“It's thinking about how science can be taught using simpler English and shorter sentences. "
Over the past 25 years, the number of public school students participating in English language learning programs has increased by more than 500,000 in the United States. Throughout New York City and Long Island, an increasingly diverse student body has challenged educators and policy makers to develop innovative pedagogical approaches suited to multilingual environments.
In 2011, a trio of Adelphi professors—Tracy Hogan, Ph.D., associate professor of education; Daryl M. Gordon, Ph.D., associate dean for academic affairs in the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education; and Corinne Donovan, Ph.D., formerly assistant dean of research and evaluation in the School of Education—received funding from the New York State Education Department’s Project BEST to create an ambitious program that prepares Adelphi graduate students to teach in a bilingual science environment. This collaboration yielded a promising look into the future of teacher training, published as the chapter “A Clinically Rich Teacher Education Model for Bilingual Science Teachers” in The Power of Clinical Preparation in Teacher Education (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).
The graduate students, who were bilingual science teachers in either Spanish or Haitian Creole, underwent more than 900 hours of clinical training over 18 months to teach biology, physics or chemistry to students in grades seven through 12. “Our grant-funded program allowed us to pilot a residency model to learn from the challenges and opportunities that existed. We now have a residency program in both elementary and adolescent education programs housed within four districts on Long Island and in New York City,” said Dr. Hogan, who took the lead in writing the grant. Drawing on her bachelor’s degree in fisheries and wildlife biology, Dr. Hogan also served as the program’s science methods instructor. Dr. Gordon focused on content-based instruction for English-language learners (ELLs) and bilingual teaching methods, while Dr. Donovan handled overall data collection and evaluation of information that came out of the research project.
Dr. Hogan and Dr. Gordon emphasized the importance of classroom collaboration to create a successful dialogue between the sciences and bilingual teaching. “There were two separate classes [a science class and a bilingual class] that we merged and taught together,” explained Dr. Gordon. “This gave us a chance to reexamine both of our syllabi.”
According to Dr. Hogan, the team wanted to “model more effective ways to teach science. We weren’t just basing our entire instructional approach on using oral and written language, but using visuals, models, manipulations and investigations where students are able to collect and analyze data to better understand scientific phenomena.”
The professors worked with teacher candidates to deepen their learning on the importance of particular vocabulary used in the classroom, Dr. Gordon added. “It’s thinking about how science can be taught using simpler English and shorter sentences,” she said. “We worked toward a merger of science methods and TESOL [teaching English to speakers of other languages] methods.”
The program provided a unique opportunity for the candidates to spend a year at their school site. “The New York state grant allowed our grad-student teachers to be paid a stipend while both learning to teach effectively under mentors [and] providing additional instructional support to the student population at the school sites,” said Dr. Hogan. This allowed for a full immersion experience, including a chance for participants to serve as substitute teachers; it also supplied useful data for Dr. Donovan’s research. “Because they were in the schools for longer than our typical teacher education students, I wanted to look at it from a comparative perspective against our other programs that did not have students fully immersed for a whole year,” she said.
Trainees found the program demanding yet rewarding, Dr. Donovan reported. “It was a pretty heavy load in terms of both the curriculum and the immersion in the schools for a full year at the same time, but what that yielded was a very rich education,” she said. “They all felt prepared to go into the schools immediately and be able to teach. I think that was absolutely beneficial to them.”
This program offered invaluable lessons for the structure of clinically rich teacher preparation models, particularly regarding the relationships between Adelphi graduate students, partnering school districts, teacher mentors and the K through 12 students they are all here to serve.
Tracy Hogan, Ph.D., works with teachers in underrepresented communities to improve science teaching in order to increase learning and promote active citizenship. She has managed both state and federal grants aimed at supporting preservice science education and has published in both psychology and educational journals. Prior to earning her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology, she was a middle and high school science teacher in Iowa and New York City.
Daryl M. Gordon, Ph.D., focuses her research on gendered second-language socialization, the impact of trauma on refugee second-language learning, and naturalization education and national belonging. As a President’s Leadership Fellow, she has investigated ways Adelphi can integrate campus internationalization efforts.
Corinne Donovan, Ph.D., formerly the assistant dean of research and evaluation for the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, has a background in industrial and organizational psychology and more than 15 years of applied program evaluation experience in education as well as corporate settings.
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