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Awareness Campaign about Education of Bilingual Students Giovanni Nanni

Framingham State College Systemic Change: Curriculum, Instructional Tech. and Prof. Development - 14.959.b Instructor: Donald B. Gratz (dbgratz@juno.com) Giovanni Nanni (gnannibr@hotmail.com) Module 4: Assignment 4 Vision Changing Plan Awareness Campaign about Education of Bilingual Students Reaching Bilingual Students Through the Fulfillment of Their Needs. Rationale Due to the nature of American history and colonization, immigrants with their cultures and languages are a reality in our society. The influence these many different individuals and cultures brought with them made America the way it is. Immigration is part of our history and so are bilingual students. Many of them come to United States with some schooling from their countries. However, most of these students neither speak English nor understand it enough to be part of our educational system. Due to this situation several teachers have reservations about these students in their classrooms. Bilingual students have within them a cultural background that usually is very different from ours. Because of that they have different sets of needs and ways that they can be reached. If our approach is not in synchrony with their necessities, all efforts will only push them towards alienation. Even though many teachers think because these students are here they have to fit in, unfortunately it does not happen this way. The cultural differences are responsible for poor performance and behavior problems if the student is not reached. In my school there is a consensus among the administration and the staff members that the bilingual student participation level needs to improve school wide. This problem was even clearer after last gubernatorial election when Question #2 (about eliminating bilingual education) was placed in the ballot for public vote. When the election results where released the law regarding bilingual education was changed. Bilingual education was eliminated along with modifications in the rules regarding the participation of bilingual students in state mandated tests such as MCAS. Because of these changes our staff and administration knew that improvements in this educational area were due quickly. I am suggesting this plan based in this consensus already existent in the school regarding bilingual students and their education. This was an issue talked widely in the school. Due to these discussions there is already general sentiment regarding the necessity of increasing awareness about how to deal and reach these students. For that reason, this plan is focused more with the new vision and how to achieve it than to discover a problem, create a consensus then move to correct it.

Framingham State College - Systemic Change: Curriculum, Instructional Tech. and Prof. Development - Donald B. Gratz

Awareness Campaign about Education of Bilingual Students Giovanni Nanni

What is the best way then to address the problem, change the vision, and eliminate the misconceptions those teachers have about bilingual students and their education? There is more than one way to solve this issue. However, a serious process of explanation and an awareness campaign in order to broaden the horizons of all individuals related to bilingual students in order to reach them by addressing their needs is a very good start. To change the current vision, I propose the following plan: I. Determine the changes that need to happen All staff members and the administration are aware of the problems regarding bilingual education and the modifications in the law governing it. Discussions and meetings around the building suggest that most of the teachers are concerned about their roles as teachers and the roles of the bilingual students in their classrooms. Several teachers also voiced their concerns about how to reach and educate them. It is stated by researchers that bilingual students have different necessities than their native counterparts. Due to the nature of their cultural perceptions and emotional fragility these students need a different teaching approach. It is urgent and necessary that bilingual students have the same opportunities to access the subject contents as their English-speaking peers have. In order to provide this equal opportunity, teachers need to be aware of how to approach and teach bilingual students. There are several misconceptions about how to reach and engage bilingual students. In order to reach them effectively, I will suggest that all educators involved in bilingual education practice the following four key teaching techniques: 1. Focus attention on here and now. 2. Focus on meaning over form. 3. Extend and elaborate contents and subjects. 4. Deliver contents slowly and simply. These teaching techniques were extracted from an educational research in the field, and they will be discussed and advocated to all parties. These teaching techniques will be a column in my plan to change the vision. II. Get people on board There will be several people involved in the Awareness Campaign about Education of Bilingual Students, which are fundamental to the success of this plan. To engage them I will use literature that deals with bilingual education as theoretical base to introduce the key teaching techniques that will allow the improvements to be achieved. I will also use data from the school student body make-up provided by the District Education Center, MCAS scores and input from the other Bilingual and ESL

Framingham State College - Systemic Change: Curriculum, Instructional Tech. and Prof. Development - Donald B. Gratz

Awareness Campaign about Education of Bilingual Students Giovanni Nanni

teachers. These issues are going to be discussed with each individual following the order in the list given below. The key individuals are: 1. Bilingual and ESL Teachers More than anyone these teachers are the bilingual students advocates. There are three teachers in this department, which I am one, and we are very concerned about the students necessities not being addressed. I will have meetings to present and form a cohesive group. I will present my new vision and get the other two on board so we can create a committee for change. After the committee is created, we as a group will meet with the principal to present and discuss with her about the need to accomplish what is a clear necessity of the bilingual students in our school. By being united, we will have more convincing power. This group effort will show the principal the urgency school has regarding the issue being addressed by this plan. According to conversations that I had with the other two teachers in my department, I have no doubt that they are ready and willing to share the responsibilities and workload relative to this plan in order to promote a better environment for the bilingual students.

