Wanted: Strategic Coaches and Leaders for Dual Language Teachers During Remote Learning

By: Alexandra Guilamo

Now more than ever, all dual language teachers must use their qualities like grit, perseverance, and going above and beyond. However, research from the National University of Singapore now suggests what dual language teachers have known for quite some time – grit is not nearly enough. In the midst of a racial pandemic and COVID-19 pandemic that continue to escalate, dual language programs, district leaders, and dual language teachers will need a more than healthy dose of strategic thinking and willingness as they assess, shift, reassess, and shift again to ensure that dual language meets all three goals. Dual language and other coaches are uniquely positioned to help teachers and leaders think about how they are thinking about dual language during this incredibly challenging time.

Why is this?

Coaches can use their coaching stances to examine the mindset leaders and teachers are using as they plan for what dual language education will look like in light of the newly released guidelines and contingency plans.

Why did we start dual language and what alternative ways can we use to achieve all 3 goals?

Coaches will need to remember the equity and social justice origin story of dual language in every coaching conversation. In doing so, helping dual language teachers find alternative approaches, tools, and strategies for juggling the new three pillars in two languages will be critical. Dual language teachers may not be able to use the same curricular resources as the rest of the district, and that is perfectly ok. In many cases, a shift to refocusing on the three pillars will allow for the integration of more multi-modal and authentic connections for all dual language students.

How can we do this better while being kind to oneself and not fearing failure?

Dual language teachers are some of the hardest working teachers I’ve ever met. They often work to translate large volumes of print materials and spend countless hours trying to simply ‘make it work’. Dual language teachers will need to be willing to help teachers break from what this current reality, one that I call the ‘dual language rat race’. Instead of burning ourselves out trying to chase what the monolingual classrooms around doing, coaches can help dual language teachers figure out better ways to achieve all three goals. Experiment with new ways of connecting all the standards that should already be in your biliteracy units (social justice, language, and content) with technology and technology-free connections to students’ lives, communities, and home realities. Coaches must strategically help dual language teachers to not fear failing, rather to look for small success like greater engagement, attendance, parent support, and/or interaction across both program languages.

Where to focus your collaborative energies?

More than anything, coaches will need to prioritize how strategically dual language co-teachers plan and coordinate what learning happens at school, at home, and in what program language. When we coach schools around their contingency planning efforts, a critical question is how the collaboration between teachers has been planned, coordinated, and structured for dual language success. Coaches will need to help dual language teachers consider which co-teaching model they will be using and why that might be the most effective model in light of the learning experience they are planning for. Only after the model has been strategically matched, should co-teachers begin planning together for what accessibility of learning and tools in both program languages will look like? This is one example of coaches can help LOTE & English dual language teachers plan for small groups instruction (which can be planned for asynchronous home learning).

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