Date of Graduation

Spring 5-19-2023

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)


School of Education


International and Multicultural Education (IME)

First Advisor

Dr. David Donahue

Second Advisor

Dr. Luz Navarrette García

Third Advisor

Dr. Rosa Jimenez


Many educators hope to give their students quality and well-rounded education while balancing all the contents they need to learn. Social-emotional learning (SEL) and culturally responsive teaching, however, are two areas that teachers seem to struggle with (Stark et al., 2021). Teachers have encountered situations where it was difficult for them to support their students due to the cultural differences between the teacher and student (Heineke & Vera, 2021). This lack of professional development in the culturally responsive aspect is concerning.

The shortfall of training leads to failure to apply these practices into schools. For newcomer students, who are usually emergent bilinguals, the transitional process of moving to a new environment is difficult enough, but with an educational system where their behaviors are judged based on the dominant culture’s norm, this can be a negative experience. The lack of a welcoming and safe space keeps them from opening up. Moreover, the pressure that comes from learning a new language while trying to grasp contents in the mainstream classroom could not only increase their anxiety, but also influence their self-confidence, motivation and attitude towards learning, which can decrease their social-emotional well-being.

The importance of combining culturally responsive practices and SEL is a way to address both the social-emotional well-being of students and the development of their culturally sensitive and empathetic skills. My field project incorporated this and focuses heavily on how educators can support emergent bilingual newcomers in elementary school through mainstream classrooms, and what strategies can be implemented to make this intervention successful for educators and students, including teachers, staff, and administrators. It is my hope that, through this handbook, educators can understand and be more aware about culturally responsive SEL and why this needs to be implemented in schools.