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 3c

Domain 3: Instruction for Active Learning

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

icon3c. Assessing student learning, providing feedback to students, and adjusting instruction

In the assessment of English learners, it is necessary to first consider their English language proficiency level and native language ability before using an assessment process (Staehr Fenner, 2016). Because of the differences in language, an English learner may not clearly be able to articulate what he or she knows or can do to a teacher who understands only English. A single assessment snapshot for an English learner may not be a reliable measure of what he or she understands because of his or her level of English proficiency. Providing multiple opportunities to demonstrate understanding in a variety of ways and in a variety of language modalities gives a teacher a better sense of what the English learner understands or can do.

Specific practices and strategies that allow teachers to assess English learners, provide feedback, and adjust instruction may include:

  • Differentiating grade-appropriate criteria for success based on language proficiency level, as outlined in the CELP Standards Proficiency Descriptors.
  • Focusing on key concepts and academic vocabulary.
  • Integrating assessment opportunities that allow students to demonstrate thinking and understanding through multiple modalities (e.g., oral, written, gestures, project-based, multimedia).
  • Providing feedback using academic and social language that is appropriate to the English language proficiency level of the students.
  • Providing feedback that is culturally responsive and encourages growth building on current strengths.
  • Aligning feedback to the language targets/objectives.
  • Using native language to provide feedback or assess.
  • Using native language word-to-word dictionaries, extended time, a reader, simplified or native language directions, word/phrase banks, images, and other relevant designated supports, as appropriate to the assessment and students’ English language proficiency levels.
  • Making purposeful decisions on changes to lesson delivery approach, varying strategies, and materials and based on the students’ language proficiency level and assessment results, using the CELP Standards as a guide.

Sample “Might See” for 3c

In a sheltered high school biology class, all 20 students are English learners. In the class, students are conducting an inquiry lab on normal and abnormal cell division. An observer might see:

  • Differentiated entrance ticket with question about key understandings: How do living things grow? Some of the entrance tickets have native language, others have visual images, and others have only the question.
  • When monitoring lab groups, the teacher says, “I see that you have created a list of characteristics of cells you are looking for in your examination of the slides. (Teacher points to the slide). You wrote ‘number of cells in an area.’ In English, we call that density. Remember to add that to your vocabulary list in your notebook. Think about if you know what that word is in your home language.”
  • When monitoring lab groups, the teacher says, “You wrote ‘tumor’ on what to look for. When we think about the word tumor, what does that mean? How might you use your resources to describe what a tumor looks like in scientific terms?”
  • Teacher addresses the class, “Our language objective for today is to use descriptive, scientific language to describe the appearance of cells during cell division. Many of your lists are not using the academic language we have been learning in class. Let’s go back to the introduction paragraphs to the lab. In your groups, read paragraphs two and three and examine the diagram. What language can you use from the article to refine your lists?”

Sample coaching and reflection questions

  • How might you decide what assessment practices to use with your EL population? What tools might you use to decide what is appropriate?
  • How might you provide feedback to students who may have lower levels of English language proficiency?
  • How might you decide what is appropriate to their English language proficiency levels?
  • How might you adjust your instruction to ensure individual growth of your ELs during your lesson?