2. The principal In my school it is necessary to have total support from her. She has the key position to make the plan move forward or not. Giving her the above reasons and explaining that the application of the four key teaching techniques we not only will improve the quality of our education but doing it somewhat easily for these techniques do not require a whole new teaching approach. It will be in the discussion to that our school is at risk of not fulfilling its duty to teach and integrate the bilingual students in our school and community. It will also be very useful to use her experience as a foreign student (she attended three years of college in Germany) as a good example. Her support is certain as long as we explain her how this new vision will improve our teaching. The committee will not need to convince her about the issues for she is aware of the problems and is also looking for some changes that will improve our school. Her support is crucial to allow us to present the new vision at the regular scheduled staff meetings and professional development days

3. The vice-principal He is the representative of the Bilingual and ESL department in the school. In the same fashion as the principal he is probilingual and is willing to support improvements in this area. As long as we get the principals support, his support is a given. The vice-principal will be very valuable in order to rally the teachers by showing his support in team meetings, grade meetings and informal conversations.

Framingham State College - Systemic Change: Curriculum, Instructional Tech. and Prof. Development - Donald B. Gratz

Awareness Campaign about Education of Bilingual Students Giovanni Nanni

4. Guidance Counselors These are people of cultural influence for they have a very good knowledge of the educational theory. They will be able to help provide educational-based explanations to satisfy the questions and concerns other teachers might have. I will also try to have them to be part of the awareness workshops through the use of their expertise. The guidance counselors are also in favor of a better involvement of bilingual students in all school activities. To complement the start up group it would be wise to discuss the matter with the teachers that are already working with students that have a bilingual background, prior to open to the whole staff. Because of their exposure to the problems that we have in our school these teachers will be more receptive to the new vision. There are four teachers in the fourth grade and three teachers in the fifth grade that work directly with the new-arrival bilingual students and they would be the pilot group to promote the ideas. I know for fact that some of them will show some resistance, however all of them are prone to change for they live and have to deal with all the difficulties regarding the education of the bilingual students. They also showed their intentions to improve their teaching practice while we were discussing the changes in educational law and the effects it will produce in our school. Their commitment to the plan will follow the principal and vice-principals support as well. III. Present the goal while giving the means to achieve it At this point the school is aware of the problem regarding the low performance of bilingual students regarding class work and active participation in the daily activities. They are also concerned about the legislative changes Question #2 brought upon how the bilingual students are to be educated. Another factor to increase the urgency will be when the results from the MCAS tests return. These results include for the first time the scores of bilingual students for the new education laws and MCAS regulations do not give exemption time, which used to be 3 years from the registering date, to foreign students. My goal is to increase the awareness of teachers regarding the necessities of bilingual students to achieve and produce more and better. This clearer vision about how to teach and guide these students will provide a better school environment for them as well as improve the classroom academic level as whole, diminish disturbances related to bad behavior due to alienation in class, involve parents in the schooling of their children, and produce higher bilingual student achievers. To communicate the new vision and give means to achieve the goals set I would proceed as follows: 1. Introduce the vision in a staff meeting. To do so it would be prepared using electronic presentation where all the crucial information would be highlighted. The work would be divided among the three ESL/Bilingual teachers in our

Framingham State College - Systemic Change: Curriculum, Instructional Tech. and Prof. Development - Donald B. Gratz

