The school leader component of our model aims to build strong cadres of school leaders who not only will develop deep understandings of the needs of ELs, but will also use this knowledge to initiate school-wide changes to encourage ALL faculty, staff and students to recognize the assets ELs contribute to the school and its classrooms. With this, they also support new instructional strategies their teachers are learning to implement through their own professional development, thus improving ELs’ academic performance.
Each participating school has a “Leadership Team” comprised of a principal or assistant principal, a school-community liaison, an ESL-certified instructional leader, and a student support specialist. School Leadership Institutes provide professional development to the Leadership Teams of each participating school.
Their two-year professional development program coincides with the teachers’ professional development program and parent involvement initiatives (see below) and consists of:
- A series of workshops designed to increase/deepen their understanding of the experiences, needs, and contributions of ALL students in multilingual/multicultural school environments
- A comprehensive, iterative school-wide needs assessment and action planning tools
- On-going leadership coaching and change management support
Through the series of workshops with experts in teaching ELs, the school leaders are provided background knowledge on topics such as characteristics of ELs and their families, legal and ethical obligations in the education of Els and their English dominant peers, learning needs unique to Els, and learning opportunities afforded by a multicultural/multilingual student body (and staff). In addition to conceptual information, these workshops will include skill-building activities on topics such as data-driven decision making, assessment, and monitoring of ELs, designing and managing collaborations with families and parent leaders, and supporting teachers as they implement newly-learned strategies, particularly those related to language and literacy development across the content areas.
With the help of a coach, the leadership teams conduct a needs assessment of their school’s policies, practices, and programming using the Transforming School LIFE for ELs online tool. Consisting of 39 customized school improvement targets   , the tool is structured as a rubric and includes examples and research briefs to guide evaluation and improvement activities. After their assessment, teams meet and select target goals. Upon reaching those goals, the leadership teams reassess and shift attention and planning to other areas of need. These customized improvement targets are categorized into four main categories: School Climate & Culture, Parent Involvement, Instructional Practices & Processes for Identifying & Monitoring ELs.
The school environment reflects and honors the diversity of the community it serves. All school personnel – instructional and non-instructional staff alike – who come into contact with English learners have developed the understanding and skills needed to create a safe and welcoming school environment.
All English learners have access to comprehensible, grade-level, standards-based instruction in all content areas. School leaders promote a culture of collaboration, where professional development on effective teaching of ELs is comprehensively planned, focused, and ongoing. The instructional program design and implementation for ELs is grounded in research on best practices for educating ELs as well as on data on each school’s particular EL student population.
The process(es) for identifying and monitoring academic success and (English) language development of ELs is transparent and standardized. All staff, not just ESL-trained and certified teachers, are knowledgeable about EL identification and assessment.
Schools proactively support the acclimation of newcomers and families. Parents of ELs are well integrated into the school community because schools maintain consistent and accessible communication with families about their children’s academic progress as well as about ways to support their children’s academic success outside of school.
Teachers improve their practice through a professional development program that results in “The Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Program Specialist: ESL Certificate.” The teacher professional development component of our project focuses on equipping teachers in grades 6-12 with the skills, strategies, and knowledge essential to supporting the ELs in their mainstream classrooms, particularly with regard to literacy instruction in their content areas.
- Four graduate-level courses leading to the Program Specialist: ESL Certificate
- On-site teacher coaching to support implementation of newly-learned strategies
The program offered to mainstream, content teachers is aligned with a central, longstanding ideology in Temple’s ESL Certificate Program. Since its inception in 2004, the Temple ESL Certificate Program has featured the mission of providing essential training for ALL teachers. That is, the Program forwards the notion that the ESL Certificate should not be considered as a credential only for aspiring ESL teachers; rather, it is an increasingly important credential for ANY teacher who endeavors to better address the needs of the ELs in their mainstream, heterogeneous classroom.
In conjunction with four graduate-level courses, teachers in the program receive instructional coaching on an ongoing basis over a two-year period. With best practices for EL teaching and learning gleaned from the coursework as the foundation of the discussion, the coach meets with teachers individually to examine how these language and literacy strategies can be integrated into their teaching.
For more information on Temple University’s PA ESL Certificate Program,
Families are supported as active participants in their children’s’ education
We view parents and families as active agents in their child’s education, not as individuals to be acted upon. Guided by this value, we included a component focused on coaching and supporting participating teachers and administrators to work effectively with parents and families, and supporting parents in their efforts to facilitate their children’s language, literacy, and academic success.
- A “School-Family Liaison” on all leadership teams
- Dedicated workshops/course units on communication strategies and evaluation techniques
- Data collection and analysis of the implementation and effectiveness of school-home communication and engagement
- Establishing a school based English language program for parents and families led by a community-based English language teaching organization
In our effort to provide sustainable adult English language classes at each school site, we have partnered with Providence Center, a well-established community organization located in one of our target neighborhoods. Providence Center has been providing educational programs for children, teens, and adults in the Latinx community for more than 20 years. To build on this existing resource, and to support the expansion of their school-based classes, we assist the schools as they collaborate with Providence Center to recruit parents, schedule classes, and revise curricula to address parents’ particular English language needs and wants. In addition, we assist Providence Center as they hire and train graduate students enrolled in Temple’s TESOL Master’s Program to co-teach courses at these schools. These pre-service teachers’ work for Providence Center allows them to continue developing their teaching skills as they provide a much-needed service.
For more information, please contact Anne Pyzocha, Providence Center’s Director of Adult Education, at firstname.lastname@example.org.