Kris Nicholls: Dual Language Leadership Institute
We spoke with Kris Nicholls on what her presentation will look like at the Dual Language Leadership Institute. She will be presenting for the District and School Planning Track. Below, she told us a bit about what her what her presentation will cover. There are still spots available if you are interested in signing up.
I believe that one of the most pressing challenges that dual language districts and schools face today is how to ramp the programs back up to “full speed” in the fall. In some districts, they are already back to face-to-face instruction and are facing this challenge right now. Other districts have either a hybrid (part-time face-to-face and part-time distance learning) or a full distance learning model. What each is or will be facing is how to take the often reduced amount of instruction in the partner language and move it back up to the percentage of time that the dual language program’s language allocation plan specifies for each grade level. It is important to follow the language allocation plan to replicate the promise of high levels of biliteracy, high academic achievement in both English and the partner language, and the development of sociocultural competence that the research has shown, which is the one of the main factors that many districts identify in their rationale for having a dual language program. So the question that many have expressed is, “How do we scale back up to the levels of partner language instruction to get back on track with our language allocation plan?” The seemingly simple nature of this question is situated in a more complex context.
Districts and site administrators, along with teachers, all recognize that there are impacts beyond the impact to their academic learning that the students are and will be dealing with when they are able to resume face-to-face instruction, and want to be sensitive to those impacts while at the same time honoring the learning that the students have done to get through the pandemic’s isolation, most of which is beyond the academic standards that we as educators use to frame our programs. So, they ask, “How do we get back up to the levels of partner language instruction for each grade level while still being sensitive to what the students are going through?” That is, in my opinion, one of the greatest challenges that dual language programs face as we look toward Fall 2021 and the hope that many have of being able to bring the students back to school face-to-face.
Start the conversation with teachers (if you haven’t already) about how to move the dual language program back in alignment with the language allocation plan. Even if the program has been able to deliver the same percentages of time in English and the partner language, in many cases, the total amount of instructional time has been reduced, and student-to-student interaction, where the majority of language learning occurs, has also been limited. Thus, students in dual language programs that have continued to align with their language allocation plan may find that students are not where previous cohorts of students arrived at with regard to their development of the partner language. As you engage in conversation with the teachers, seek to learn the teachers’ perspective on where their students are in their development of the partner language as this year draws to a close and move forward carefully and strategically in developing a plan to support these students to higher levels of partner language development in the fall.
On the third day of the Dual Language Leadership Institute, I will be supporting the district and site administrators in identifying two to three goals to meet some of the challenges that they identified and explored on the first and second day of the institute. Once these goals are set, the administrators will be able to identify the actions and tasks that will need to be completed to accomplish the goal. A suggested action plan template will be shared for the administrators to use, or they may choose to use an action plan template that is used in their district or site. By the conclusion of the third day, district and site administrators will have completed action plans for their identified goals, allowing them to return to their district and sites with concrete plans to support the dual language program, teachers, students, families, and communities in Fall 2021.