Awareness Campaign about Education of Bilingual Students Giovanni Nanni

school. Each one would have a part in the presentation. This also will give us more convincing power for this is a group proposition. We would start the discussion using the recent facts that happened in the state and the effects these changes will bring upon our school. Then we would move to the bilingual students and the MCAS issue, what it represents to our school, and how to minimize its effects by addressing the bilingual students needs. To increase the convincing effect as well, all this information would be presented using the support of charts and graphs that will visualize our current situation regarding student numbers and test scores. The presentation should be well prepared so all teachers would be interested in apply the key teaching techniques (that are going to be introduced in the presentation and better explained in the handouts) in their classroom even if they do not have any bilingual student. The handouts would feature the theories about bilingual education, how to reach them, and the schools current condition. These handouts would explain the information within the electronic presentation in more details. In them we would present the four key teaching techniques in depth and explain that these techniques would allow the teachers to improve their teaching practice as whole and reaching the bilingual students. These four techniques are: 1. Focus attention on here and now. Bilingual students have the extra burden of not knowing English language while learning contents. Any content that is not practical and tangible requires an extreme effort in order to be understood for there is no real relationship with their everyday life. Educators should be able to work with contents that are easy to relate and permit the difficulty progression in the same pace the students progresses their English language understanding level. 2. Focus on meaning over form. Educators working with bilingual students need to understand that it is more important to value the work production than format. The presentation of a project that has many flaws in the format but is right on target regarding meaning will encourage and incentive the bilingual students to continue to try and produce while learning the contents as well as the English language. 3. Extend and elaborate contents and subjects . A smaller unit with more exercises and activities will produce a more meaningful and lasting effect in the bilingual students. Through the exploration of all aspects of a lesson, bilingual students will have the opportunity to engage in discussions, group work, research, production and presentation of projects that will broaden the content understanding while allowing the learning of the English language. 4. Deliver contents slowly and simply. In bilingual education less is more. By giving the students opportunity to work in their own pace and level, educators allow them to comprehend and retain the contents in a more meaningful way. Bilingual students cannot be rushed in about their work for they need time to process the

Framingham State College - Systemic Change: Curriculum, Instructional Tech. and Prof. Development - Donald B. Gratz

Awareness Campaign about Education of Bilingual Students Giovanni Nanni

information, which is in a different language. It is also necessary that the teaching language be accessible and simple. Using everyday expressions will provide a better chance of understanding and learning. The handouts would be formatted as a newsletter so it is going to be a interesting reading. Displaying headings, eye-catching sentences and highlight boxes that would keep the readers focus. In the final page of the handout, I would include a concerns and questions space so everyone could note their questions for further discussion in the team meetings. The committee would get these concerns and questions page and use it as guide for the team meetings agenda. 2. Schedule team meetings to discuss the problem and the possible solutions . After the presentation and brief discussion about the new vision I would like to schedule team meetings, prior to the next staff meeting, where our committee could be present (as group or individually) to explain and discuss the new vision. These meetings are crucial for the success of the plan for they will allow the committee members to work with each teacher in a quasi-personal level. This also would be important to determine and eliminate resistance regarding the new vision. 3. Maintaining the interest and will to change . To keep the interest high, our committee would be sending memos and notes with small comments and ideas that teachers would give to us at the team meetings, informal discussions, and suggestion notes. These small notes would serve as reinforcement and reminder about the new vision. Each member from the committee would be responsible to do that in an alternate fashion, so each one of us would have time to work on the memos and letters. I also will create a discussion group in the Internet where everyone could post their ideas, concerns, problems, suggestions, and experiences. Our committee would be responsible to answer the postings and comment in them as well as support our co-workers. For this discussion group I will invite bilingual teachers from other schools so they can participate and enrich the discussion by posting their opinions and experiences as well. Another way I plan to keep the interest high is to include a space in the staff meetings where the staff members could give their testimonies or reports about the problems and successes they are having. It would create a forumlike atmosphere were everyone would be willing to share their own experiences, try to solve each others problems, and eliminate doubts. 4. Hands-on activities in the workshops. The committee would develop awareness workshops to be scheduled within the professional development days. Bilingual and ESL teachers from other schools within the district demonstrated willingness to help in these workshops. Their help and presentations will be very important to broaden the vision of our teachers

Framingham State College - Systemic Change: Curriculum, Instructional Tech. and Prof. Development - Donald B. Gratz

