English as Second Language (ESL) Providers

ESL Providers 1

Project Purpose and Statement Goal

English Language Learners (ELL) are offered free classes by a number of Omaha organizations that may not be collaborating with each other.   The need for these services is greater than what is currently provided.  By bringing these organizations together, relationships may be formed, overlaps or gaps in services will be discovered, and resources among organizations may be used more efficiently.

Convene a meeting of a sampling of ESL (English as Second Language) providers in Omaha to explore services offered by each organization and to discover opportunities to collaborate. 

Preparation

Our agenda was revised daily as new thoughts or awareness of what needed to be explained came to light (e.g., explaining the grant, completing the survey, and doing our follow-up within two weeks).  It was extremely helpful to do a run-through with Melanie Schultz and Autumn Hill.  We also did a run-through on site.  Coordinating our parts in the agenda, knowing when to chart, and having our participants get up and form groups was important in making the meeting flow smoothly.

Terry Wingate delivered our FIT kit which was real encouragement.  Terry’s enthusiasm and interest in what we were doing was a shot of adrenalin to our energy level.  We had been gathering our materials and thought we had what we needed.  Because we used two flip charts we had enough materials and paper pads to carry out our planned agenda and activities.  We also used a white board for a “graphing of connections” exercise.  The color dry erasers were great and the participants enjoyed the opportunity to move and to see how they were connected.

We were a little nervous when told that the University of Nebraska Omaha observers would attend.  We felt a little letdown when they didn’t show up.

The Meeting ESL Providers 2

Everyone was receptive, eager to participate, and appreciated the opportunity to come together and meet each other.  Our purpose was to “build awareness of ESL providers” and that goal was met successfully.

Lessons Learned

  • Stating the ground rules and then asking for additional suggestions might work better in a new group.
    • We tried to establish the ground rules from the group.  I counted to 10 to myself, as suggested in our training, during the silence.  I had offered an example to begin with and ended up stating all the ground rules from the “extras” I had written down.
  • We needed to find a better way of incorporating the survey into the purpose of the meeting.  The survey took longer to complete than we expected and made an awkward beginning.
    • Hindsight – explain the survey and then pass them out so everyone is occupied at the same time.  The start of our meeting would flow better.
  • The contact information sheet was redundant as we had already gathered the information in our research before inviting everyone.  The Kit and surveys were delivered after our last planning session so we didn’t have the opportunity to review them.
    • In a similar situation we would not have the participants fill out their contact information again if we already had it.  We assumed it was to be returned with the survey.
  • Setting up the room took longer than one would think but we did have all our materials in place.  Coffee, water, and cookies were provided which made the participants feel welcome and comfortable.
  • We used tent cards for the names of the participants which were really nice to see.  However we only had 24 lb paper instead of card stock.
    • Hindsight – purchase card stock for the name tags.  It was great, especially with the large group, to call someone by name and see their organization.
  • We had a sign in sheet at the front, along with the tent cards and the survey – way too much stuff.  Everyone came at once and it was too much for most to carry.  Next time we will only have the sign in sheet available before they move to their chairs.
    • Hindsight – tent cards would have been placed on the table with the markers for them to fill out after seated.  Surveys and contact sheets would be passed out together when explaining them.
  • Getting responses and following up after the meeting took longer than expected.
    • May consider sending out evaluation about 3 days after the meeting while it’s fresh in their minds.
  • The ESL providers are very inter-related and have connections in various ways.
  • They recognize that they have a common goal and clients.
  • Each organization is unique.
  • One group tries to provide services to under-served clients.
  • The ESL providers are interested in staying connected and look forward to a list of providers.

Posted by Laurie Hajek-Jones and Suzan Jank, Facilitators-in-Training

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