It is well documented that of the many factors that contribute to and hinder student learning, one of the most powerful is the role of teachers (e.g., Fullan and Miles, 1992; Spillane, 1999; see Chapters 2, 4, and 5). It has also long been known that large-scale changes in student learning goals, such as those changes brought about by the latest national standards, depend on teachers gaining new knowledge and skills that, in turn, require new visions of support and guidance for teachers across the span of their teaching careers (e.g., Ball and Cohen, 1999; Borko, 2004; Wilson, Floden, and Ferrini-Mundy, 2001). When it comes to the more specific context of preparing teachers of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to challenge English learners (ELs) as successful learners of STEM subjects, the knowledge base is newer and not as deep, but there is a solid and rapidly expanding body of research to draw on (e.g., Buxton and Lee, 2014; Civil, 2014; Turner and Drake, 2016).
How to effectively support teachers of STEM in successfully challenging their ELs is a multifaceted issue that must address a broad range of factors. These include differences across grade-level bands, STEM disciplines, program models, teacher experience, geographic region, and broad variations within EL student populations. Such variability requires a move beyond general frameworks and generic best practices for teacher learning toward models that center the unique assets and needs of ELs when learning STEM subjects. As noted throughout this report, emerging models highlight promising practices in need of further testing and refinement. Although the challenges for teachers of STEM working with ELs are substantial, and the unanswered questions are numerous, there is much to be optimistic about
for those engaged in the work of teacher education in support of ELs in STEM. As described in Chapter 2, high-quality bilingual programs have been shown to yield positive student outcomes; however, in this chapter, we do not specifically attend to the preparation of bilingual teachers to teach STEM in these settings.
This chapter builds upon the ideas surrounding how to integrate content and language as articulated in Chapter 3 and the instructional strategies that can facilitate this as described in Chapter 4. Moreover, it builds upon interactions that teachers may have when leveraging ELs’ assets by engaging with their students’ families and communities, as presented in Chapter 5. We begin with describing specific issues associated with preservice teacher preparation followed by in-service preparation. We then describe themes that cut across the full spectrum of teacher learning opportunities and conclude the chapter with a discussion of specific needs for teacher educators.1
Many teacher education programs in the United States fail to adequately consider that in the 21st century, nearly all classrooms throughout the country include students whose first language is not English (Cochran-Smith et al., 2016). As described in more detail in Chapter 8, although there are a number of states that have policies that do require a minimum number of courses or specific certification to teach ELs, many teachers are unprepared to teach content to ELs (Ballantyne, Sanderman, and Levy, 2008; Darling-Hammond, 2006; Gándara, Maxwell-Jolly, and Driscoll, 2005; Villegas and Lucas, 2002). In science particularly, in a survey of elementary teachers, only 15 percent reported feeling adequately prepared to teach science to ELs (Banilower et al., 2013, Table 2.33). Secondary science teachers similarly do not feel prepared to teach science to ELs (Banilower et al., 2013, Table 2.33), and some have indicated that they would consult with English as a second language (ESL) teachers to meet the needs of these students (Cho and McDonnough, 2009; Chval and Pinnow, 2010).
Further, for teachers who work with immigrant and emergent bilingual students, the lack of a foundation for understanding the cultural, linguistic, and social class aspects of their pedagogical actions creates cultural distance between teachers and students who are different from themselves (Valencia, 2010). Educators’ deficit views of immigrant and emergent bilingual stu-
1 This chapter includes content drawn from papers commissioned by the committee titled Teachers’ Knowledge and Beliefs about English Learners and Their Impact on STEM Learning by Julie Bianchini (2018), Mathematics Education and Young Dual Language Learners by Sylvia Celedón-Pattichis (2018), Secondary Science Education for English Learners by Sara Tolbert (2018), and The Role of the ESL Teacher in Relation to Content Teachers by Sultan Turkan (2018).
dents and their families are well documented (Adair, 2014; Eberly, Joshi, and Konzal, 2007), and such deficit thinking too often builds on preexisting public media and social representations of these students’ limited possibilities rather than on meaningful firsthand experience.
Ball (1990, p. 12) wrote, “Prospective teachers, equipped with vivid images to guide their actions, are inclined to teach just as they were taught.” In addition, teachers filter information about new ways of teaching, such as those acquired from methods courses and field experiences, through their prior knowledge and experience of being a student in K–12 classrooms as well as through their existing cultural expectations (Stein, Smith, and Silver, 1999). Moreover, preservice teachers enter their university coursework with strong beliefs about ELs and language as it relates to content instruction (Chval and Pinnow, 2010; Pinnow and Chval, 2015; Vomvoridi-Ivanovic and Chval, 2014). In this section, we describe research that is specific to supporting preservice teacher candidates in STEM to work with ELs.
Self-Examination of Perceptions of Cultural and Linguistic Backgrounds
Teachers’ own cultural, racial, ethnic, and social class backgrounds influence their instructional practices as well as other roles that teachers play for their students (e.g., mentor, role model, etc.). Thus, teacher education programs that explicitly focus on preservice teachers’ backgrounds as related to their pedagogical practices, such as through community-based immersion programs for prospective teachers (see Box 6-1), can serve to bridge social and cultural gaps between teachers and their students (Ajayi, 2011). For example, Vomvoridi-Ivanovic’s (2012) study of preservice teachers’ use of cultural resources in an after-school bilingual mathematics club pointed to how the nature of the activity influenced the degree to which the preservice teachers attempted to make cultural connections. When the activities looked less like formal schoolwork, preservice teachers made more frequent cultural connections.
Cultural connections are also strengthened when preservice teachers have repeated opportunities to teach the same mathematics lesson repeatedly to small groups of students, to conduct task-based interviews with ELs, and to conduct the same interview with several children (Chval, 2004). Such approaches both enable preservice teachers to focus their attention on students’ development of mathematical understanding and on how their actions impact that understanding. Preservice teachers reported that when given the chance to teach the same lesson to small groups of students multiple times, they were able to focus their attention on student thinking and communication rather than on classroom management. The preservice teachers had expected that every iteration of the same lesson would be the
same and were surprised to find that every lesson was different because children’s contributions and struggles took the lessons in different directions.
Siwatu (2007) found that preservice teachers felt more efficacious in their ability to help ELs feel like important members of their classroom community and in their ability to develop positive, personal relationships with their students than they did about their ability to communicate effectively about content learning with ELs. Chval and Pinnow (2010) found that preservice teachers, with limited knowledge about how to meet the needs of ELs, made assumptions that other educators with specialized knowledge and experience (i.e., translators, tutors, ESL specialists, parents, and peers) would be available to support ELs in their future classrooms. They also assumed that translating curriculum materials to the child’s first language would be helpful, not realizing that some ELs may not be literate in the printed word in their native language, especially in the academic language of mathematics. Teacher preparation programs that include experiences specifically aimed at addressing the often implicit assumptions, beliefs, and expectations that teachers have in regard to working with ELs have the potential to address these and other misguided assumptions on the part of preservice teachers (Vomvoridi-Ivanovic and Chval, 2014).