Awareness Campaign about Education of Bilingual Students Giovanni Nanni

regarding the issue. These teachers along with our supporters within the school will join the committee to develop the workshops. These workshops will be short so the teachers would not be overexposed to the new vision and become insensitive to it. There would be activities such as a bilingual teacher introducing a subject content in a language that few understood so the teachers would experience themselves how is it to be in a classroom and do not comprehend what is being spoken or worked on. The guidance counselors would be able to talk about what frustration can cause in academic settings and how it produces misbehavior and failure in the classroom. Our committee would prepare and give written activities such as interpreting a text for the meaning instead of the format using dictionaries so they could also experience the extreme hard work the students go through while trying to finish their assignments. By demonstrating how hard is to produce a meaningful academic product while not being able to comprehend explanations and texts will create empathy among the teachers. This empathy will be used as energy to change. This new vision is based in the concept of awareness and knowledge. My plan works in the basis of the more teachers are aware and know about the subject the better they can work leading to better outcomes. These improved outcomes will be fuel that will continue to power the change. The idea is to make the changes generate more changes in a continuum. IV. Divide the process in stages The plan will be divided in five stages: 1. Preliminary stage prior to presenting the new vision In this stage I would be collecting data and educational theory to compile a brochure that will be used to present my ideas to the key individuals following the order given in step II of this plan. It is in this stage that the supporting base is formed and the alliances are built. It is going to be in this stage that the key individuals will have the chance to give their ideas and inputs in order to improve and fine-tune the plan. After each meeting with the key individuals the plan would be improved by their inputs. It is in this stage also that our committee would prepare for the staff meeting. Our committee would create the electronic presentations, the handouts, and have the time slots for the team meetings. In my conception this is the most important stage. This phase will determine if the plan has a potential for success or not. If the support base is not strong the other steps will not follow through. 2. Vision presentation This is the second most important phase of the process. Even though it is clear that the staff and administration is aware of the problem and many are

Framingham State College - Systemic Change: Curriculum, Instructional Tech. and Prof. Development - Donald B. Gratz

Awareness Campaign about Education of Bilingual Students Giovanni Nanni

willing to address it, which forms a strong supporting base, if the vision introduction is not well developed and well presented the staff will not feel compelled to change and will not be interested in incorporate the suggestions from this plan in their practice. Our committee will design a presentation as well as a handout in a way that will demonstrate to the staff that the changes are not going to incur in excessive extra work but will generate excellent results. Our committee will design the presentation so it will also reinforce the necessity of change to improve the bilingual students participation in their classrooms. A very important incentive point is the fact that with a little extra effort the whole teaching practice can be improved, which means better students results in general. This stage also will open next stages doors. 3. Team meetings After the vision presentation comes the true one-to-one work. In this stage the teachers will voice their concerns and questions about the new vision and the changes it will bring. This is also a very decisive phase. It will be in this phase that the process will be put in motion. It is here that the teachers are going to adhere or not. That is why the bilingual team needs to be well prepared and connected so we can discuss with other teachers and get them to buy the new vision. In this stage the handouts are going to play a major role for consult, discussion and theoretical reference. 4. Professional development day workshops Our committee will prepare workshops using the expertise of the guidance counselors and the suggestions and input from staff members. As with all the other activities, our committee would divide the work regarding the preparation, presentation, and workshop follow-up. The district-wide head of the ESL/Bilingual department is willing to work with us in the workshops as well as write short memos that can be used in the newsletter. I have also talked with bilingual teachers from different schools within the district and they are also interested in joining forces for the betterment of our students. This stage will then complement the former. It is here that the teachers will witness and experience through the workshops and activities the feelings bilingual students have while in class. The hands-on activities will produce a sentiment of empathy towards the bilingual students needs. It is here too that teachers are going to discuss about how to implement the new vision and the teaching techniques in their daily practice. In this setting each teacher will be supporter and supported. The teachers will have the opportunity to present suggestions for fine-tuning. 5. Maintaining the knowledge acquired alive The team meetings and workshops, as well as articles and books about the subject will be the main source for the memos, letters, and articles that will

Framingham State College - Systemic Change: Curriculum, Instructional Tech. and Prof. Development - Donald B. Gratz

