was doing.

And so both sides of the story were extremely blessed by the other, by a student having his voice and telling his story. And so this cancer survivor held on to that poem while he was going through stage four of colon cancer and my student held on to his thank you letter because he’s never had a dad that said you’re awesome and you’re worth something.

And so both voices mattered. And take audiences, whether it’s a club, whether it’s an activity, a presentation, [00:36:00] giving kids that voice will empower them. 

Justin Hewett: Talk about crossing the we them divide, huh? Yeah. What a special moment. Yeah. Thank you so much for sharing that. And what an amazing confidence builder for that student, right?

For that young man to be able to think about that, what he wrote mattered to somebody else and so much so that they wanted a copy of it. Yeah. 

Pamela Broussard: I’ll tell you a funny story too, really quickly, but I get a call down to the part we were studying the part branches of the government. I, that’s part of my curriculum.

I had to do it. And so I made my students write to all the senators and the judicial branch and everybody. Well, Jose was in charge of writing the Supreme Court. And we were going to do a presentation and we called our presentation a museum, so it sounds cooler. And so he wrote the Supreme Court. And he said, could I have a photo of you, an autographed photo of you?

And he sent it to all the justices. And then, I don’t know, a few weeks later I get a call to the front office. [00:37:00] And they said, Pamela, the United States Supreme Court is calling you. And I go, what? No, they said, there’s an important phone call in the office. So I go to the front of the office. I said, hi, I’m Pamela Broussard.

How can I help you? And they said, this is the United States Supreme Court Justice Office. And I’m like, okay, great. And I’m thinking, how do they know? And of course, by this time, my principal knew that it was me because my name was not on the letter, but they could figure it out. It probably came from my classroom because of things I did.

But nobody knew. The Supreme Court didn’t know, and my school didn’t know. But as soon as the Supreme Court described what happened, they’re like, Oh, that’s gotta be Bruce Hart’s class. And so the Supreme Court says, We have some questions for you. Oh, and so we’d like to talk to you. I’m like, okay, great, fine.

And I said, look, I’ve got class in five minutes. I can’t Wait on hold for whoever this person is. So you can call me back, but I got to run to my class. So I ran down to my classroom and they go, what is your name? I said, I’m Pamela Broussard. And they couldn’t even tell us about these letters. I said, yeah, I said, I want my students to know that their voice matters and that they can [00:38:00] talk to anyone.

And so I’ve asked them to write to representatives and to justices and things. Um, they go, is this Pamela Broussard? And I said, okay, great. And so I ran back to my room and I got a phone call by the time I got there and it was whoever. The person was and they go, hi, this is somebody important is this Pamela Broussard who used to work in Afghanistan and I froze because I hadn’t told them that and they’d already researched me by the time I’d gone upstairs and who I was and they said, we got these letters and we want to know about them.

And I said, my name is Pam Broussard and I teach newcomers. And I want my newcomers to know that their voice matters and they can have a voice and they can speak to anyone and that they are important in this community. So I asked them to write to you and they’re like, we’ve never had anybody do this before.

And I said, that’s okay, but my kids are really important and I want to make sure that they have a voice and that they know that they can connect with anyone in the government or in this community. And they’re like, okay. And I said, can [00:39:00] you send us an autograph photo? And then I started, they, I think they were suspicious because I asked them to sign an autograph and there’s, we’re not sure we can do that.

I said, we’ll find a pencil. That has the United States government on it or something. Can you send us something? Send us a gift of any kind. Look around some stationary, anything that you could send to us. And so weeks go by. There’s a something in my mailbox and it said United States government on it, on the return address.

And I ran to this kid, Jose, who had written all this stuff. And I was like, Jose, look, and in it was a signed autograph. Real. With real pen and a real letter with a real signature, not a commercial one, not the photocopy kind that we used to get when we were kids from one of the justices. Our kids can have a voice and we’ve got to open those doors for them.

