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ERIC Number: EJ1014349
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 24
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0737-5328
The Pitfalls of Focusing on Instructional Strategies in Professional Development for Teachers of English Learners
Molle, Daniella
Teacher Education Quarterly, v40 n1 p101-124 Win 2013
For more than a decade, the professional development literature has shown that most teachers are not adequately prepared to teach English learners (ELs)--that holds true for both specialist and mainstream teachers (see, for example, August & Hakuta, 1997; Beykont, 2002). Research that focuses on professional development for teachers of ELs, however, is rare (Genesee, Lindholm-Leary, Saunders, & Christian, 2006). The need for such research has, however, never been more urgent. Federal mandates for disaggregated data by native language have helped show that the education that linguistically and culturally diverse students receive is far from equitable. Indeed, the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress revealed that fourth-grade ELs are more than twice as likely as non-ELs to score below basic in reading and mathematics (Lee, Grigg, & Donahue, 2007), a gap that widens in eighth grade. ELs also have higher dropout rates and more frequent placement in lower academic tracks than non-ELs (Genesee et al., 2006). These findings suggest that many schools are unable to fulfill their obligation to provide an equitable education for all their students, and their EL students in particular. In addition, the population of ELs is the fastest growing in the country and many regions of the United States are coming into contact with non-native English speaking immigrants for the first time. The present article responds to the urgent need for research on professional learning opportunities specifically designed for teachers of ELs. Existing educational research that offers in-depth discussion of the learning processes in which educators engage during such professional development is still rather limited (though see, for example, Gebhard, Demers, & Castillo-Rosenthal, 2008; Gonzalez, Moll, & Amanti, 2005; Musanti & Pence, 2010). In the analysis included here, the author applies a type of discourse analysis (microethnography) to examine the opportunities for learning that group interactional norms foster and foreclose. She uses excerpts of social interaction during a professional development initiative to illustrate how the deficit views of students perpetuated by dominant discourses (Popkewitz, 2007; Swartz, 2009) become reaffirmed when educators are not provided with opportunities to analyze whether and how their instructional practices take into account the specific characteristics that set apart ELs, heterogeneous as they are, from other students. (Contains 3 notes and 5 tables.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A