How can schools help welcome young Afghan novices?

After seeing their government fall into the hands of the Taliban in the wake of the US withdrawal, they abruptly moved away from their homeland, family and friends, and then fled — only a few weeks in disarray. On American military bases– Thousands of young Afghan refugees are preparing for their first day of class.

For these students, starting school will be more of a hassle than a normal mess. While some American students and teachers may be worried about how they are, they are also worried about the future of their former classmates. Who did not take it out. Many will be eager to hit the books but will be overwhelmed by the language barriers and Meeting basic needs Against the backdrop of a low resource rehabilitation process.

The US is doing more rehabilitation than it currently has 55,000 Afghans, Co An additional 125,000 refugees It is expected to arrive worldwide by the end of next year. Since a large proportion of adolescents are school-age children, American schools will be needed to welcome these adolescents, as we have learned as public health researchers. Studying Adjustment and welfare of refugees in the Middle East and North Africa.

As schools across the country prepare for this new arrival due to the Kovid-19 epidemic, we share important insights we have learned from talking to hundreds of high school students and family members, school teachers and staff, district leaders, and civil society. Representatives from the last four years.

Although our participants in Detroit; Chicago; Harrisonburg, Va .; And there were Arab-majority countries like Austin, Texas, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon देश countries with diverse historical, cultural and socio-political contexts in Afghanistan जे what we learned could be useful for teachers eager to welcome newcomers. Of US wars abroad.

Avoiding stereotypes

Refugees, immigrants, Afghans, Pashtuns, Muslims, English language learners. It can be tempting to categorize people under neat labels, and some students may use these labels to describe themselves. Of course, knowing that a student identifies as a Muslim can help make the school more welcoming of its practices – for example, by offering halal meat in a cafeteria, like the Austin school we visited. However, there is a difference between adapting to students’ preferences and making assumptions based on their perceived identities.

Labels can easily become necessary, with teachers assuming that all members of the group have the same needs, desires, qualifications, and behaviors. During an interview in Michigan, for example, one teacher blamed the tendency to reject children’s personal basis on the “Arabic mentality,” in which such help would hurt their ego. Stereotypes like this effectively blind teachers to the complexities that stand in front of them and can be ineffective or ineffective. Even harmful teaching methods.

It is also important to know and teach the differences between the different categories of beginners. Afghans, for example, are not Arabs. Not all Afghans are refugees, and not all refugees think so. This distinction is not about semantics but about communicating respect.

Number of first impressions

The first day of school is infamous, even for students who have not recently fled the battlefield and are abroad in the middle of the semester where they do not speak the language. Many beginners are overwhelmed by how different everything is about their new school. Lisha, a 17-year-old Lebanese girl from Michigan (whose name has been changed) told us, “Language, new environment, new habits, new things … everything is new to newcomers” in the US and starting school.

To facilitate this challenging transition, the schools we studied adopted a different approach Orientation approach, From small-group meetings with enrollment interviews to comprehensive, multi-day events. Structured orientations allow schools to learn about their new students and develop the support that is potentially created for them. These sessions also teach students about school layouts, rules and offers and allow school staff to connect students to other services, such as Mental health and psychosocial support.

In many schools, teachers encouraged students like Lisha, who had already been in the country for some time, to help welcome them by speaking their native language and introducing them to their friends.

A common challenge for schools enrolling newcomers is to process past transcripts, conduct academic assessments, and place students in the right grades.

Schools usually have a protocol-and also a dedicated team, as in the case of Harrisonburg Reception center-In order to guide this process, research participants often expressed confusion and resentment about being placed in a lower category than expected.

Efforts to make the process more transparent and to communicate the reasons behind grade placement in an accessible way will go a long way in building students’ confidence and satisfaction. And such efforts will help prevent students from feeling misunderstood, insulted, or humiliated.

Culturally responsive SEL

Social and emotional learning (SEL) activities Introduce invaluable opportunities To promote student and school adjustment. By cultivating social- and self-awareness and healthy relationships, SEL adjustments can help prevent some of the more painful stressors, such as bullying.

SEL, and complementary or overlapping methods such as restorative methods and trauma-aware care, are especially promising when they are at the center Equity And meaningfully address the conflicting influences of race, ethnicity, gender, class, and religion, including power differences and other social identities.

In some cases, the teachers in our study actively reflected on what they assumed to be white, US-born teachers, and sought to expand their educational toolkit.

One teacher in Michigan thought, “Maybe I don’t really teach and I thought I didn’t teach,” because I sometimes give [my students] A reference, and I’ll check myself, because it’s coming out of my mouth, I’m like, ‘No. They have no frame of reference [for this]. ‘”

Self-reflection like this motivates teachers to learn more about their students, whether by reading about Iraqi history beyond the Gulf Wars, learning Arabic vocabulary, or practicing pronouncing their students’ names correctly.

Of the student Generally appreciated This is a relatively small welcome gesture. Sophomore, a 15-year-old from Austin, told us that his teachers’ efforts to find out about Iraq — his country of origin सांगितले made him feel “a little special.”

Such teachers sometimes even provided accommodation to increase homework during Ramadan, but took care not to make the students feel unmarried or abusive.

This balance between adjustment and equal treatment allows teachers to teach their students “Speak English!” Or use it as an example to teach students.

A 17-year-old Iraqi senior, for example, recalls an alternative teacher showing her as an example of assimilation because she stopped wearing the hijab when she arrived in the United States.

She remembers, “I thought it was too rude, because you can’t assume that.”

Apparently annoyed, she denounced the teacher and made it clear that she had never worn the hijab नाही neither in her childhood in Iraq nor during her displacement to Syria and Turkey. Not only was this teacher wrong, he effectively separated her from her other classmates, reducing her to stand-in for her cultural stereotypes.

Systems are more than the sum of individuals

Of course, teachers cannot do everything. High student-to-teacher ratios, rigorous curricula, standardized tests, and just so many hours a day करू not to mention improving the ongoing peer response — have already increased teachers. High-quality professional development can be helpful, but it’s not an elixir. There are school systems Many tools At their disposal to support novices and the teachers who serve them.

Austin, for example, is built An effective mental health system In its public schools, which provide preventive and special support. Teachers who are often at the forefront of finding psychological needs can now refer students for appropriate care.

Schools, like Harrisonburg Public High School in Virginia, meanwhile, offer Newcomer program This includes not only English as a Second Language (ESL) class, but also training in extended cross-cultural orientation and study skills.

Many schools employ staff and teachers from the adult adolescent community. Contacts in Iraq or Syria help mediate Relationships between schools and families, Also serving as a culturally responsive guide. To increase family engagement, liaison and other school staff not only participated in school and community activities, but also visited parents at home and at work. Led sessions To support caring SEL and mental health. These are just two examples, but they speak to the power of schools and districts to welcome through culturally responsive innovation.

We need more research to document and evaluate what works best for schools to support newcomers and how these methods should be adopted for students and families coming from Afghanistan in the coming months. But, for now, we hope that what we have learned over the past four years will inspire newcomers, teachers and service providers to look forward to the welcome.

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