And when they do that, he was able to apply for scholarships. He was able to talk about that. He has that photo, which I like, save this. It’ll get you some money later if you sell it. And things like that. We had [00:40:00] senators give us cufflinks. Like with their signature and stuff, making it real, making it authentic, making a real voice because writing for Miss Broussard is not very exciting because I I’m their teacher.

I’m not intriguing real audiences, real voices, real places where they can shine. And that’s a whole lot. I’m more motivated to speak to the football player than to Miss Broussard. I’m more motivated to speak to the cheerleader. I’m more motivated to, and they don’t like it at first when I push them. Right now I’m at a school with tons of disrespect.

It is a school that has a lot of issues going on and I’m subbing in one of the classes this week. And I’m making everyone shake my hand and give eye contact and I missed a day and the other teacher who covered the class said, Oh, they were so happy because they said, I hate having to shake your hand and look in your eye.

But at this point they can do it now. We’ve been doing it for about a week and a half and they can look at me and shake and that’s a skill they’ll have the rest of their life. And so it’s worth it, it’s [00:41:00] worth that time and it’s not that hard. 

Justin Hewett: Oh, I love this. I love this. And I think that one of the things that’s amazing to me is how much you really are shining a light on your students.

And you’re giving them a platform, you’re helping them create a way to connect with others. You’re creating a way for them to build their confidence. And really as I, you shared a resource with us called Building Social and Cultural Capital Planner. And as I go through this, as I’ve gone through this, I can see how this has come to be from the work that you do from your approach.

And will you tell us a little bit, a little bit about this resource, about this tool and tell us how it can be used if we can, we’ll link to it in the, in our show notes so that people can access it and jump in and learn more about it. But as I look at this, I’m just so amazed at all of the different resources in here that can help.

a new teacher or help an experienced teacher give them different tools, resources, thoughts, ideas, maybe unpack this a little bit and tell us a little bit more about this amazing tool. 

Pamela Broussard: Yeah. So [00:42:00] I, people are asking me like, what do I do? How do I do it? And I don’t know, you can’t do all of it. You can’t do all of it all the time.

Take what you can do. But I started thinking, okay, what do we do? And how is it? And Everywhere I was going right now, social, emotional learning, trauma informed, all of those buzzwords are happening, but nobody tells you how to do it. What does that look like on Monday morning? And so I said, what does that look like on Monday morning?

How do I, how can I do that? And so I wrote it and after you see it, you’re going to go, Oh, that’s simple. I can do that. And yeah, you can, but I just wanted there to be a place where you could just check off. Here’s some things I could do. There’s things you can do before school ever starts. Of course we know to have books and posters and sayings of our cultures represented within the room where kids can see themselves.

But there’s also things like when you do leadership development, I worked with a pretty high ranking leadership company at one point. They’re always talking about future vision, and if you know anything about poverty, it’s about now, surviving now. And so I want to [00:43:00] plant that future vision. I want to help them see that they belong.

Taking photos of themselves with your school paraphernalia in front of the school and giving that to them. They don’t have a lot of art if they’re new in the country. You don’t bring everything from home. And so having the picture of this is me and I can see myself in this group. Getting, one of my favorite things to do in the school year, at the high school level, was to ask all the clubs if they have any leftover shirts.

It helps two ways. One, the, um, it gives kids an extra shirt to wear, just a simple way, but another it’s, yeah, this is my shirt. I am an eagle. I am a buffalo. I am a tiger and I belong here and it gets their identity in and my kids don’t care. It’s for a football game. It’s already over. They don’t even know.

And so we always collect all the shirts and give every student a free shirt. Some schools can afford just to buy one. I’ve never been in that situation, but I can get leftover shirts from big events. So I went through school. And created a guide of what can you do before school starts. That will support your kids social emotional connections.

