31 SES 01 B, Paper Session
The published literature asserts that there is little empirical evidence to suggest how to best prepare pre-service teachers of multilingual learners – pupils/students who are sometimes described as having English (the language of the curriculum) as an Additional Language - to effectively support their academic success alongside language acquisition (Faltis and Valdés, 2016). Furthermore, there is relatively little known about what in-service teachers in mainstream education should know and be able to do – from a pedagogical perspective – to achieve this (Faltis & Valdés, 2016; Takanishi & Le Menestrel, 2017). Academic research that explicates what constitutes effective pedagogy in the support of multilingual learners – from academic and individual empowerment perspectives - can therefore make a significant contribution to knowledge in this field.
Notwithstanding the above, there is a very promising line of research that suggests – in different European and US contexts – how these aims might be achieved (Doherty & Hilberg, 2007; Estrada, 2005; Gravelle, 2005; Tharp, Estrada, Dalton & Yamauchi, 2000; Teemant & Hausman, 2013; Sneddon, 2009; Teemant, Leland, & Berghoff, 2014). Aspects of that research have contributed to the synthesis of a reliable observation tool that can meaningfully evaluate observed classroom pedagogy – the ‘Standards of Effective Pedagogy’ (the ‘Standards’) (Teemant, Leland & Berghoff, 2014; Teemant, 2015).
The OPETAN project builds on these ideas, and its findings identify the ways teachers can better achieve the inclusion of multilingual learners who are simultaneously learning the language of schooling, and developing their curriculum knowledge. Opetan means ‘I teach’ in Finnish, and it is the acronym of the project’s title: Observations of Pedagogical Excellence of Teachers Across Nations. OPETAN researchers are based in Germany, Finland, the United States and England.
This paper will report two aspects of the overall findings from this international study in the following ways:
- It will provide a précis of key themes that have emerged from the data gathered in schools in England, and
- Locate these themes against the data gathered in the other OPETAN research sites – in Germany, Finland and the United States.
Furthermore, we will identify areas of commonality and difference between countries, and consider possible explanations for these with reference to their linguistic and cultural contexts. Critical to this discussion is the strong and consistent commitment that the OPETAN researchers share: a mutual ambition to better understand what makes an effective teacher of multilingual learners good at what they do; and to examine how such pedagogy can respond constructively the demographic, socio-political and linguistic contexts of school environments today. The research questions for the wider OPETAN project include:
- What does effective instruction consist of and look like in content classrooms for multilingual learners in four different national contexts?
- What similarities and differences can be discerned across the four different national contexts?
In addition, our research engages with the following issues:
- How might effective teachers of multilingual learners be identified?
- To what extent do the ‘Standards’ (Teemant, 2015) facilitate the capture of effective practices observed across the four OPETAN educational contexts?
- Do any cultural/contextual issues arise in the utilisation of the ‘Standards’ (Teemant, 2015), and if so, what are they?
- To what extent (if at all) is the data sufficiently ‘standardised’ to facilitate analysis across the four national contexts?
- Was inter-rater reliability achieved across the fieldwork data gathered?
This paper will report the findings gathered from the London/England observations, and draw some early comparisons with the data gathered from the other participating OPETAN contexts.
