Equipping Classroom Teachers for English Language Learners

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<ul><li><p>Communities of Participation in TESOL</p><p>Equipping Classroom Teachersfor English Language Learners</p><p>JI YOUNG KIMFayetteville State University</p><p>COLLEEN WALKERCampbellsville University</p><p>PRISCILLA MANARINO-LEGGETTFayetteville State University</p><p>The purpose of this article is to describe the Quality EducatorsAcademy (QEA), a year-long training for K-8 classroom teachersthat was funded by a NC ESEA Title IIA Improving TeacherQuality (NC QUEST) Grant. Key features of the project as wellas the design and content of the training contributed to successin recruiting, retaining, and effectively training classroom teach-ers to work with ELLs. The authors, who implemented a QEAin North Carolina, share what they did in detail so that othersinterested in equipping classroom teachers with research-basedbest practices for meeting the needs of English language learn-ers may learn from their efforts. This article describes keyfeatures of the project: collaboration, recruitment and selectionof participants, professional development design, and trainingand content delivery.doi: 10.1002/tesj.40</p><p>Graduate students in our Master of Education programfrequently ask how it is possible to teach content to Englishlanguage learners (ELLs) with limited English language proficiency.Classroom teachers in our state of North Carolina are alsoconcerned that they are held accountable for ELLs performance onstate mandated tests. These concerns illustrate the impact that thegrowing number of ELLs in our schools is having and indicate thegeneral lack of teacher expertise to deal with this new situation.</p><p>722 TESOL Journal 3.4, December 2012 2012 TESOL International Association</p></li><li><p>While training teachers at our institution, we discovered a dire needfor high-quality professional development for classroom teachersfocused on effective practices for meeting the needs of the growingpopulation of English language learners.</p><p>The number of ELLs has grown exponentially nationally and inNorth Carolina over the past decade. Nationally, the number ofindividuals who speak languages other than English increasedfrom 23.1 to 55.4 million between 1980 and 2007 (Skinner, Wight,Aratani, Cooper, &amp; Thampi, 2010). Also, according to the NationalClearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA; www.ncela.gwu.edu), the number of ELLs grew nearly 400% from 1996to 2006. The state of North Carolina mirrors the national statistics.</p><p>The literature also indicates that classroom teachers areunderprepared to teach ELLs. Although No Child Left Behind(NCLB) called for highly qualified teachers in every core academicclassroom, there is a significant shortage of teachers qualified toteach ELLs (National Commission on Teaching Americas Future[NCTAF], 1996). Moreover, most states do not require allclassroom teachers with ELLs to have specialized training. Inaddition, the majority of teacher preparation colleges do notadequately provide education majors with strategies for teachinglinguistically and culturally diverse students (Gandara &amp; Maxwell-Jolly, 2000). In the Schools and Staffing Survey (National Center orEducation Statistics, 2002), 41.2% of the 2,984,781 public schoolteachers had 8 or more hours of ELL training in the previous3 years. Thus, many ELLs receive much of their instruction fromteachers who have not had appropriate professional development toaddress second language development needs or to make contentinstruction comprehensible (Echevarria, Vogt, &amp; Short, 2008).</p><p>The purpose of this article is to share what we learned fromimplementing the Quality Educators Academy (QEA), a year-longtraining project for K-8 classroom teachers in the CumberlandCounty School District in North Carolina, which was funded by anESEA Title IIA Improving Teacher Quality (NC QUEST) Grant.We begin with a brief outline of the project to provide context,then share the critical features of the project as well as strengthsand weaknesses so that those who embark on a similar effort maybenefit from our experience.</p><p>Equipping Classroom Teachers for English Language Learners 723</p></li><li><p>THE QUALITY EDUCATORS ACADEMY (QEA)The overall goal of QEAwas to increase the number of K8 teacherswho are highly qualified in effectively developing ELLs literacy andacademic language needed for content-area learning. The projectwas carefully designed to try andmeet the needs of all involved. Weoffered benefits that we thought would be attractive to teachers anddeveloped a training schedule to accommodate teachers busyschedules. Finally, we implemented a train-the-trainer professionaldevelopment design to ensure that the information providedthrough this training would be shared with other teachers. In thissection we briefly discuss the following key features of the project:collaboration, recruitment and selection of participants, professionaldevelopment design, training content and delivery, and evaluation.Table 1 presents a summary of the QEA key features.