Teacher education rarely includes an understanding of the role that ideology plays in teacher preparation in terms of cultural, linguistic, and social-class diversity (Bartolomé, 2004). There are political and ideological dimensions to education, particularly for vulnerable student populations, and these factors can have an adverse impact on teachers’ work with these students (Bartolomé, 2010). For example, traditional views of mathematics hold it as a universal language that is transferable from one language to another (Remillard and Cahnmann, 2005). As a result, preservice teachers may assume that learning mathematics requires the ability to master a well-defined and culture-free body of knowledge (Boero, Douek, and Ferrari, 2008). This perspective limits the role of language in mathematics to mathematical vocabulary, notation, metaphors, and jargon. As Gutiérrez (2002) pointed out, an acceptance of the universality of mathematics has decreased the attention paid to students’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds as they connect to mathematics, an area in critical need of further attention.
Field Experiences and Community-Based Experiences
Equipping preservice teachers to teach STEM to ELs requires not only specific coursework on culturally responsive and equity-focused pedagogy, but also well-designed field experiences that align with and support the practices that preservice teachers learn in their coursework. Field experiences, although they may differ within and across institutions, are those designed with the intention to provide first-hand experience with what the
job of teaching is like and to give practical reality to concepts encountered in university work (Wilson, Floder, and Ferrini-Mundy, 2001). For example, international or study-abroad field experiences have been associated with changes in preservice teachers’ dispositions toward ELs (Li, 2007; Nero, 2009). In addition to the value of field experiences in school settings and abroad experiences, contact and collaboration with diverse ethnolinguistic communities in out-of-school settings can also support preservice teachers in considering how to teach STEM content to ELs (García et al., 2010; McDonald et al., 2011).
Gross and colleagues (2010) pointed to the importance of preservice teachers engaging in ongoing examination of their self-perceptions as teachers and their perceptions of ELs during field experiences. The researchers found that participants’ teaching identities became more specific and elaborated over time during multiple field experiences in classrooms with large percentages of culturally and linguistically diverse students. Similarly, in a study of one elementary teacher preparation program that infused ESL preparation throughout the program, Harper and colleagues (2007) found that graduates reported high degrees of preparedness for and efficacy in working with ELs in classroom settings, and that their field experiences with ELs were cited as the most helpful component of the preservice preparation program in this regard.
Wilson, Floden, and Ferrini-Mundy (2001) reviewed the literature on field experiences and concluded that too often, field experiences are not well coordinated with the goals and content of the university-based course work that is meant to provide the foundation for success in the field experience. Moreover, when preservice teachers become overwhelmed with the challenges of learning to teach in field experience settings, they quickly revert to the norms and practices of the schools that they attended as students, even when those norms are quite different from those envisioned by university instructors in their teacher preparation program (Eisenhart, Behm, and Romagnano, 1991). Regardless of their subject matter preparation, preservice teachers who lack strong management and instruction are typically unable to focus on what students need to learn (Dutton Tillery et al., 2010).
Many of the promising possibilities for using field experiences to support preservice teachers learning to teach STEM subjects to ELs attempt to explicitly address the shortcomings of field experiences (Bollin, 2007). For example, Athanases and Martin (2006) described how they thoughtfully and intentionally integrated specific teacher education coursework on culturally responsive and equity-focused pedagogy with the corresponding field experiences that were meant to support preservice teachers in practicing those strategies. A key component of this approach was the role that field supervisors played as explicit equity mentors for the preservice teachers.
After-school programs provide another possible context for preservice teachers to gain new skills and experiences working with ELs, but such spaces have received little research attention. In one such example, Vomvoridi-Ivanovic (2012) described the benefits of bilingual preservice teachers using Spanish in a bilingual after-school mathematics club. However, she also pointed out the difficulties that these preservice teachers encountered in part due to their lack of experience using Spanish in mathematical contexts and in part due to the children’s preference for English. Further study is needed about how field-based work can be used to specifically support preservice teachers of STEM to work with ELs; however, the limited work in this area shows promise.
Integration of Learning How to Teach Disciplinary Content and Disciplinary Language
Preservice teachers often begin their preparation with limited views of what will be expected of them when it comes to teaching content to ELs. For example, Chval and Pinnow (2010) collected data from 51 preservice elementary mathematics teachers who were asked about teaching mathematics to ELs who moved to the United States from Central America and China. They describe three critical misconceptions held by the preservice teachers: (1) differential treatment of ELs based on their country of origin; (2) isolation of ELs rather than integration into a learning community; and (3) outsourcing to meet the needs of ELs rather than these needs being the responsibility of all teachers. The perceptions of these preservice teachers are in sharp contrast to research on best practices for teaching mathematics to ELs, which include (1) not reduce ELs to stereotypes about members of a cultural group, (2) promote active EL participation in mathematical discussions, and (3) recognize the resources that ELs use to express mathematical ideas in order to facilitate participation and learning of ELs (e.g., Khisty and Chval, 2002; Moschkovich, 2002). Nutta, Mokhtari, and Strebel (2012) described a model that was used to address these challenges to infusing EL instruction into existing general teacher education programs that currently lack support for preparing teachers to work with ELs. The key steps involved in this approach included winning faculty support, conducting an honest needs assessment, and developing capacity among teacher educators. One of the challenges described was how EL content could be incorporated into standard core courses in the teacher preparation program, such as human development, working with students with special needs, and social foundations courses, as well as across subject area courses.
The composition of the teacher education faculty also seems to influence the integration of language supports and supports for ELs more broadly
in teacher preparation programs. For example, Lim and colleagues (2009) studied a range of teacher preparation programs and found that the presence of non-white full-time faculty in a teacher education program was positively correlated to more required coursework focused on engaging children and families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Other contextual features of the teacher preparation program, such as its degree of urbanization, its governance structure, and whether or not the program had National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education accreditation, were all associated with the amount of required coursework that was focused on working with bilingual children and ELs.
In the case of preparing preservice teachers to promote English language and literacy development for ELs in science, there is some evidence for the value of using inquiry-based pedagogies. For example, Shaw and colleagues (2014) described a modified elementary science methods course that also included professional development for cooperating teachers to improve teacher practice and student learning both for ELs and for non-ELs. The researchers concluded that the integration of science with language and literacy practices in an inquiry-driven process served to support preservice teachers in gaining skills to challenge ELs in their science classes while also improving the achievement of ELs in mastering science concepts and science writing. The study indicates that it is possible to begin to link the practices taught in preservice teacher preparation to novice teacher practice and to student learning outcomes.