Method: Classroom observation data were gathered from four schools in two regions in the southeast of England. Participant teachers were selected by each researcher utilising their professional networks to identify teachers with a reputation for competent pedagogical practice in teaching multilingual learners. The teachers were observed working in linguistically diverse classes of pupils aged between seven and ten. The observations of classroom practice were conducted using the criteria in the ‘Standards’ (Teemant, 2015) – see below. The observation data gathered was numerically – and anonymously – ‘scored’ following each data collection event; this process included a short narrative of the pedagogy observed and the setting, as well as agreed rationales for the ‘score’ allocated to each criterion. Where appropriate/possible, we spoke briefly to the teachers we observed before and/or after the lesson for factual, contextualising background information of the learners and the lesson. Methodology: The data gathered was considered and analysed against the framework of the ‘Standards’ (Teemant & Hausman, 2013; Teemant, Leland, & Berghoff, 2014). Derived from critical socio-cultural perspectives, they require teachers and teacher educators to: ‘..pay much greater attention to their own deep-rooted beliefs, ideologies, and values..’ and ‘..understand them in relation to their students.’ (Howard & Milner, 2014: p207). Teemant (2015: p5) asserts that this approach offers a: ‘..promising direction in how to radically improve ESL teaching and teacher preparation in order to achieve equity in opportunities and outcomes..’ The ‘Standards’ contain descriptors to enable clear identification (and thus facilitate consistent inter-rater reliability) of the observed practice, although we also included explanatory information on how each ‘scoring decision’ was jointly agreed between the observing researchers. The thematic analysis of the data was derived from the criteria in the ‘Standards’ (Teemant & Hausman, 2013; Teemant, Leland, & Berghoff, 2014), as follows: 1. The extent of teacher-learner collaboration (joint productive activity); 2. Development of language and literacy across the curriculum; 3. Contextualisation of taught content to learners’ lives; 4. Teaching complex thinking (challenging activities); 5. Teaching through conversation (instructional conversation); 6. Teaching to transform inequities (critical stance); 7. Evidence-based differentiation; 8. Modelling; and 9. Encouraging learner decision-making (student-directed activity). The analysis of the observations across each of the four OPETAN contexts tended to demonstrate (nationally) consistent themes, which are previewed briefly below.
During early analyses of data from the OPETAN sites, we discerned consistent themes – derived from the standards criteria described in the preceding section – that appeared to be differentiated by national context. At the time of writing, our analyses continue, although it is possible to tentatively identify a number of contextual and cultural variables that could be considered to exert a potential influence. These include, but are not confined to: • The content, duration and timing of initial teacher education programmes; • The social, cultural and political context in each OPETAN site, including attitudes to multilingual learners and their families/communities; and • Regional, school and classroom pupil demographics. It is anticipated that more detailed/nuanced conclusions will be disseminated at conference following the conclusion of data analysis during the summer of 2018. The OPETAN researchers are hopeful that our recommendations can be the catalyst for (inter)national conversations that will eventually produce a generation of teachers who are better able to support their multilingual pupils/students in ways that engage with sociocultural, sociopolitical and historical inequities, irrespective of geography.
Doherty, R. W. & Hilberg, R. S. (2007) Standards for Effective Pedagogy, Classroom Organization, English Proficiency, and Student Achievement. Journal of Educational Research, 101(1), p24-35 Sep-Oct. Faltis, C. J. & Valdés, G. (2016) Preparing Teachers for Teaching in and Advocating for Linguistically Diverse Classrooms: A Vade Mecum for Teacher Educators. In: Handbook of Research on Teaching, edited by Gitomer, D. H. & Bell, C. A., pp549-92. Washington, DC: AERA. Available at http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1s474hg.13 [Accessed 12.1.18]. Gravelle, M. (2000) Planning for bilingual learners: An inclusive curriculum. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham. Sneddon, R. (2008) Young bilingual children learning to read with dual language books. English Language teaching: Practice and Critique, 7(2) pp71-84. Takanishi, R. & Le Menestrel, S. (2017) Promoting the educational success of children and youth learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. Teemant, A. (2015) Living Critical Sociocultural Theory in Classroom Practice. MinneTESOL Journal. Available at http://minnetesoljournal.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Teemant-2015-MinnTESOLInvitedPaper.pdf [Accessed 22.1.18]. Teemant, A., & Hausman, C. S. (2013). The relationship of teacher use of critical sociocultural practices with student achievement. Critical Education, 4(4), 15th April. Teemant, A., Leland, C., & Berghoff, B. (2014, April). Development and validation of a measure of Critical Stance for instructional coaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 39, 136-147. Tharp, R. G., Estrada, P., Dalton, S. S., & Yamauchi, L. (2000). Teaching transformed: Achieving excellence, fairness, inclusion, and harmony. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
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