What can [00:44:00] you do during, and how can you help them for their future? And so I broke it up that way, and again, most of it’s, none of it’s hard to do. You cannot do all of it every year, so don’t get overwhelmed. Pick a couple things, pick a couple teachers, and say, Hey, could you ask for, could you collect t shirts?

Or, ask the cheerleaders to come and teach a cheer to your English class. Okay. It’s good. And depending if you’re doing with newcomers or longer term ones, you’re teaching vocabulary, you’re teaching words, you’re teaching school spirit. And when they go to the game that you take them to, they can participate.

One year my kids got to run through the tunnel. Then they decided that probably wasn’t a good idea, but, but we got to run through and that this is part of their team and they all say, no, in the beginning, no, I don’t want to do that. I go, oh, it’s required. And then they do it and they tell me it’s the best day of their life.

And doing those kinds of things and bringing opportunities to your students, it’s not that hard. And that’s what the guide is for very simple things you can do. And 1 other big part. And then I really feel is [00:45:00] often our kids are the ones receiving is giving them an opportunity to give back. There was a line from a movie many years ago, an old.

Old nun talking to a new one and she says, pray they can forgive you for the mercy you give them. Meaning, if you are always helping me, then I’m always the person in need. And after a while, that didn’t feel so good that I’m the needy one. So I make sure my kids give back and my kids can’t stay after school.

Sometimes my kids don’t have money, but we can make Valentine’s cards. I can give them all the paper and we give them to the special ed department and deliver them during the day. I’ve done something to give back. We can get, have them give speeches about their culture and the history classes. I have something valuable to give back.

I can share with this class about. A topic that’s very comfortable to me. So giving them the opportunity where it’s your second year students or your older students to come back and speak to the new ones, the seniors to the freshmen or whatever, but a place where they can give back, cause that feels good [00:46:00] when people can see your talent.

So yeah, the guide’s there. It’s free. Take it and help your kids get ready. Pamela, 

Mandi Morris: this resource that we’ve been discussing, is this something that you shared in your um, leading ELL’s Facebook group? Is this the type of resources that teachers are sharing out? Tell us a little bit more about how are people utilizing this and applying it?

Where are they accessing it? 

Pamela Broussard: I have, it has been shared in my Facebook group, uh, as anybody who’s running any kind of social network kind of thing, you’re putting out resources on a regular basis, whether it’s myself or other people in the field. So this is out there a big part of building that social and emotional capital is having examples of people who have been successful.

So like one of the things I’ve. Put in the Facebook group is 96 examples of immigrants from around the world who came to the United States who are successful today. And so putting that kind of material in front of the teachers and put it in front of the students [00:47:00] is making a difference. So my goal of the group.

Originally, like I said, it was to connect. Um, and then later it became to share and later it became to build a community where we all share. And so there’s all sorts of resources. Again, there’s some that will be just quick questions. What? I have an administrator who’s doing this and they don’t understand the law.

What’s the law again? Anybody got the legal? I know the law, but anybody have a link to the legal document that I can show or like Justin mentioned earlier, I have a student from Afghanistan. What? What do I need to know or this student is doing this, but I, I don’t really know how to meet their need or anybody got to know a good source for a Ukrainian dictionary or a Dari translator.

And so the community becomes the expert. I never started it to be the expert. I started it to connect. And at this point, I, if you follow in one of the groups, my group, and there’s other really great groups out there, but if you follow along long enough, you go, Oh, [00:48:00] Orly, she’s the one who knows all about special ed.

Here, ask her, she’ll know the answer and I can tag her. Oh, you want to know about great resources about Russia? Oh, we know who is an expert in that. And so you begin to have this, uh, not, I don’t want to say resource, but this 

Justin Hewett: Collective 

Pamela Broussard: greatness. Yeah, that’s right. There we go. Collective strength of everybody because we’re not all good at everything.

