"Oh, The Places We'll Go!"

How to Create a "Kind of Paradise" in our School Community

What is needed to foster a warm, welcoming and nurturing environment?

Whole-School Approach:

  • school reception team in which all staff understand welcoming routines: adult interpreters, guidance counselors, ELL teacher, administrative team.
  • school environment has multilingual signs welcoming families

Orientation Information:

  • assistance in completing necessary registration documentations
  • community resources in various languages and formats (print as well as online)
  • school routines and an example of an English Language Learner's school day
  • Student support: peer mentors, community connections, supervised group activities

How will students be introduced?


  • multilingual signs, visual welcoming cues, multilingual brochures
  • offer a start-up kit with school supplies and an age-appropriate book


Initial Assessment:

Depending on the student's age and level of understanding, teachers may re-word or limit the following questions:

  1. Personal questions: what is your name; which country do you come from?
  2. Basic School questions: what grade were you in; name the subjects you studied; how do you think school will be different in Canada; what can you do on a computer?
  3. Language questions: what languages do you speak; did you study English; how well can you read in your language; tell me about a story you read.
  4. Family, Friends & Interest questions: who is in your family; tell me about a friend; what do you like to play; what is your favourite holiday; what is the most important thing a teacher should know about you?
  5. Acculturation questions: tell me about your country; tell me about your first day in Canada; how do you feel about being in Canada?

Create a portfolio consisting of students' interview responses, picture discussions, first language writing and reading sample and mathematics assessments; place the student accordingly in ESL or ELD programs.

How will parents be assisted if they have limited English skills?

Family Interview:

  • With the support of a professional interpreter, and where available, a settlement worker, conduct an interview to learn more about the family's experiences and needs, as well provide information to support their transition.

Community Involvement:

  • To offer continual support, ensure that brochures with various school and community information is provided in native language. Where appropriate, guide the family to the settlement website for newcomer support.
  • Ensure that a handout is provided in native language with school routines and holidays.
  • Host a monthly event (i.e. casual tea) in the staff room during regular after-work hours to allow families to connect and discuss opportunities for school involvement and their children's progress. Issue an invitation for the next event during the family interview.

How will diversity be reflected in the school?


  • multilingual welcoming signs as well as acceptance posters for diverse communities (i.e. LGBTQ)
  • art nights in which parents are welcomed to share their children's creative expressions
  • multicultural events that celebrate students' diversity such as concerts, poetry nights
  • non-denominational events and school displays

Curriculum connections:

  • diverse narratives and perspectives offered within the curriculum
  • classroom library should include diverse experiences as well as literacy materials for varying learners
  • activities that incorporate innovative global connections such as Taking it Global
  • students' work should reflect individual identities and be proudly displayed

How will inclusive practices be developed?

Follow the Ministry of Education’s policy on Equity and Inclusive Practice in an effort to move “beyond tolerance to acceptance and respect” (2014, p. 1). In order to promote the fundamental human rights described in the Charter, schools must “be places where students…see themselves reflected in their studies” (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2009, p. 1).

How do we know we are making a difference?

Use this reflective tool to ensure that each educational focus is being addressed.