Norma and Jackie are phenomenal dual language educators. When participating in professional learning sessions or actively engaging in advocacy conversations during meetings, they finish each other's sentences and are so uniquely connected, that it is difficult not to notice and feel the joy! Having served as dual language partner teachers for several years, now as district leaders, their collaboration continues to light the way, as they engage in work that better serves the district's emergent bilingual students.
This kind of dual language partnership – a marriage of sorts, between partner teachers, is the thing that dreams are made of! And, these happy partnerships can be found all over this country, as we collectively advocate for the only additive model of educational service for language learners – dual language education.
A volatile marriage between dual language partner teachers, much like in a real marriage, can have a negative impact on the children involved. It is rare, however, that as educational leaders we openly have conversations about the delicate nature of having two educators serve in this type of partnership. It is imperative that we begin to engage in transparent dialogue regarding this important factor in dual language education. For if we don't, it becomes difficult to create educational access for students, to grade level standards in two program languages.
Some practices that could ease the road to dual language marriage bliss are delineated below.
Administrators should involve grade level teachers in conversations regarding the importance of dual language partner teacher teams. Without input into the process of selecting who will be "married" for the duration of the school year, the opportunity for a successful union is minimized.
It is also helpful to collaboratively create a dual language social compact that includes personal and group expectations for the dual language partnerships, learning styles, preferences for communication, and general guidelines for collaboration and lesson planning.
Whether a dual language strand or whole school dual language program, teachers must have time to be a part of a grade level professional learning community (PLC) to effectively plan as a team. If a monolingual strand exists, those teachers would need time to plan alongside dual language partner teacher teams, as well.
In addition to grade level PLC planning time, dual language partner teachers also need additional time to more closely work together on ensuring that the work in both classrooms is aligned to the three goals of dual language education: bilingualism & biliteracy, high academic achievement in both program languages, and sociocultural competence.
Continue reading to learn more about Jose's thoughts on Dual Language partnership...