Excited to explore, but unsure where to begin?
This guide is designed to help teacher education faculty find a helpful place to start using the Multilingual Learning Toolkit! As a first stop, visit and bookmark the Starter Guide. This thorough explanation of research and key foundational principles for Multilingual Learners (MLs) is an invaluable resource for both you and the teacher candidates you support. You can weave the research-based content into lectures, teacher education classroom activities, or assign it directly to teacher candidates to review.
Use the Reflection Tool (English PDF or Spanish PDF) to identify priorities for your own practice as an educator for teachers of MLs. You can consider how resources — especially the videos and Strategies in Action — can be integrated into meaningful assignments and used to facilitate learning and discussion about specific Evidence-based Strategies and resources for MLs.
Option One: Course or Program Review
You can use the Reflection Tool to reflect on which Instructional Topics and Evidence-based Strategies show up in particular teacher education courses or programs:
- Review the blue rows to consider how well-prepared teacher candidates in your course/program are about each Instructional Topic. Choose an Instructional Topic that is relevant to your teacher education work and context.
- Ask yourself: Do teacher candidates’ experiences include instruction specific to MLs? Do teacher candidates see examples or representations of teaching practice that include MLs? Do they enact teaching with MLs as they are introduced to and practice work on these Instructional Topics?
- If you answer “no” or “not as much as I would like” to any of these questions, take some time to explore the Evidence-based Strategies and resources in the white rows below each Instructional Topic. These resources can be integrated into coursework and assignments.
- Consider a sequence that you can use to examine and explore an Instructional Topic or an Evidence-based Strategy with your teacher candidates. For example: begin with a video as a shared experience in teaching MLs. Give teacher candidates opportunities to name the strategies they observe. Continue with an article or overview document so that teacher candidates can read to learn more. Wrap up with an activity that structures opportunities for teacher candidates to actually practice an Evidence-based Strategy—either in the teacher education classroom with peers or with MLs in a practicum or field experience.
Option Two: Coursework and Assignments
Activities in the teacher education classroom might include assigning teacher candidates to explore resources and share out learnings to peers in small groups; write about new learnings; or, have follow up conversations with mentor teachers about opportunities to practice or learn more about the strategy.
Videos: There are many videos in the Multilingual Learning Toolkit. Videos can be used to facilitate discussion of a shared teaching experience. When you encounter a video in the Evidence-based Strategies and Resources sections, ask yourself: What specifically can you ask teacher candidates to observe for as they watch? Is an observation or note-taking form necessary? After viewing a video with teacher candidates, consider questions that you can pose to facilitate discussion of the segment of teaching, e.g.:
- What did you learn about instruction for MLs in the video?
- What question or comment do you have for the teacher/researcher/family member featured in the video?
- What specific strategies did the teacher use effectively? Give an example from what you observed.
- How did the MLs in the video experience the teaching/lesson? What do you think they learned about content? What do you think they learned about language? What did you see them practice?
- Now that the video is over, what do you think happened next? What is a possible next lesson or teaching move that can build on what you just saw? What specific Evidence-based Strategies would be important to integrate into the next teaching experience for MLs?
Option Three: Reflections in the Field
Invite teacher candidates to use the Reflection Tool as an observation tool and conversation starter in their practicums or field placements.
When teacher candidates are settled into their field placement classrooms, ask them to review the numbered Instructional Topics in the blue rows of the checklist. Ask them to consider the prompt, “When it comes to teaching Multilingual Learners, I am confident about this topic/strategy…” to mark a ✔ in the column that indicates what Ins- tructional Topics they observe in their field placements: (A) “not very,” (B) “somewhat,” or (C) “very.” Tell them you do not expect them to feel “very” confident at this point in their training. This exercise is helpful to focus them on topics and strategies they will continue to learn about and strengthen, and to also help them notice what they observe in their field placements. (Note: filling out the Reflection Tool with their mentor teacher is another option to help them develop conversations about teaching and learning with MLs.)
Now ask teacher candidates to look at the Instructional Topics that they marked as (B) “somewhat.” (We suggest starting with these because they already have a foundation to build from!) Invite them to pick one that seems particularly important for their context—consider the progress of their training, their skill level(s), and the strengths and learning needs of the children and families with whom they work. You may also consider choosing the Instruc- tional Topic for them.
Give teacher candidates time to read through the white rows of lettered Evidence-based Strategies underneath the chosen Instructional Topic. Again, use the prompt, “When it comes to teaching Multilingual Learners, I am confi- dent about this topic/strategy…” and ask teacher candidates to mark a ✔ in the column that indicates what Strate- gies they observe in their field placements: (A) “not very,” (B) “somewhat,” or (C) “very.” Again, tell them you do not expect them to feel “very” confident at this point in their training. This exercise is helpful to focus them on topics and strategies they will continue to learn about and strengthen and to also help them notice what they observe in their field placements. (Note: filling out the Reflection Tool with their mentor teacher is another option to help them develop conversations about teaching and learning with MLs.)
Now that you have focused teacher candidates on particular Evidence-based Strategies that match up to their interests/skill levels/development, ask them to pick one of the Strategies they marked as (B) “somewhat.” Make a plan for them to learn more about the strategy they selected by exploring the Multilingual Learning Toolkit! They can click Strategies and Resources in the menu at the top of the website and navigate to the strategy they identified. Then, they can click on any of the resources to learn more!
You can assign the Evidence-based Strategies and resources to teacher candidates for independent review. They can then reflect on what they experienced, share out with peers, or write about their noticings and learning.
Teacher candidates can also do a jigsaw exploration activity: Invite pairs of teacher candidates to divide up the resources within one Evidence-based Strategy to engage in close examination. Then ask them to explore, reflect, and share out one new strategy that they would like to try out in practice.