There’s things I won’t even answer in the group because I’m like, I don’t really know that. That’s not my thing. I am not a digital creator. I don’t. I’m incredibly slow. It’s not cute. And if I can just get it on a few pieces of color, then I feel like I’m doing a good job, but there’s people out there that can out digitalize me in a heartbeat.

There’s a young woman named Pooja who, and all the Afghan refugees came. Of course, I had lived in Afghanistan and I know the material I present on it, but Pooja was great about putting stuff together. So I’m just like, Pooja, can I take your stuff? And when I’m working on my presentation, can we put it together?

And do that. And so we’ve [00:49:00] all done that. We all just share and personalize it for the needs of our campuses. Um, so we don’t have to be alone and we don’t have to be expert on everything because we’re not. And again, with so many people shifting in the community, as far as educators, there’s a lot of new people.

There’s people who are assigned to work with these students who don’t have the background, or like in Texas, who took a test on a Saturday and don’t have the background, and they want to learn, but they don’t. And I can do this in my pajamas at night. I don’t have to, like, give up my whole Saturday. I can do it while I’m in the doctor’s office waiting, or while my kid’s getting his teeth worked on in the dentist’s office.

I can look up a website and find some information. So it really becomes a resource of help and support. 

Justin Hewett: I want to just honor the amazing work that you’ve done there, really creating this resource, creating this way to have a collective expert that everyone can turn to has really provided so much value in our multilingual community, right?

In our language learner community. And [00:50:00] for all of these brand new teachers who are coming in to be able to be able to turn to this group and ask questions or go back and search it and see what other people have said or done or what they’ve shared. It really has provided tremendous value. And it’s really neat to see how that has compounded over time.

To think that you started hoping you could have a conversation with somebody outside your own building, and now you get to have that constant conversation with over 14, 000 people who are constantly and actively thinking about how to better serve and meet the needs of our English learning students.

It’s really quite remarkable, and I think it’s pretty amazing. Congratulations on that success and and I know that for you, it’s it’s got to be incredibly rewarding to just Think about the reach that this is having and the amount of students it’s got to be touching and influencing. 

Pamela Broussard: That’s the beautiful part, is I don’t really care how many, the numbers, that was never the issue, that’s never the goal.

I’m not [00:51:00] competitive, I’m not trying to like, all of us who have, um, Valentina Gonzales has a great website. Um, Margie has a great website. Uh, hers is Advocating for the Elves, there’s other ones. And we all work together, hey, and because we all have the same passion and desire just to see kids flourish and teachers flourish and just makes us all better.

And that’s the goal, just that all of us get a little bit better. And one of the beautiful things about the group is that not only are the people who have experience with these things, there’s a lot of multilingual teachers that are multicultural themselves. And so they can say, I know exactly who I’m going to call if I want to find out about this culture or that culture, because there’s so many people in the group who are of that culture who can speak into it.

So really it’s a beautiful thing that just, like you said, started from nothing and has become a real source of joy. So 

Justin Hewett: cool. Let’s we’re getting close to wrapping up here. And I guess I [00:52:00] just, if you could go back and tell yourself something when you first started, when you were first getting started in serving emergent bilingual students, what is the piece of advice?

That you would give yourself, 

Pamela Broussard: you know, it’s funny because you hear it so often, but take time to find out something about your kids culture. If you just got to go to Wikipedia, if that’s the best in the most time you have, find that and then begin those discussions with those students. Oh, this is this and this is that, or, oh, is this.

I don’t really understand this. I was talking to an Afghan yesterday and we were just sharing Afghan stories and she goes, I just love this time because it was during bus duty. Find a story, find information about their culture. Look it up, find the pop songs. We play them in the background music while kids are working.

And I’ll just go to Top pop song in whatever place and I play it and I don’t even tell the kids. And all of a sudden you just see them smiling because they know I took [00:53:00] that time to connect with their culture and to show something. And I’m hoping that all the words are good, but most kids in the other room won’t really understand them.