A number of features associated with traditional STEM teacher education programs are detrimental to supporting ELs, including a failure to see the interconnectedness between first and second languages and cultures; fragmentation and isolation of language teaching and learning as separate for content teaching; a view of language learning that is over-reliant on vocabulary and grammar; and an implicit or explicit message that STEM subjects are culture free or based on a universal language. Moreover, little is known about the impact of the latest iterations of assessments of teacher candidates’ readiness to teach and whether the assessment is a valid measure of new teachers’ preparation to meet the needs of diverse learners (e.g., edTPA assessment adopted in many states; Baecher et al., 2017; Bunch, Aguirre, and Tellez, 2009, 2015; Ledwell and Oyler, 2016; Kleyn, López, and Makar, 2015). Gonzalez and Darling-Hammond (2000) pointed out that while programs that support ELs’ access to challenging content can be enhanced through teaching strategies that provide multiple pathways to the understanding of language and content, most teacher preparation programs continue to be influenced by practices that are detrimental to ELs.
When focused more specifically on preparing teachers to work effectively with ELs in the current context of standards-based disciplinary reforms, several models and frameworks have been proposed that highlight ways in which preparing to effectively teach ELs goes beyond general preparation for teaching well (e.g., Bunch, 2013; Lucas and Villegas, 2013; Turkan et al., 2014). Three of these frameworks were selected to highlight the need to prepare teachers to think in new ways about the integration of disciplinary language instruction with disciplinary content instruction.
One model, proposed by Bunch (2013), focuses on the purposeful integration of language and literacy into disciplinary STEM content instruction, as teachers and students engage in new ways of doing science and doing language together. These changing demands of STEM learning require teachers to develop enhanced pedagogical language knowledge (Galguera, 2011). Bunch argues that while there is broad agreement that teachers of ELs require new and deeper understandings about language, there is less agreement about what the exact nature of this enhanced linguistic understanding entails, as well as how it can best be developed. Bunch draws the distinction between pedagogical content knowledge about language, which represents the knowledge base possessed by effective teachers of a second language (i.e., ESL teachers), and pedagogical language knowledge, which highlights the knowledge base needed by content area teachers for integrating disciplinary language support with the other supports that facilitate learning of disciplinary content. While all content area teachers need to develop pedagogical language knowledge relevant to their discipline, such knowledge is critically important for teaching the disciplinary content areas to ELs.
In a similar effort to frame the preparation of content area teachers working with ELs, Lucas and Villegas (2013) proposed a model for the preparation of linguistically responsive teachers. Lucas and Villegas’ model is composed of three orientations and four types of pedagogical knowledge and skills that the researchers found to be fundamental to the development of linguistically responsive teaching practices. The three orientations are (1) sociolinguistic consciousness, (2) valuing linguistic diversity, and (3) an inclination to advocate for ELs. The four types of pedagogical knowledge and skills to be developed by content area teachers in this model are (1) a broad repertoire of strategies for learning about the linguistic and academic backgrounds of ELs, (2) the ability to apply key principles of second language learning, (3) the ability to identify the language demands of classroom tasks, and (4) a broad repertoire of strategies for scaffolding instruction for ELs.
These orientations and skills are then mapped onto Feiman-Nemser’s
(2001) central tasks, such as analyzing personal beliefs and preconceptions, developing an understanding of learners and learning, and developing the skills to study one’s own teaching practice. Although this model shows alignment between the central task of developing subject matter knowledge for teaching and the skill of identifying classroom language demands of particular disciplines, it does not differentiate among those disciplinary demands. Thus, while highlighting more general linguistically responsive tasks for teachers, such as developing tools for analyzing academic language, it does not specifically aid teachers of STEM subjects in identifying STEM-specific language demands and supports. Still, Lucas and Villegas’ model does important work to help move the field of content area teacher preparation toward a greater awareness of how to integrate teacher orientations and skills for supporting ELs from the outset of teacher preparation.
A third model, proposed by Turkan and colleagues (2014), develops an analytic framework for a teacher knowledge base that builds on current understandings of the role of language in teaching disciplinary content. This model of disciplinary linguistic knowledge (DLK) describes the knowledge base that is needed by teachers to facilitate ELs’ understanding of the discourse within a given academic discipline. More specifically, this model of DLK includes two related components of teachers’ knowledge as applied to disciplinary discourse: (1) teachers’ ability to identify linguistic features of the disciplinary discourse, and (2) teachers’ ability to model for ELs how to communicate disciplinary meaning through engaging students in using the language of the discipline, both orally and in writing. The first component is critical for making disciplinary content accessible for students to learn. The second component is critical for supporting students in expressing what they have learned. This distinction also helps point to the potential gap that may exist between a teacher’s knowledge of disciplinary discourse and that teacher’s ability to effectively challenge ELs in taking ownership of that discourse. Turkan et al. argue that the importance of understanding and applying the specialized knowledge base of DLK for teaching content to ELs is that it provides a framework to more clearly specify the role of teachers’ knowledge about their students’ language usage within the larger field of preparing teachers with the content knowledge needed for teaching effectively.
When taken together, these various models make the important point that when it comes to teaching ELs, context matters to such an extent that there may not be universal “best practices,” while also validating the idea that the knowledge about disciplinary language that teachers need to support and challenge ELs is different from just good teaching. What is required is a combination of high-quality content area teaching plus preparation in integrating disciplinary language needed to support and challenge ELs (Ramirez and Celedón-Pattichis, 2012). Although not specifi-
cally STEM-focused, these models clearly frame the scope of work needed to effectively prepare teachers of STEM subjects to work with ELs who must learn enough English to engage with grade appropriate content while learning the various disciplinary discourses that are challenging to many native language speakers.
Although there is substantial overlap between the needs of those learning to teach and the needs of those currently teaching, when it comes to supporting ELs in STEM learning, the research highlights a few key themes that are especially relevant to the ongoing professional learning of teachers who already have STEM teaching experience and who may or may not be new to having ELs in their classes.
Systemic Policy and Program Issues for Improving Professional Development
It has long been known that professional development can most effectively support practices when it is designed and presented in a systematic way. For example, the National Staff Development Council (NSDC; 2001) created a set of standards that support ongoing professional development with a commitment to rigorous learning that enhances “the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and beliefs necessary to create high levels of learning for all students” (National Staff Development Council, 2001, p. 2). The standards are organized into context standards (e.g., building learning communities involving leadership), process standards (e.g., research based; data driven), and content standards (e.g., aligned with content to be taught; integrates equity orientation).