</p><p>CollaborationThe QEA was designed collaboratively between the universityand school district. Through weekly meetings an interdisciplinaryteam consisting of faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences(CAS) and the School of Education (SOE), along with the ESLCoordinator and the grant officer from the local school district,worked together to write the grant proposal. Once the grant wasobtained each of the partners had distinct responsibilities. Theuniversity faculty served as project director, co-director, andconsultant. Faculty members focused on administrative tasks aswell as planning, delivering, and evaluating the training. The ESLcoordinator and her staff from the local school district focused onidentifying schools, recruiting participants, informing teachersof school district policies, and participating in the training.The universityschool district collaboration as well as theinterdisciplinary collaboration among university faculty proved tobe critical to the success of the project. This aspect of the projectwill be discussed in more detail later.</p><p>RecruitmentWe sent letters to principals of schools with the highest numberof ELLs, informing them of the grant and inviting them to select</p><p>724 TESOL Journal</p></li><li><p>TABLE1.</p><p>Overview</p><p>ofKey</p><p>FeaturesofQualityEducatorsAcadem</p><p>y</p><p>Collaboration</p><p>Participants</p><p>ProfessionalDevelopment</p><p>Design</p><p>TrainingContentand</p><p>Delivery</p><p>Evaluation</p><p>August2007</p><p>July</p><p>2008</p><p>Betweenuniversity</p><p>facultyandschool</p><p>districtpersonnel</p><p>Interdisciplinary</p><p>collaborationam</p><p>ong</p><p>university</p><p>faculty</p><p>from</p><p>SOEandCAS</p><p>Recruitment</p><p>Letters</p><p>toprincipalsof</p><p>schoolswith</p><p>highest</p><p>number</p><p>ofELLs</p><p>Principals</p><p>coordinate</p><p>withESL</p><p>coordinatorto</p><p>selectteachers</p><p>toparticipate</p><p>Description</p><p>28participants</p><p>21</p><p>elem</p><p>entary</p><p>and7</p><p>middleschool</p><p>teachers</p><p>26females,2males</p><p>Train-the-trainer</p><p>Long-term</p><p>andongoing</p><p>Year-longsched</p><p>ule</p><p>included</p><p>:5-day</p><p>summer</p><p>institute;onewhole-day</p><p>sessionper</p><p>month</p><p>for</p><p>7monthsduringthe</p><p>schoolyear;3-day</p><p>culm</p><p>ination</p><p>the</p><p>following</p><p>summer</p><p>Substitute</p><p>teachersto</p><p>relieveteachersfor</p><p>full-day</p><p>trainings</p><p>duringtheschool</p><p>year</p><p>Employed</p><p>theSIO</p><p>PWeek-LongSummer</p><p>Training</p><p>Team-building,sharingof</p><p>experienceswithELLs,</p><p>collectionofpre-self-</p><p>assessmentdata,</p><p>explorationoffirst-and</p><p>second-lan</p><p>guage</p><p>acquisition,andan</p><p>introductionto</p><p>SIO</p><p>P.</p><p>Monthly</p><p>Sessions</p><p>Participantsdeveloped</p><p>lessonplansarounda</p><p>grade-ap</p><p>propriate</p><p>conceptthey</p><p>wereteaching;</p><p>incorporatedtheSIO</p><p>Pcomponentsinto</p><p>their</p><p>lessonplan;im</p><p>plemented</p><p>thenew</p><p>lylearned</p><p>ideasin</p><p>classroom;shared</p><p>and</p><p>reflectedontheirlessons,</p><p>added</p><p>onnew</p><p>SIO</p><p>Pcomponents.</p><p>Form</p><p>ative</p><p>assessments</p><p>conducted</p><p>throughout</p><p>thetraining</p><p>Pre/post-</p><p>assessments</p><p>Participant</p><p>surveysand</p><p>reflections</p><p>Principal</p><p>survey</p><p>Portfoliorubric</p><p>Summative</p><p>assessment</p><p>conducted</p><p>by</p><p>external</p><p>evaluator</p><p>Equipping Classroom Teachers for English Language Learners 725</p></li><li><p>TABLE1.(Continued)</p><p>Collaboration</p><p>Participants</p><p>Professional</p><p>Development</p><p>Design</p><p>TrainingContentand</p><p>Delivery</p><p>Evaluation</p><p>Participantsshared</p><p>avideo</p><p>oftheirteachingat</p><p>the</p><p>endoftheacad</p><p>emy.</p><p>Three-DaySummer</p><p>Culm</p><p>ination</p><p>Participantscreateda</p><p>professional</p><p>developmentplanwith</p><p>theirschoolprincipal;</p><p>worked</p><p>together</p><p>todevelopatraining</p><p>packet</p><p>which</p><p>included</p><p>aPowerPoint</p><p>presentation.</p><p>Principalsandschool</p><p>districtpersonnel</p><p>participated</p><p>ina</p><p>recognitionceremonyfor</p><p>participantsonthelast</p><p>day</p><p>oftheQEA</p><p>where</p><p>participantsshowcased</p><p>theirlearningexperiences,</p><p>whichincluded</p><p>artifacts</p><p>oftheirwork</p><p>withELLs.</p><p>726 TESOL Journal</p></li><li><p>a classroom teacher to participate in the year-long training.Principals in consultation with the school systems ESLCoordinator selected teachers who had at least three yearsteaching experience and who exhibited leadership qualities. Theexpectations of participants and benefits for participating werepresented to prospective participants in the form of acommitment letter. The expectations included making a year-long commitment, attending all training sessions, beginning withthe summer, returning to their current school for the followingschool year, and training other teachers in their schools. Thebenefits included becoming highly qualified at working withELLs and knowing how to implement Sheltered InstructionObservation Protocol (SIOP) using a variety of strategies forworking with ELLs, receiving a daily stipend for attending thesummer training sessions, paying substitute teachers to covertheir classes while they attended once-per-month trainingsessions, earning six graduate credits that could be appliedtowards a Masters in Reading or an ESL Add-on License, andreceiving materials to conduct staff development in their schools.With this approach, we successfully recruited and retained 28participants.