So that one kid and most of the rest of the world doesn’t let. The vocabulary that’s inappropriate in the United States out there, I mean, it pops on, but take the time to find a way to connect to the cultures that are represented in your room. And it’s okay to be a beginner. It’s okay to ask. I got a question yesterday from someone in the front office about a school in Senegal.

And they were like, very concerned. I’m like, it’s 2024. I’ll just call them. It’s not like when I started this, Senegal was very far away today. It’s just a couple extra digits in my phone and I can call and ask them, okay, what is, can you tell me what grade this kid was? And what are these grades mean? The world’s very small now and we can reach everybody and just take the time to do that.

It’s not that hard. I’m 

Mandi Morris: just so curious. As you said, you’ve been in here education for 35 years. You’ve seen the swings and the [00:54:00] shifts. What advice do you have for teachers, you know, starting now? And what is ML education look like in 10 years? Like, how do we prepare new teachers for the future? What in our education looks like in the next 5, 10 

Pamela Broussard: years.

Okay. So I want to start with the statistic on this. By 2040, the United States will be a minority majority country, but there are states, including Texas, who have already switched where I, as a white American. With a European descent, we’ll become the minority in the United States. The leadership is changing and the way things need to look.

So 10 years from now, we are so much closer. We’re, it’s 34. Six years. We’ll be the first nation in the world to flip its ethnicity. We’ve got to prepare our kids in our classroom to be those leaders. To be those those are the kids are going to lead and [00:55:00] what advice would I give that brand new first of all?

What is it gonna look like 10 years from now 10 years from now? My hope and prayer is that all classroom teachers just expect diversity in their room have libraries and posters and resources in different languages and different backgrounds I was excited. I went to read works, which is a very popular website.

Yesterday, I have a new Turkish adult that I’m tutoring and he doesn’t know American history. I said, okay, we’ll start. And when I looked up, Christopher Columbus, there was the other side of the story was already printed there. I didn’t have to explain, okay, this is what we were told. But now we know that he killed a whole lot of people.

It was there. And so literature is changing. And so that’s exciting to me that more diverse voices are being heard. If you’re a brand new teacher, take time to learn something about each culture. That’s represented again. If you can’t do anything more than a Wikipedia search, just learn a little bit, read a little bit, find a way, check your PowerPoints.

Do your PowerPoints only have [00:56:00] a certain ethnicity? Put a picture of a person that looks like the kids in your classroom on your PowerPoint. They don’t even have to say anything. You don’t have to say anything about it. I remember the day that one of my students goes, Hey, this guy’s Martin Luther King, do you know who he is?

And it was my African American kid. And when I do the 96 immigrants that have been successful in the United States and there’s millions, but. I just 96. Um, every time my kids pick a student, a person to do their report on, that is a requirement that is like them. Like it has not failed yet every single time.

So my Vietnamese guys pick the Vietnamese guy to talk about. I have had a girl in my class whose mother and grandmother were killed in front of her. She picked a story about the dancer whose parents were killed. The kid who came without paperwork, pick the story about the woman who came without paperwork.

Everybody wants to be seen. Everybody wants to be heard. Everybody wants to be related to. Take the time. And you don’t have to do it by yourself. Join a [00:57:00] group. Ask anybody. You have a resource on a kid, any stories about a kid from Timbuktu and someone might be able to help you and it’s going to mean the world to your kids.

And if not, find music. You can find music from any country in the world right now online and just play it in the background while you’re grading papers or something. Pamela, 

Justin Hewett: this has been amazing. Oh my gosh, there are so many incredible resources. You are dropping like knowledge bombs all over the place that are just going to be so helpful.

So many amazing ideas. I love those perspectives and really appreciate you taking the time to be here with us today and to share all of these amazing ideas and resources. And gosh, we really do appreciate all the work that you’re doing for our language learner community. 

Pamela Broussard: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Justin Hewett: So fun to have you. Thank you so much for being here on the ML Chat Podcast.[00:58:00] 


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