In the specific case of improving professional development for teachers of STEM working with ELs, the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA) convened a Roundtable on Teacher Education and Professional Development of ELL Content Teachers in 2008, and subsequently, a report on what was known to be effective in this area of professional development (Ballantyne, Sanderman, and Levy, 2008). The report built on the NSDC standards mentioned above, highlighting the need for professional development that integrates relevant context, process, and content standards in a systemic way as central to improving professional development for teachers of STEM to ELs. More specifically, professional development on context standards highlight the need for integration of teacher learning communities focused on ELs’ content area learning, administrator support based on increased knowledge of ELs, and a plan for acquiring additional resources based on the specific needs of local EL populations. Professional development on process standards highlight the need to follow research-based design and evaluation practices that are appropriate for ELs with attention to building lasting collabora-
tions focused on ELs in which classroom teachers have an increased voice. Finally, when considering content standards, effective professional development for content area teachers working with ELs integrates a focus on equity, research-based teaching strategies, and strategies for enhancing family engagement (see Chapter 5).
A review, conducted by Khong and Saito (2014), highlighted the types of challenges that in-service teachers face when teaching ELs. The researchers concluded that social, institutional, and personal challenges, all of which extend beyond the classroom, are each relevant features that need to be addressed through systemic reform of which teacher professional development is one central component (see also Buxton, Kayumova, and Allexsaht-Snider, 2013; Newman, Samimy, and Romstedt, 2010). Ensuring adequate numbers of teachers who can be successful at meeting the STEM learning needs of ELs will necessitate effective professional development that takes intentional steps to retain teachers effective at working with underrepresented students. Many professional development programs for science and mathematics teachers fall short in this regard because they fail to consider teacher background, experience, knowledge, beliefs, and needs, instead treating teacher professional learning needs as homogenous (Loucks-Horsley et al., 2003). To build effective professional development systems requires adequate assessment of individual teachers’ professional development needs, expectations, prior experiences, and constraints (Chval et al., 2008).
Rapid changes in policies and practices, both nationwide and at the state level, have led to ambiguity in language education policy, often resulting in instability and confusion for teachers (Walqui  provided guidance on some priorities that could help teachers evaluate and improve the quality of instruction in their classroom). For example, Varghese and Stritikus (2005) studied bilingual teachers in two states, finding that many were looking for ways to become more involved in policy and decision making regarding the education of ELs. The researchers argued that gaining an understanding of language policy and decision-making processes is a greatly underdeveloped professional role for teachers who are experienced in supporting ELs in their classrooms. Despite this need, teacher professional learning that includes the dimension of policy advocacy is almost nonexistent and little is known about how to effectively build such a policy dimension into teacher professional learning.
Build on Research-Based Practices to Improve Professional Development
One trend in professional development for in-service teachers that has been notable for some time is the tendency of school districts to contract with private individuals or companies to provide professional develop-
ment for teachers (Ball, 2009). Often these are one-time workshops with limited or no follow-up that adhere to few if any of the characteristics of effective teacher learning models that have been discussed throughout this chapter. However, when teachers have adequate opportunities for professional development for teaching ELs and have more opportunities to teach ELs early in their teaching career, they are more effective as teachers of ELs (Boyd et al., 2009; Master et al., 2016).
Most teachers of STEM report that they are generally knowledgeable about the content in their curriculum at their grade level. For example, Lee and colleagues (2009) found that elementary teachers felt comfortable with their grade-level science content, with teaching that science to promote students’ understanding and inquiry, and with talking about that content with their teaching peers. In contrast, the teachers reported rarely discussing student diversity, home culture, or home language in their own teaching or with other teachers at their schools. Moreover, Bowers and colleagues (2010) interviewed veteran teachers who mentioned that professional development programs would benefit from focusing on the use of metacognitive strategies and direct instruction regarding academic language.
Similarly, Molle (2013) studied the facilitation practices used in a professional development program for supporting ELs using three analytical lenses: participation context, ideological context, and content of the professional development work. As described in Box 6-2, Molle (2013) found that the value of using these different analytical lenses was that they provided rationales that supported the use of key research-based recommendations on effective professional development for educators of ELs. This model made it easier to make the case to district administrators for changes in the district approach to teacher professional development to support ELs.
The 5E instructional model in science education, which highlights strategies for students to Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend, and Evaluate their learning has been well documented as a successful framework for guiding teacher professional learning to support general reform-based practices (Bybee et al., 2006; Trowbridge and Bybee, 1996). Manzo and colleagues (2012) showed that the 5E model can also serve to frame professional development for secondary science teachers who are explicitly focused on increasing the participation and learning of ELs. The researchers found that after experienced science teachers practiced implementing the 5E model with their ELs, these students increased their engagement and use of explanation, and had increased opportunities to elaborate their understanding of science content.
Rather than arguing that experienced teachers need to implement reform-oriented practices with fidelity, Buxton and colleagues (2015) instead argued that professional learning for experienced teachers who are new to working with ELs needs to support those teachers in taking owner-
ship and agency in terms of how they engage in professional learning and how they enact the recommended practices in their classrooms. Moreover, Chval and colleagues (2018) found that effective teachers of ELs learn to notice the types of interactions that support ELs in their content area learning and take these into account when observing students’ partnership.
Despite the growing awareness that ELs bring many assets to the
general education classroom, many teachers continue to hold deficit perspectives with regard to their ELs’ learning potential in STEM subjects. Research on teachers’ beliefs about and self-efficacy regarding teaching ELs in classrooms points to a clear need for continued professional development efforts to help all teachers learn to take an asset-oriented approach. Pettit (2011) identified factors, such as training in teaching ELs, years of teach-
ing experience, and exposure to language diversity, that act as predictors of teachers’ beliefs about ELs. Thus, not all experienced teachers hold views that are likely to help ELs to excel in their classes.
Building asset-oriented perspectives for teaching ELs often falls to school-based instructional coaches who routinely serve as facilitators of professional development for teachers working with ELs. While on-site coaches have the advantage of knowing the teachers and students at the school, Chien (2013) found that teachers who received professional development in this way reported limited usefulness due to a lack of follow up from the instructional coaches. Thus, limited access to high-quality and research-based professional development specifically targeted to meeting the needs and building on the strengths of ELs in STEM remains a substantial obstacle to ELs’ success in STEM classrooms.