Awareness Campaign about Education of Bilingual Students Giovanni Nanni

maintain the new vision in the staffs mind. Our committee will divide the responsibilities of producing these articles and publish them in the schools newsletter and a small bilingual newsletter. This bilingual newsletter will be created with the purpose to incentive, support, generate guided discussions, and keep the new vision alive. Another venue to maintain the knowledge acquired will be the time slot in staff meetings. This time will showcase students improvements examples, teachers testimonies about the positive effects of the changes in his/hers classroom, and problems and suggestions teachers have about the new vision. The staff meetings time is to create a forum where each one can hear and be heard. The unrestricted communication will be crucial to keep the new vision in the teachers minds. V. Consolidate improvements Due to the nature of this new vision, there will be never a total consolidation of the new knowledge. Once the machine starts to move, it will be hard to stop it. Once the tools of change are placed and working, to keep it working will take less effort. I know that this is a process of continuous check, adjustment, and growth. A change is never concluded and it is always in motion. It will be constant discussions and reviewing to keep the change on track. To assure that the knowledge acquired in the new vision is consolidated and being used in the teachers practice there are few things that can be performed such as: 1. Suggest the teachers that are already working with bilingual students to write lessons where they will use at least two key teaching techniques. Then ask the teachers that used the teaching techniques to report their experiences in the staff meeting time slots. 2. Ask bilingual students to comment about their experiences and publish the findings in the bilingual newsletter. 3. Investigate different teaching approaches and present them in upcoming workshops or staff meetings. 4. Compare standard tests scores in order to quantify the progress bilingual students exposed to the key teaching techniques achieved compared with bilingual students that were not exposed to the key teaching techniques. Tests such as MCAS, MELA-O, and DRA, are very reliable tools because they are standard and ministered annually. Due to the nature of this change, which is mainly mandated by law, I believe that all teachers will be willing to try these techniques. I cannot affirmatively say that all teachers are going to use them at first. However, the main incentive for any teacher to use the teaching techniques is the fact that they will have to work with bilingual students. Since bilingual education is extinct, bilingual students are going to be

Framingham State College - Systemic Change: Curriculum, Instructional Tech. and Prof. Development - Donald B. Gratz

Awareness Campaign about Education of Bilingual Students Giovanni Nanni

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placed in regular classrooms with native students. Any teacher that is concerned with the welfare of their students will be interested in improve the chances their students have. Teachers that will not try these techniques at first will do so after they see the improvements students are achieving through the comparison of tests scores. The principals support will be also an incentive regarding the new vision. As said before, another incentive for teachers is the fact that with little effort, much can be accomplished. This will assure that many will try and use the teaching techniques in their everyday classes. After reports of successes are spread in the school, any teacher that did not try will certainly do so. I have no illusion to get to the bottom of the issue. However, if this new vision is presented and worked as said in this plan, I firmly believe that it will produce changes and these changes are going to be incorporated in every teachers classroom. VI. Create conditions for continuous enhancement and improvement This final stage is where the plan loops to form a cycle instead of a one-time effort. The only way to keep these ideas and knowledge in the teachers mind is to continue to talk and discuss about it. The venues created in this plan need to continue existing. The committee will be working constantly in the practices created in this plan. My suggestions to continuous enhancement and improvement are: 1. Publication of articles in the school newsletter ongoing / monthly. 2. Publication of the bilingual newsletter ongoing/ monthly or bi-monthly. 3. Short letters and memos with achievements and testimonies ongoing / at least once a month. 4. Staff meeting announcements ongoing / bi-monthly. 5. Participation in team meetings beginning of every semester. 6. Professional development day workshops once every semester. 7. Internet discussion group ongoing. 8. Student performance comparison every year. The activities listed above will keep constantly the subject in every teachers mind. These activities will be a shared-responsibility of our committee and the help and support of ESL/Bilingual teachers within the district. These activities will also give the opportunity to newly arrived teachers to understand the issue and become part of the schools practices.

Framingham State College - Systemic Change: Curriculum, Instructional Tech. and Prof. Development - Donald B. Gratz

Awareness Campaign about Education of Bilingual Students Giovanni Nanni

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It is my understanding and hope that by working together we can make the bilingual students lives better. By making their lives better we will improve the quality of our school, and ultimately our own teaching practice. I can only see good things being produced by the implementation of this new vision. My intention was to cover the important aspects of the change process that need to happen in my school regarding the education of bilingual students. I am under no impression that this plan is complete. My belief is that this plan is a very good start. I do believe however that after each discussion, each meeting, and each written or spoken suggestion from my colleagues this plan will improve. My belief in this plan rests in the certainty that my co-workers will help me to implement and improve this plan so we will achieve the goal presented in this plan.

Framingham State College - Systemic Change: Curriculum, Instructional Tech. and Prof. Development - Donald B. Gratz