Quality Teaching for English Learners by WestEd
The advent of the 21st century and the evolution of an increasingly global economy have striking implications for providing high-quality education for all students. In the new global economy, with many new jobs being automated or outsourced abroad, the skills that students need in order to build successful futures for themselves, their families, and their communities have changed dramatically from those required in the second half of the last century. A new world culture requires citizens with new tools and practices; citizens who are able to work in multilingual, multicultural settings. As our children enter into a world requiring more complex skills and knowledge, greater language and cultural awareness, they need parallel educational opportunities utilizing dramatically different tools, skills, and practices. In an era of globalization and shift to a “knowledge” economy, equipping diverse learners with the skills expected of all of all high school graduates in the 21st century is an urgent task.
New standards such as the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) provide an opportunity to meet the new demands of a more globalized, complex world. These standards highlight the expectations for what students do with language as they engage in content- area learning. Such expectations are consistent with the understanding among second language educators that, given content- and language-rich learning environments in which meaningful interactions with teachers and peers are fostered, students can both acquire language and use their emerging English to engage in content learning (Bunch, Kibler, & Pimentel, 2012; Moschkovich, 2012; Quinn, Lee, & Valdés, 2012; van Lier & Walqui, 2012).
The challenge of the standards stems from the fact that supporting student’s content learning through a focus on language requires major shifts in perspective on language and language learning: from an individual process to a socially engaged process; from a linear building of structures and vocabulary aimed at correctness and fluency to a non-linear and complex developmental process focused on comprehension and communication; and from teaching language per se to supporting participation in activities that simultaneously develop disciplinary conceptual understanding, literacy, and language use (Walqui, 2012).
To support Campbell Union High School District in building the expertise of teachers and leaders to help their diverse learners develop the critical skills to succeed in the 21st century, we propose three lines of Quality Teaching for English Learners (QTEL) professional development services that can build sustainable capacity at the district and site levels: 1) a whole – school model of professional development and capacity building that targets different groups of participants for small cohort coaching on differential levels of learning, implementation and leadership; 2) district-wide professional development institutes for teachers and administrators to develop pedagogical expertise to work with all students in the development of disciplinary language and literacy; and 3) a QTEL Apprenticeship Model to develop a cadre of in-house professional developers able to sustain the development of teacher capacity over time.