In this section, we describe research that addresses seven cross-cutting themes that are relevant to supporting all teachers of STEM subjects who work with ELs, regardless of the STEM discipline, grade-level band, English proficiency level of the students, or level of experience of the teacher. Although additional research is still needed to provide strong causal links between the strategies described and student outcomes, the review suggests that these strategies show promise. As such, the following themes for all teachers of STEM to consider include
- Theme 1: Explicit Integration of STEM Content and Disciplinary Language
- Theme 2: Use and Adaptation of Reform-Based Curriculum
- Theme 3: Shared Professional Learning Experiences for ESL and STEM Content Teachers
- Theme 4: Facilitation of Multilingual Instructional Approaches in STEM Classrooms
- Theme 5: Engagement with Families
- Theme 6: Use of Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies and Explicit Attention to Equity
- Theme 7: Targeted Teacher Learning around Common Societal Biases and Beliefs
Explicit Integration of STEM Content and Disciplinary Language
Teachers of STEM require additional education around using and facilitating disciplinary discourse and how this can be integrated into their
content area instruction, as it is now widely accepted that language development and content learning are interrelated (Snow and Brinton, 1997). Teachers can learn to orchestrate ways to move students from one language register to another. Because language is implicated in knowledge generation, this requires explicit knowledge about how the intentional use of language shapes students’ meaning-making (see Chapters 3 and 4). The following studies present evidence for different models that support ways in which teachers can learn to explicitly integrate STEM content and disciplinary language.
A few large-scale studies of multiyear interventions point to positive outcomes of helping teachers more fully integrate language and content instruction. Lee and colleagues (2008) studied the development of elementary teachers’ knowledge of science content, their teaching for understanding, their teaching of science inquiry, and their support for English language development (ELD). They found that after multiple years of professional development, the teachers’ knowledge and practices were generally aligned with these four professional development goals of the intervention; however, the teachers’ knowledge and practices fell short of the more ambitious instantiations of these goals.
Similarly, studies of the effects of teachers being trained to use the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) model have shown that these teachers’ preparation improved the academic language performance of middle and high school ELs (e.g., Short, Fidelman, and Louguit, 2012). For example, Zwiep and colleagues (2011) studied a district’s implementation of a blended science and ELD program, designed using many of the SIOP principles. The researchers found that this model prepared teachers to provide ELs with multiple opportunities to develop English language proficiency through participation in challenging inquiry-based science, and, in particular, they found that teachers’ use of a combined science/ELD lesson plan format was a critical component to guide these teachers’ efforts. However, the research base is not uniformly positive, with some studies showing no significant student outcomes (U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, and What Works Clearinghouse, 2013).
In another systemic, multiyear project, Stoddart and colleagues (2010) described a framework for preparing science teachers to work with ELs that is based on two bodies of sociocultural research: the CREDE Five Standards for Effective Pedagogy and the existing integrated science, language, and literacy instruction literature. The resulting ESTELL framework was used to prepare elementary teachers with five sets of socially, culturally, and linguistically responsive instructional practices: (1) practices for integrating science, language, and literacy development; (2) practices for engaging students in scientific discourse; (3) practices for developing scientific understanding; (4) practices for collaborative inquiry in science learning; and (5)
practices for contextualizing science learning. The researchers found that teachers in the project learned to use these five sets of practices together to model linguistically responsive instruction that demonstrated the teachers’ growth in awareness of students’ specific linguistic demands while increasing teachers’ ability to design and implement subject matter instruction integrated with language development activities.
Similar studies of mathematics teaching have pointed to the importance of teachers learning to engage ELs in discourse (e.g., eliciting vs. modeling) (Hansen-Thomas, 2009; Khisty and Chval, 2002). A 3-year professional development intervention by Chval, Pinnow, and Thomas (2015) provides evidence that suggests that content area teachers can improve their ability to engage and teach ELs effectively by developing as teachers of language as well as teachers of content. This intervention involved four components of the teachers’ work: support for the development of mathematics, support for the development of language, enhanced tasks in curriculum materials, and facilitation of productive classroom interactions. Video data excerpts demonstrated the readiness with which both ELs and monolingual students engaged with talk about language, as teachers learned to create an environment where student ideas about both language and mathematics became important topics for clarification and discussion.
The use of genre-based pedagogies can prepare teachers to integrate explicit disciplinary language learning with content area learning. From a functional perspective on language, genres (see Chapter 3 for the earlier discussion on registers) are ways of getting things done or achieving a social purpose through language use. Thus, a genre-based pedagogy in a discipline like science or mathematics would highlight how language is used in that discipline to make grade-appropriate meaning at each level of schooling. Gebhard, Demers, and Castillo-Rosenthal (2008) used this approach in work with teachers to support the literacy practices of ELs (see Box 6-3). Educative assessment materials also have the potential to help teachers develop new strategies for integrating genre-based language and content teaching in STEM. For example, teachers learned to seek out and build upon how their students were using their emergent scientific language to make meaning, rather than focusing primarily on the gaps and limitations of their ELs’ English language usage (Buxton et al., 2013).
Despite this emerging research, many teachers of STEM equate disciplinary language with disciplinary vocabulary. This limited view of language has been critiqued in instruction for ELs (e.g., Krashen, 2011). It has also been critiqued by researchers who study other aspects of vocabulary acquisition, such as proponents of a focus on general academic vocabulary (e.g., Snow, 2010). Yet, technical vocabulary is one key feature of disciplinary discourse in STEM subjects (Fang, 2005), and teachers can learn to sup-
port ELs’ technical vocabulary development in ways that are contextualized to support meaning-making (Pollard-Durodola et al., 2012).
Use and Adaptation of Reform-Based Curriculum
As students move through the grade levels, both the science concepts and the disciplinary language used to express and make meaning of those concepts become more abstract. This poses an increasing challenge for teachers of secondary school-aged ELs. Indeed, high school teachers of STEM subjects working with ELs claim that among their greatest needs are access to instructional materials that support ELs in learning grade-appropriate content plus the pedagogical training specifically designed to help them use these materials in effective ways (Cho and McDonnough, 2009).
Curriculum units designed to integrate instructional strategies that support language and content together can provide teachers with valuable tools to lead ELs to construct more sophisticated understanding of that content while also using more language to communicate their knowledge. For example, Weinburgh and colleagues (2014) showed how teacher educators engaged teachers in a summer school program to prepare them to adapt a set of inquiry-based instructional units to more effectively integrate language and science instruction in response to the goals of the Next Generation Science Standards (see Box 6-4; see also Brown and Ryoo, 2008; Brown, Ryoo, and Rodriguez, 2010). Similarly, Khisty (1993) argued that curriculum activities need to be “designed so that children . . . explore new experiences and acquire new information . . . and] are encouraged to employ their linguistic resources, thus mastering an expanding range of new register” (p. 197).
Lara-Alecio and colleagues (2012) designed and studied an intervention that combined ongoing professional development for middle school science teachers who worked with large numbers of ELs that was rooted in a series of integrated inquiry-based curriculum units. Teacher scaffolding embedded in the curriculum highlighted direct and explicit instruction in reading, writing, and vocabulary enrichment in English, take-home science activities for families, and review of lessons by university scientists to ensure rigorous, current, and accurate content. Research on the effectiveness of the intervention found that teachers who were trained in the use of these curricular materials were more successful as compared to teachers using the standard district curriculum.
