Panel 2 focused on Ensuring Professional Development on DLLs is Accessible to All Educators. Carolyne Crolotte, Director of Dual Language Learner (DLL) Programs at Early Edge California, moderated the panel and began by sharing content and context on the importance of professional development (PD) specific to DLLs. She emphasized that California has the largest population of DLLs in the nation, and that 60% of children from birth to age five speak a language other than English at home. Recent investments in DLL-focused PD have had a positive impact, but were not sufficient to meet the state’s needs.
Crolotte introduced the Panel 2 panelists including:
- Soodie Ansari, Coordinator, Early Learning Dual Language Support, San Mateo COE, & DLL Regional Coordinator for Bay Area Region #4
- Rebecca Bergey, Senior Researcher, American Institutes for Research (AIR)
- Kimberly Brooke, Program Manager, First 5 Butte
- Luis Rios, Contract Administrator, California Department of Social Services (CDSS)
AIR representative Rebecca Bergey reported that there is no statewide requirement for DLL-specific training or DLL-focused certification for Early Learning educators, resulting in a shortage of Early Learning educators who report feeling adequately trained. Early educators are rarely required to participate in DLL-specific PD. However, educators in centers receive more support for DLL PD than those in Family Childcare Homes. At the same time, nearly all educators reported that they wanted more DLL-related PD.
AIR also found that teachers receiving more DLL-related PD had more pro-bilingual attitudes, and more confidence in their abilities to support DLLs. They used more evidence-based instruction and they used more linguistically and culturally responsive family engagement strategies. Finally, Bergey noted that while the use of home language is important in supporting DLLs, there are fewer bilingual and multilingual staff outside of Spanish speaking staff. Therefore, it is important to support specific training for staff who do not necessarily speak the languages of their students.
Next, Luis Rios highlighted three areas where CDSS is focusing on DLLs. The first is the Language Learning Project in conjunction with Fresno Unified School District offering specialized PD using POLL strategies. The second is the Child Development Training Consortium offering training for higher education and college facilities. The third is work to develop resources for improved language access, including Spanish language translations for a number of key guides and resources.
Finally, representatives from the DLL Pilot counties, Soodie Ansari from Bay Area Region 4, and Kimberly Brook from First 5 Butte, presented on the DLL-specific PD in their counties, and what they learned that could inform policy/efforts to scale.
Ansari, representing the Bay Area, highlighted the regional approach the Bay Area used to focus on capacity building and systems change. This approach resulted in shared resources and a more cohesive model. The regional approach enabled participants to engage across counties. Specifically, the collaboration focused on a dual capacity building model, which included unit bearing courses with professional learning communities (PLCs) for coaches and instructors, a family engagement component, and collaboration at the county leadership level.
For educators, the project scaled up POLL courses in conjunction with CSU Channel Islands, provided training for 4 cohorts of educators: 2 in English and 2 in Spanish. Coaches were offered a 3-day coaching institute aligned with POLL strategies and there were monthly coach and instructor PLCs.
The Pilot scaled up the Creative Connections Series, developing a three-part “train-the-trainer” PD program. Ansari concluded with three learnings including the following:
- Coaches and leadership play a significant role in shifting the mindsets and DLL practices at the site level.
- Academic content is needed for all languages.
- Without authentic partnerships with families, we cannot create relevant and equitable connections with families.
Next, Kimberly Brook shared Butte’s efforts, partnering with the local county office of education to provide POLL training to local early care and education providers. Attendees represented all settings of the mixed delivery system. POLL trainings were offered over 4 months, specifically on evenings and weekends, to ensure maximum participation. A Community of Practice (CoP) met between trainings to allow participants to share challenges and successes. Participants requested that the CoP continue for an additional 5 months after the trainings concluded. Brook underscored the importance of incentivizing the training, including monetary incentives, as well as materials and supplies such as bilingual books. Incentivizing and the flexibility of scheduling were both important strategies in the success of this Pilot.
The facilitator’s request for a 30-second reflection on growth and sustainability elicited the following highlights:
- AIR – We must expand the Early Learning workforce to include educators who bring linguistic diversity and training in home language use. This should include a focus on pre-service and in-service PD for educators.
- CDSS – CDSS supports high quality services for home-based educators, as well as expanding language access services. CDSS also supports a stand alone unit bearing course on DLL development.
- Bay Area – We must build capacity in DLL content and competencies for coaches. There is also a need for funding to develop high quality resources, especially demonstration videos in multiple languages. Systematic changes are necessary to better reflect DLL-focused supports in higher education and quality improvement systems. Finally, there is a need for more DLL-specific funding, and longer funding cycles in order to demonstrate impact.
- Butte – DLLs must be in the forefront of this work. We must expand these conversations out into broader communities, and into the homes of DLLs and non-DLLs to uplift the positive impacts that occur when DLL children access and receive education equal to their peers.