Indicators of Linguistically Responsive Teaching in the Work of EC-6 and Grade 4-8 Preservice Teachers in an Asynchronous Course on Second Language Methodology
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Background: English language learners (ELLs) are dramatically increasing in U.S. schools: by 2025, 25% of public school students will be ELLs (NEA, 2018). In one teacher education program in the Southeastern U.S., all students earning teacher certification must complete a course in second language methodology. This study seeks to understand whether these pre-service teachers are learning to be linguistically responsive teachers (LRT). Lucas and Villegas (2013) define LRT as knowing the diverse backgrounds of ELLs and being able to plan and deliver instruction that supports these students’ language demands. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to use an established theoretical framework of indicators of LRT to explore the evidence of these indicators in the coursework of pre-service teachers (PSTs). There are four research questions: 1) Are theoretical indicators of LRT identified in the lesson plans of PSTs; 2) To what extent are these indicators evidenced in PST lesson plans; 3) Are there differences in the extent of the indicators of LRT in PSTs preparing to teach in different content areas; and 4) For those PSTs who demonstrated the highest level indicators of LRT in their different content area lesson plans, do they exhibit LRT practices? Methods: This study employed an exploratory sequential mixed-method research strategy. The work of 42 PSTs seeking certification in early childhood-6th grade (EC-6) and Grade 4-8 subjects, representing three content areas, was analyzed. All PSTs were enrolled in an asynchronous course: Second Language Methodology. Data sources included PST lesson plans and videotaped teaching. Qualitative data identified the theoretical indicators of LRT in PST lesson plans, and these were then compared with videoed teaching practices through document analysis using NVivo. Quantitative data tested the extent and differences of indicators across different content areas through SPSS descriptive statistics and One-way ANOVA. Results: PST demonstrated the highest level for LRT in indicator 3.2: they adapted course content to all levels of student proficiency. The lowest level of LRT were in indicator 4.5 and indicator 2.1: PSTs provided the fewest opportunities for students to clarify key concepts in their first language and there were fewer meaningful activities that integrated lesson concepts and language practices. Chi-square found significant associations between PST content areas and indicators 4.3 and 4.4, p < .05. One-way ANOVA found statistically significant differences between science and humanities PSTs in LRT domain 4, p < .05. All PSTs demonstrated better LRT in lesson plans than in their teaching practices. Conclusion: Overall, the science PSTs demonstrated the highest level of LRT, while the humanities PSTs demonstrated the lowest level of LRT. Content area may be a potential factor in implementing LRT. Findings suggest that all content area PSTs should enhance LRT through implementing a repertoire of strategies for scaffolding instruction for ELLs (domain 4). Specifically, PSTs need to provide more verbal, procedural, and instructional scaffolds (indicator 4.3), and more grouping configurations to support language and content objectives (indicator 4.4) for ELLs. As novices, PSTs need to improve the relationship between what they plan and what they teach.