In another longitudinal study that used curriculum units as a central component to integrate the teaching of science practices with the teaching of language of science practices, Buxton and colleagues (2015) found that when teachers were given agency to help create and adapt curriculum, as well as to make choices about the nature of the professional development
they engaged in, these teachers increased their implementation of reform-based practices to support ELs. Teachers showed increased willingness and ability to design and modify curriculum materials to meet the science learning needs of their ELs as a result of working collaboratively with researchers on strategies for adapting curriculum materials to challenge and support ELs (Cardozo Gaibisso, Allexsaht-Snider, and Buxton, 2017).
As Adamson, Santau, and Lee (2013) pointed out, teacher professional learning that is focused on supporting ELs often fails to attend to or to be explicitly aligned with reform-based curriculum. Further, when that teacher professional learning does align with reform-based curriculum, it may fail to extend beyond how to teach the disciplinary concepts and
practices to also focus on students’ language and culture. However, placing the expectation on teachers to adapt curriculum to better meet the needs of ELs requires significant professional learning and ongoing support that is currently quite rare in U.S. educational contexts.
Shared Professional Learning Experiences for Teachers of STEM
The dual challenge that teachers face of learning to teach their disciplinary content in new reform-oriented ways while also learning to use language in new ways to meet the needs of all students including ELs is a daunting task for most teachers of STEM content (de Oliveira and Wilcox,
2017). Moreover, the role of ESL teachers has continued to evolve. One support structure that has proven to be effective in at least some contexts has been a closer integration of trained ESL teachers and paraprofessionals into STEM classrooms (Honigsfeld and Dove, 2010). For example, Harper and de Jong (2009) studied three different teacher education programs that claimed to integrate ESL teacher competencies throughout the general education curriculum (see Box 6-5).
Much of what the teacher education field already knows about preparing teachers from different disciplines to work together can be applied in the specific case of helping teachers of STEM content and ESL teachers work effectively together in supporting ELs’ STEM learning. For example, Martin-Beltran and Peercy (2014) worked with pairs of elementary general-
ists and ESL specialists to use collaboration strategies to make co-teaching processes more visible and explicit. Specifically, the teachers learned to: (1) communicate and build upon their own and their partner’s teaching goals; (2) co-construct and adjust their knowledge base for teaching ELs; and (3) negotiate their ownership of space and voice during shared teaching activities. Thus, conceptualizing teacher collaboration as an opportunity for shared learning may allow co-teaching to become a more regular and integral part of teacher preparation for both ESL specialists and content-area teachers. However, it is important for ESL teachers collaborating with content teachers of STEM to have a shared vision for the integration of disciplinary content and language (Valdés, Kibler, and Walqui, 2014).
Pawan and Ortloff (2011) identified a set of factors that had the poten-
tial to either sustain or hinder collaborations between ESL teachers and content teachers depending on how they were managed. Specific factors found to support collaborations included formally articulated procedures for collaboration, trust between teachers, and mutual respect for differentiated expertise. Specific barriers to collaboration included a lack of knowledge of the other partner’s skills and abilities, a lack of coordination and communication structures in the school, and rigid, top-down decision making. Restructuring teacher education coursework to more specifically address collaboration between ESL and content teachers can lead to improvements in teachers’ attitudes toward and practices for supporting ELs (DelliCarpini and Alonso, 2014; Dove and Honigsfeld, 2010).
However, as the number of ELs in STEM classrooms continues to increase, the number of trained ESL teachers becomes less and less sufficient to push in to all of the various STEM classes that would benefit from this support. Further, due to the selective pressures of accountability systems, most ESL teachers who work in content area classes tend to be assigned to language arts and mathematics classrooms, leaving science classrooms largely underserved. Although teacher educators are increasingly preparing general education teachers with some of the skills needed to work with ELs, this will not replace the need for more fully trained ESL teachers and the knowledge base that they possess (Liggett, 2010).
Facilitation of Multilingual Instructional Approaches in STEM Classrooms
There is a need for teachers, most of whom are not bilingual, to learn how to make better use of their ELs’ multilingual resources. While the historical focus of multilingualism in teacher education has been on compensating for the perceived deficits that students going to school in a second language face, Suárez-Orozco and Suárez-Orozco (2009) argued that this conversation can be reframed to highlight multilingual education as enrichment education for all. This framing positions ELs as having an asset of a broader range of linguistic resources that can be leveraged for making and communicating meaning when compared to monolingual students.
Translanguaging (the idea that multilingual individuals communicate and make meaning by drawing on their full repertoire of linguistic resources from all languages they speak) demonstrates that multiple languages and contexts cannot help but interact in complex ways; thus, learners benefit from encouragement to embrace the use of their full linguistic repertories (see Chapters 3 and 4) in a free and dynamic way without restrictions (Otheguy, García, and Reid, 2015). This approach implies that teachers require training to work at the intersection of their students’ diverse linguistic resources, necessitating a new focus in teacher education on supporting
teachers in developing skills as language planners (Langman, 2014), and on ensuring that teachers do not limit opportunities in developing English and their home language.
In terms of teacher learning, there appears to be value in EL-specific university coursework that prepares teachers to support their students’ usage of home language and other linguistic assets. For example, in a comparative study of strategies that general education teachers used to promote students’ home language use, Karathanos (2010) found that teachers with at least three courses in EL-specific university preparation engaged in practices such as encouraging multilingual students to use all language resources with their classmates and seeking out multilingual materials for their students to a much greater extent than teachers without this preparation.
Although a growing body of research on instructional strategies and student learning highlights the value of translanguaging approaches to support and challenge ELs in their STEM learning, there has been little appetite in U.S. educational policy for embracing multilingual education or for prioritizing the recruitment and preparation of multilingual educators (Goldenberg and Wagner, 2015). Billings, Martin-Beltrán, and Hernández (2010) pointed out that teacher education programs have rarely stayed abreast of the newest ideas about how bilingualism and biliteracy develop or how teachers can be prepared to build upon the intellectual, linguistic, and cultural resources that bilingual learners possess. Similarly, Kibler and Roman (2013) found that while monolingual teachers did not typically hold negative views about their students’ home languages, they also required substantial institutional support to move beyond simply accepting that students sometimes speak in their native languages in school to seeing student multilingualism as an academic asset. These teachers were not equipped to incorporate students’ home language into their daily instruction. Emerging research in support of translanguaging approaches can lay the foundation for changes in how teachers of STEM come to think about the language resources that their ELs bring to the classroom.
