The Coaching and Self-Reflection Tool for Competency in Teaching English Learners

The Coaching and Self-Reflection Tool for Competency in Teaching English Learners

Indicator 2a

Domain 2: Planning for Active Learning

Teachers plan instruction to engage students in rigorous and relevant learning and to promote their curiosity about the world at large by:

icon2a. Planning of instructional content that is aligned with standards, builds on students’ prior knowledge, and provides for appropriate level of challenge for all students

When teachers of English learners are aware of their students’ language needs and plan instructional content to meet those needs, English learners have more success. Sheltered content strategies used in the whole classroom environment that focus on content and language increase learner success (Echevarria & Short, 2010). Differentiating for English learners based on English language proficiency levels allows English learners to achieve at higher levels (Fairbairn & Jones-Vo, 2010). It is essential that teachers understand how a student’s English language proficiency level affects the English learner’s level of performance, appropriate to grade-appropriate tasks.

Specific practices and strategies that allow teachers to plan for instruction aligned to standards, prior knowledge, and level of challenge may include:

  • Analyzing student language proficiency assessment data and the CELP Proficiency Descriptors and determining the needs of individual students based on his or her language proficiency level.
  • Planning instruction based on grade-appropriate, content area standards and the CELP Standards.
  • Designing activities that build on or activate prior knowledge, acknowledging cultural or linguistic differences.
  • Targeting Tier II academic vocabulary in instruction for English learners.
  • Developing language targets/language objectives to communicate language expectations to students
  • Planning for additional wait time for English learners.
  • Incorporating opportunities for use of the four modalities of language—speaking, listening, reading, and writing—in each lesson.
  • Designing leveled scaffolds appropriate to the English language proficiency level (see the Linguistic Supports in the CELP Standards for supports by level) may include:
    • activating background knowledge;
    • native language supports;
    • leveled text supports (e.g., shortened text, alternate texts, audio support, and/or native language texts).
    • leveled sentence starters, word or phrase banks, or model responses.
    • increased wait time and slow rate of speech;
    • multiple opportunities to practice language orally in discussions;
    • visual supports like pictures, gestures, video, and realia;
    • flexible grouping with a range of English Language Proficiencies of students;
    • discussions about appropriate register to use with different audiences; and
    • teaching foundational reading skills (even at the secondary level), when necessary.

Sample “Might See” for 2a

In fifth-grade English language arts, there are three English learners in a class of 22 students. All three English learners speak Albanian. One student is a newcomer with limited English proficiency. One student is proficient in speaking and listening and close to proficient in reading and writing. The third student is proficient in speaking and is intermediate in the other modalities, according to the annual English language proficiency assessment. An observer might see:

  • Lessons with corresponding CELP Standards in the plan.
  • Identified academic vocabulary for the lesson (tier II and tier III) and a plan to teach or address the vocabulary.
  • Key concepts identified for learners with corresponding materials appropriate to the reading levels of the students with supports (e.g., word banks, visual supports, alternate, shortened text with simplified language on the same topic, and audio support).
  • Lessons for practice of vowel sound pronunciation of the key academic vocabulary in a small group.

Sample coaching and reflection questions

  • What might be the challenges and misconceptions your ELs have? How might you plan to meet the needs of your ELs in this lesson/unit?
  • What data or tools might you consider using to determine the needs of the ELs?
  • When you consider what success looks like for English learners, how might it be different from native English speakers?
  • What are the key concepts, skills, or ideas you want all students to attain?
  • What are the language targets for your ELs as they engage with the content?