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Building Skills to Educate Multilingual Learners

The ExcEL Leadership Academy offers job-embedded, learn-by-doing programs to help PK-12 teachers become more effective educators of multilingual learners in all academic areas. 
Research and practical knowledge make it clear that all teachers need training to prepare them to work effectively with multilingual learners, yet the majority of states, districts, and schools do not have any such requirement or provide even minimal training. This lack of foundational training is exacerbated by the documented shortage of teachers qualified to work with English Learners, with the US Department of Education reporting at least 35 states with shortages of teachers in this field (2019). As a result, many schools are struggling to even meet the legal obligations to multilingual learners, meaning they have access to teachers who are properly trained and certified to meet their needs.

We are now offering two “micro-credential-based pathways” for teacher development:
   • Essential Support for Working with Multi-Lingual Learners
   • Advanced Support for Working with Multi-Lingual Learners

Micro-credentials are earned by demonstrating competencies in one specific area at a time. They allow teachers to build skills without ever leaving their classrooms, and to prove their capabilities by sharing evidence from their own teaching practices. Micro-endorsements are groups of micro-credentials representing competencies needed for certification in a given topic.
In the essentials group:
  • The Essential Endorsement is designed for all educators hoping to provide more equitable learning experiences for all students. This micro-endorsement consists of the six individual micro-credentials pictured representing the discrete skills educators need to provide a rigorous, engaging, and effective education for multilingual learners. In Rhode Island, educators earn the state ‘Multilingual Learner Endorsement’ upon completion of this ExcEL micro-endorsement. 
Connecting the Stages of Second Language Acquisition
  • All teachers are teachers of language. By knowing the characteristics of each stage, the educator can more effectively plan instruction that makes content comprehensible to students.
Implementing Instructional Strategies for English Learners
  • All teachers are teachers of language. When educators apply appropriate instructional strategies, they make rigorous, grade-level appropriate academic content accessible for English Learners. The key is understanding a range of research-based strategies that make content comprehensible and facilitate language learning and thoughtfully applying them to match student needs.
Utilizing Equitable Assessments for English Learners
  • All teachers are responsible for language instruction. Teachers need to design and adjust assessments in order to make sure they are appropriate for English Learners (ELs). These assessments in turn can be utilized to monitor student progress, provide constructive feedback to students, and drive instruction.
Fostering Positive School Cultures and Family Engagement for English Learners
  • School culture results from both conscious and unconscious perspectives, values, interactions, and practices. Students, parents, teachers, administrators, and other staff members all contribute to their school’s culture, as do other influences such as the community in which the school is located, the policies that govern how it operates, or the principles upon which the school was founded.
Supporting Student Voice for English Learners
  • Teachers must create a set of conditions in which EL students have a voice in the decision-making process about their own learning and issues that affect their daily experiences in school. 
Ensuring Professionalism through a Multicultural Lens
  • Creating a positive learning environment that is respectful and responsive to the learning needs of all students is necessary for students to succeed.
  • The Advanced Endorsement provides in-depth learning for educators who choose to become specialists in the delivery and administration of programming for multilingual learners. Participants master the skills needed to design and deliver effective programs that meet the diverse needs of multilingual learners in diverse settings. The discrete skills addressed in this micro-endorsement are aligned with national and state teaching standards associated with certification for ESL, TESOL, and Dual Language educators.
In the advanced group:
Applying Linguistics to Support English Learners
  • Linguistics is the study of languages and is of great importance to language teachers, including those who provide instruction on the English language. Linguistics helps teachers convey the origins of words and languages, their historical applications, and their modern day relevance. Linguistics helps students understand regional dialects and colloquialisms. It also helps students identify the origins of sayings and phrases that have evolved over time, but sayings that may not have the same relevance or meaning in contemporary society. A basic understanding of linguistics and some formal study of the structure of the target language allows language teachers to help the language learners they teach understand how the target language is organized and make connections with their own language(s).
Defining and Implementing Effective Programs and Curricula
  • There are many educational approaches and models that have shown to be effective, including English immersion, sheltered instruction, bilingual, and dual language programs. Effective educators of ELs understand the approach used in their school or district, clearly understand the program goals, and can articulate how federal, state, and local regulations are met through the model in use. Effective educators of ELs also successfully align instruction, curriculum, and assessment to support achievement of the programmatic goals for students and have accountability mechanisms in place to monitor student progress toward those goals.
Creating Systems of Supports for Newcomers
  • When educators implement systems of support for newcomers to aid academic achievement and language acquisition, students will feel more comfortable in their experience and thrive both socially and academically.
Implementing Effective Bilingual Programs
  • Bilingual education is an umbrella term for many types of programs in which two languages are used for instruction, with the intent of eventually transitioning to the target language. The ultimate goal, at the end, is for students to join native English-speakers in regular classes. Educators must understand the foundations of Bilingual Education and the concepts of bilingualism and biculturalism and apply this knowledge to create an effective learning environment for students in the Bilingual Education program. The Bilingual Education teacher understands processes of first- and second-language acquisition and development, instruction and assessment, applying this knowledge to promote students’ language proficiency in their first language (L1) and second language (L2).
Implementing Effective Dual Language Programs
  • Dual Language education is an effective approach to developing language proficiency and literacy in English and a partner language. A dual language program is often referred to as additive bilingualism, as its aim is to keep the native language intact. Educators must understand the foundations of Dual Language/Biliteracy Education and the concepts of bilingualism and biculturalism and apply this knowledge to create an effective learning environment for students in the Dual Language/Biliteracy program. The Dual Language/Biliteracy teacher understands processes of first- and second-language acquisition and development, instruction and assessment, and applies this knowledge to promote students’ language proficiency in their first language (L1) and second language (L2).
Identifying and Addressing the Special Needs of English Learners
  • The popularity of Response to Intervention (RtI), Planning and Placement Teams (PPT), or other forms of data teams at many schools has brought attention to the needs of EL students; but without a deep understanding of the relationships between language acquisition and learning disabilities, interventions may be ineffective, and even detrimental, for students. ESL specialists must be involved to provide specialized knowledge and advocate for EL students at all levels of intervention as well as during and following any referral and IEP process.
ExcEL micro-credentials are not time-based, seat-based, or measured by passing an exam. They are created by educators and rooted in research. Our innovative learn-by-doing process allows teachers to practice what they’re learning in their own classrooms and to demonstrate their abilities by submitting a portfolio of artifacts derived from their actual practice.

The ExcEL network is expanding, and we welcome the opportunity to explore ways to work together with individuals, schools, districts, states, and other organizations. Grant funding and support may be available.

Please contact info@excelleadershipacademy.org for further information and to explore ways we can work together to improve outcomes for multilingual learners.
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