Engagement with Families
As described in Chapters 4 and 5, a persistent family-school connection is one of the strongest features to promote immigrant students’ postsecondary education attendance and retention (Wimberly and Noeth, 2005). It has long been known that teachers play a central role in fostering a trusting collaboration with parents, and that teachers’ attitudes, including those about race, ethnicity, language, and socioeconomic status, are critical factors (Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler, 1997). Research that focuses on teachers learning to work with diverse families continues to be rare (e.g., Symeou, Roussounidou, and Michaelides, 2012), and there are few pro-
grams designed to encourage preservice (e.g., McCollough and Ramirez, 2012) or in-service teachers (e.g., Bernier, Allexsaht-Snider, and Civil, 2003; Buxton, Allexsaht-Snider, and Rivera, 2012; Civil, 2016; Civil and Bernier, 2006; Civil, Bratton, and Quintos, 2005) to collaborate with the parents of immigrant students in their children’s learning in STEM fields. Chapter 5 provides a deeper discussion of this critically important topic of how teachers and families can come together to support and challenge EL students.
Use of Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies and Explicit Attention to Equity
Effective teachers of underrepresented students often share certain key characteristics, knowledge, and skills that allow them to be effective teachers for all children, regardless of their backgrounds (Grant and Gillette, 2006). One of these characteristics is the ability to use culturally sustaining pedagogies (Paris, 2012) to build on and recognize the value of the experiences and backgrounds that ELs and other underrepresented students bring to the classroom. For example, as described in the section on Facilitating Multilingual Instructional Approaches in STEM Classrooms, the use of translanguaging in the classroom enables students to draw on their full repertoire of linguistic resources. Teachers can be explicitly prepared to make use of such pedagogies.
Studies of “instructional congruence” by Lee and colleagues have long called for teachers of science to make meaningful connections to students’ linguistic and cultural experiences and indicate that such congruence has a positive effect on student performance (e.g., Lee and Fradd, 1998; Lee et al., 2005). Similarly, in mathematics, Díez-Palomar, Simic, and Varley (2007) argued that “it is an important aspect of incorporating students’ funds of knowledge into a culturally relevant mathematics curriculum for teachers to learn more about their students’ lives and experiences” (pp. 28–29). Several projects supporting teachers in learning to build on ELs’ funds of knowledge show that these approaches lead to engagement of children in problem-solving that is both meaningful and mathematically rigorous (Civil, 2007; Civil and Andrade, 2002; Turner and Bustillos, 2017).
Students’ interests and passions, which can often be traced to cultural or community-based practices, can be leveraged to build student interest in STEM content while providing examples to teachers of what culturally sustaining pedagogies can look like. For example, Vazquez Dominguez, Allexsaht-Snider, and Buxton (2017) designed and taught a series of soccer and science investigations to promote interest and engagement in physical science learning for middle school ELs. They found that soccer, which was a passion for many of the middle school ELs they worked with, could be used to integrate ELs’ cultural practices and passions with physical science content standards that students needed to learn in their science classroom,
such as Newton’s laws of motion and energy transformations. After being developed and tested with a middle school soccer team, these lessons were then integrated into teacher professional learning workshops as exemplars of culturally sustaining pedagogy (Buxton et al., 2016a,b).
As with curriculum, teachers can also learn to make their classroom assessments more culturally relevant in ways that can support ELs’ academic success. For example, Siegel (2014) taught a group of preservice teachers to develop and test more equitable classroom assessments. Siegel found that this group of preservice teachers changed their understanding of equitable assessments from a simple view of equity as “fairness” to more sophisticated views of equity as actively providing the supports needed to motivate and challenge all students to share what they know, such as through the use of culturally relevant examples. These teachers’ understanding of equitable assessments increased, but their actual assessment plans in their subsequent units often failed to demonstrate these new ideas about equity and cultural relevance. The work highlights the need to place more emphasis on developing critical understanding of equitable and culturally sustaining practices in teacher education to meet the needs of diverse learners.
As we have noted throughout this report, many teachers of STEM to ELs have only limited experiences of learning in a context where they are a linguistic or cultural minority. Without such experiences, it can be difficult to understand the importance of culturally sustaining pedagogies. Indeed, for teachers who have always been in the linguistic and cultural majority group, their own educational experiences have, in fact, been culturally and linguistically sustaining, but without ever making those practices explicit; rather, they just seem “normal.” Thus, more research is needed on how teachers from culturally and linguistically dominant groups can learn to see how their own education was culturally and linguistically congruent.
Targeted Teacher Learning around Common Societal Biases and Beliefs
As de Araujo, Smith, and Sakow (2016) made clear, the dominant narrative regarding ELs in STEM continues to be that ELs require support rather than challenge. Although seemingly a small difference, this taken-for-granted view has substantial consequences for the nature of the STEM learning experiences that ELs are likely to receive. For example, when teachers attempt to accommodate ELs, they may select tasks that are repetitive, procedurally focused, and devoid of context, based on their beliefs about the limitations of ELs’ mathematical and linguistic abilities (de Araujo, 2017). These findings suggest a need to help teachers to critically examine the potential impact of their seemingly benign beliefs about ELs.
A small body of research examines practicing teachers’ knowledge
and beliefs about the need for professional development opportunities focused on working effectively with ELs in STEM (Cho and McDonnough, 2009; Gandára, Maxwell-Jolly, and Driscoll, 2005; Reeves, 2006). When taken together, these studies suggest that the majority of teachers of STEM believe that they would benefit from additional training on how to work more effectively with ELs in their classrooms. Gandára, Maxwell-Jolly, and Driscoll (2005), for example, surveyed 5,300 practicing K–12 teachers in California and found that professional development made a difference in how confident these teachers felt in their ability to meeting the challenges of teaching ELs. This was particularly true of teachers who received this in-service training through programs offered by a college or university, rather than by their school district. Elementary teachers identified ELD professional development as most useful, whereas secondary teachers identified professional development on cultural issues and strategies for teaching academic subjects as their greatest needs. Both groups thought that professional development on linguistics was too theoretical and the least useful, and they wanted more time to observe and collaborate with their colleagues as a central part of professional development. Many of the teachers surveyed claimed that over the past 5 years, they had participated in little or no professional EL training and that the quality of the training they had received was poor.
Few if any studies have explicitly examined the knowledge and beliefs of teachers of STEM subjects about their need to learn about ELs as part of their initial teacher education program. However, several studies about preservice and practicing teachers have compared teachers’ knowledge and beliefs based on the type of bilingual or EL certification they are pursuing or have received as part of their teacher preparation (Gandára, Maxwell-Jolly, and Driscoll, 2005; Karathanos, 2010; Lee and Oxelson, 2006; Rios-Aguilar et al., 2012; Tolbert and Knox, 2016). These studies find that training in bilingual, ESL, or EL instruction has a positive impact on teachers’ knowledge and beliefs about teaching ELs. Although it seems that teachers with any professional development focused on teaching ELs feel better able to teach ELs than teachers with no such training, more research is needed to understand the impact of these differences, particularly in the STEM disciplines.