</p><p>ParticipantsOut of 28 participants, 21 were elementary classroom teachersand 7 were middle school teachers. Two were male and 26were female. Cumberland County, North Carolina is designatedas a low-wealth area and has one of the largest Hispanicpopulations. According to the 2004 estimates, Hispanics makeup 6.2% of the countys population. The school district serves alinguistically and culturally diverse student population due toits proximity to Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base. Presently,in the school district, 20 full-time ESL teachers serve ELLsenrolled in 78 schools in grades K12. Of those 20 ESLteachers, 11 are fully certified in ESL. The shortage of ESLteachers serving ELLs in grades K12 only magnified the needfor highly qualified teachers who can effectively andappropriately meet the needs of ELLs in their classrooms.</p><p>Equipping Classroom Teachers for English Language Learners 727</p></li><li><p>Professional Development DesignWe designed a tiered train-the-trainer professional developmentacademy that was long term, ongoing, and substantial. Thisdecision was influenced by the literature on professionaldevelopment. According to Gonzalez and Darling-Hammond(1997), in order to be effective professional development effortsmust be ongoing, sustained, and targeted to the teachersclassroom needs (p. 55). We decided on a year-long academy thatbegan with a 5-day summer institute followed by one whole-daysession per month for 7 months, and ended with a 3-dayculmination the following summer. In designing this academy wethought about the teachers needs. We did not want themattending training in the evenings after a full day of work. Besides,many of them attended graduate school in the evenings. We alsodid not want teachers to give up time on Saturdays. We wantedthem to be fresh and fully engaged in the training activities.</p><p>Training Content and DeliveryAccording to Darling-Hammond and McLaughlin (1995),professional development strategies found to improve teachingare: sustained, intensive development strategies with modeling,coaching, and problem-solving; collaborative endeavors foreducators to share knowledge; experiential opportunities thatengage teachers in actual teaching, assessment, and observation;and development grounded in research but also drawing fromteacher experience and inquiry, connected to the teachers classes,students, and subjects taught (p. 598). Additionally, researchshows differences in teacher quality to be among the mostimportant factors accounting for differences in students academicgrowth from year to year. Some claim it is the most importantfactor (Wright, Horn, &amp; Sanders, 1997). As we planned experiences,we consciously incorporated many of these best practices.</p><p>The academy was also designed to meet the program objectives.By the end of the academy we expected participants to: (1) supportELLs literacy development, (2) use effective teaching methods anddifferentiated instruction to support ELLs second language (L2)development and academic language skills, (3) use effectivealternative assessment methods, (4) collaborate and serve as a</p><p>728 TESOL Journal</p></li><li><p>resource for their peers, (5) demonstrate greater understanding ofcultural differences and conflicts and promote the creation ofdesirable cross-cultural interactions, and (6) demonstrate growth inthe literacy and content-area learning of ELLs.</p><p>We used the SIOP because it is a state-adopted model for ESLteachers. We wanted QEA participants to be able to speak thesame language when coordinating with the ESL teachers at theirschools. We implemented SIOP to be used in a wide variety ofclassrooms: those with all ELLs, those with a mix of native andnonnative English speakers, those with students who have strongacademic backgrounds, those with students who have had limitedformal schooling, and those with students of different levels ofEnglish proficiency.</p><p>At the monthly all-day sessions, participants developed lessonplans around a grade-appropriate concept they were teaching andincorporated the SIOP components into their lesson plan. Theyreturned to their classroom and implemented the newly learnedideas. The participants shared and reflected on their lessons, andlearned one or two more components of the SIOP. At theconclusion of the seven months, the participants shared a video ofthemselves teaching the full lesson. They were provided feedbackon the lessons from their colleagues, as well as the ESLcoordinator and her staff.</p><p>Evaluation of QEAThe main purpose of the evaluation was to assess the objectives ofthe QEA. We used formative assessments such as feedback onlessons and group discussions throughout the academy.Additionally, as part of the requirement of the grant, an externalevaluator conducted a summative evaluation using a variety ofdata sources including pre- and post-assessments, workshopevaluations, and a portfolio rubric.</p><p>DISCUSSION</p><p>Project StrengthsCollaboration made this academy successful. The university had along history of collaboration with the school district; therefore, it</p><p>Equipping Classroom Teachers for English Language Learners 729</p></li><li><p>was not difficult for us to connect with school district personnel.Since we involved the ESL Coordinator in the grant writingprocess, the QEA goals were consistent with the school districtsgood to great classroom initiative. Characteristics of good to greatclassrooms included positive emotional climate, clear measurablegoals, active engagement, meaningful learning, academic rigor,and continuous feedback. The...</p></li></ul>

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