In this section, we describe research that is specific to the work and preparation of the teacher educators who are preparing and supporting teachers who work with ELs. While research on teaching and teacher education are massive fields of inquiry, research on teacher educators, those who engage in the work of preparing teachers, is significantly less robust
but growing (Levine, Howard, and Moss, 20142). There are a number of important questions that are not fully answered about the work of teacher educators, such as: (1) how the skills of an effective teacher educator differ from the skills of an effective teacher; (2) where and how teacher educators develop those skills; and (3) whether today’s teacher educators possess the skills and experiences needed to successfully prepare the next generation of teachers. This last question is particularly relevant to the topic of supporting ELs since many of today’s teacher educators had their own K–12 classroom teaching experiences during a time when both the student demographics and the policy context of U.S. schools were quite different, and ELs were rarely present in mainstream STEM courses.
Teacher Educators Need Their Own Professional Development
Teacher preparation programs that successfully prepare teachers who are effective with ELs and other minoritized students integrate issues of cultural and linguistic diversity throughout their courses and field experiences, rather than relegating these topics to a stand-alone course. Further, effective programs ensure that all methods faculty, field supervisors, and cooperating teachers are active participants in this integration process, rather than making issues of diversity and equity the responsibility of a few “equity oriented” faculty members (American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education, 2002). For a fully integrated approach to culturally and linguistically responsive teaching to function, all teacher educators need to regularly model best practices with respect to instructional strategies for working with diverse student populations, including ELs (see Chval, Pinnow, and Thomas, 2015; Estapa, Pinnow, and Chval, 2016). This, in turn, means that both newer and more experienced teacher educators need to engage in their own ongoing professional development and need continued access to appropriate resources and supports (O’Hara and Pritchard, 2008).
In the same way that general education teachers and ESL teachers benefit from coming together to plan for ways to meet the needs of EL students in their classes, teacher educators who teach general education and methods courses and those who teach TESOL courses can similarly benefit from coming together to co-plan and co-facilitate course work with teacher candidates (McCrary, Sennette, and Brown, 2011). Baecher and Jewkes (2014) found that bringing these two groups of teacher educators together resulted in increased understanding in both groups about how they could support each other’s goals to enhance both general education
2 The work by Levine and colleagues describes project PREPARE-ELLs (Preparing Responsive Educators Who Promote Access and Realize Excellence with English Language Learners).
and TESOL teacher candidates’ beliefs and understandings of EL pedagogy during content area learning.
Some teacher education programs have developed faculty institutes to support teacher educators in better helping candidates prepare to work with ELs. Costa and colleagues (2005) described one such institute in which teacher education faculty, doctoral students, and teachers and paraprofessionals from local schools came together for a series of structured experiences and discussions. Costa found that this institute served as a catalyst for change, especially for the teacher educators, and led to greater efforts to infuse the general teacher education curriculum with explicit support for ELs (see also Nguyen et al., 2013). Similarly, Buxton and colleagues (2016b) examined the role of teacher educator participation in a teaching-focused research project that involved both veteran and novice teacher educators. They identified a set of principles for supporting teacher educators: (1) scaffolding co-design work involving teacher educators, teachers, and EL families in which the teacher educators make themselves vulnerable to the teachers’ and families’ expertise; and (2) giving novice teacher educators supported leadership opportunities to develop resources and models for working with and learning from teachers of ELs.
There are few studies of teacher preparation for “linguistic diversity” that systematically measure outcomes for teachers and fewer still that measure student outcomes. Most are descriptive in nature (Bunch, 2013; Lucas and Grinberg, 2008). This is a limitation for the preparation and professional learning of teacher educators, as not enough is known about program effectiveness in preparing teachers to support ELs in STEM learning to be useful in the professional learning of teacher educators.
Teacher Educators Benefit from Collaboration
Teacher educators can gain new insights about effective ways to prepare teachers for working with ELs by more systematically observing and describing the professional development processes of the effective teachers with whom they work. Hutchinson and Hadjioannou (2011) described what they learned as teacher educators, as the teacher candidates they taught learned what they were and were not capable of doing in the classroom. Together the teachers and teacher educators learned that their peers struggled with similar issues and that they could use this camaraderie to construct a support network that they could continue to rely upon. The teachers and teacher educators all came to see more clearly how a multicultural and multilingual classroom environment could be an asset to supporting innovative teaching and learning.
Teacher educators’ efforts to support preservice teachers learning to teach ELs can face multiple obstacles to success, with one of these being a
lack of cohesion and collaboration within teacher preparation programs. Daniel and Peercy (2014) described an effort that met with only limited success. They found that while the teacher educators in the program they studied felt a responsibility to prepare their teacher candidates to effectively educate ELs, the teacher educators did not work collectively or cohesively toward this goal, in part due to a lack of leadership or a clearly articulated vision for their work together. Thus, a better understanding of how to build leadership and shared vision for supporting ELs within a teacher preparation program seems to be one necessary step for understanding how to support effective teacher educator professional learning.
The summary of research presented in this chapter highlights practices for preparing teachers to address the increased language and literacy demands embedded in the new generation of standards, curriculum, and assessments, while building on the assets and resources that ELs bring to STEM classrooms. Despite the persistence of deficit views of ELs in STEM subjects, a number of powerful professional learning models exist to debunk deficit perspectives and to prepare teachers at all levels to challenge and support students from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds to thrive in grade-appropriate STEM content classrooms. Many of these models have been described in this chapter, and many new models are currently being developed and studied. While the research base on the effectiveness of these models, especially regarding the relationships between teacher learning and student achievement, is still emergent, there are clearly a number of promising practices that have been summarized here. Many of these practices rely on a critical social justice orientation to teacher education that acknowledges the roles that power and privilege play when it comes to equitable STEM learning opportunities for ELs. Three decades ago, Giroux (1988) called for teacher education programs that were designed for both “empowering teachers and teaching for empowerment” (p. 158).
Although stronger and more targeted initial teacher education programs will be part of any solution to better meeting the needs of ELs in STEM, initial preparation will always be insufficient for teachers to overcome these challenges. Thus, there will continue to be great need for systemic efforts to work with practicing educators, local and central administrators, academics, lawmakers, local communities, families, and EL students themselves to create systems-level approaches to ensure that teachers have the training, support, and resources they need to help ELs succeed and thrive in STEM learning.
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