Professional Learning Provider Tools

Framework for Designing Professional Learning Inclusive of English Learners

As more educators work in heterogeneous classrooms in which English Learners (ELs) sit side-by-side their fluent English-speaking classmates, it is imperative that professional learning (PL) incorporates the needs and assets of ELs in an inclusive and culturally sustaining way. Our goal is to help PL providers understand and reduce the inequities that exist in our pedagogical practices so they ensure access to grade level content for ELs. ELSF has developed a framework that provides guidance and resources on planning effective PL inclusive of ELs. Access the framework here.

How was the framework developed?

The Core Beliefs were developed as a joint effort between researchers and practitioners in the field of Second Language Acquisition and PL providers. In a year-long project, EL experts from the English Learner Success Forum (ELSF) partnered with PL providers in a Professional Learning Community of Practice funded by the Schusterman Foundation.  Each provider explored a problem of practice, receiving guidance, feedback, and tools prompting them to think about how to integrate research- based EL supports and considerations into  new or existing PL efforts.

A first draft of the Core Beliefs emerged from the partnership described above. That draft was shared with the partner PL providers and other stakeholders who made suggestions for improvements which  were integral in guiding additional rounds of revisions.  Ultimately, this living resource is designed to ensure that developers have the tools to address ELs' academic and language needs in every PL opportunity they design.

What is included in the framework?

The four core beliefs presented in this framework synthesize the current research on what effective  instruction inclusive of ELs should look like.  These core beliefs inform effective design and implementation of professional learning for educators working with ELs. They are based on the premise that instruction, curriculum and formative assessment inform one another to create a coherent learning experience. Moreover, they embody the fundamental tenets of culturally sustaining pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 1995; Paris & Alim, 2017)—students must experience academic success; students must develop and/or maintain cultural competence; and students must develop a critical consciousness through which they challenge the status quo of the current social order. All three tenets permeate the four core beliefs and must be used as principles of design. The Core Beliefs are listed below and are expanded in the following sections. These are essential to help sustain students’ linguistic and cultural backgrounds and to promote equity, access and opportunity for all learners.  The core beliefs are presented as the following four main headings:

  • Core Belief 1: Student Assets are Learning Resources
  • Core Belief 2: Language and Content Are Interconnected
  • Core Belief 3: Students Learn Best When They Are Challenged Through Cognitively Demanding Tasks
  • Core Belief 4: Student Agency and Ownership of Ideas Are Essential for Learning

Who should use this framework?

This core beliefs framework has been created to be used by any PL organizer. This can be an organization leading a workshop or a school leader planning PL for their teachers. It is for any individual or organization that wants to ensure they provide training and workshops that are inclusive of ELs’ strengths and needs.

Where do I even begin?

The authors have developed a learner rubric based on this framework to support PL providers in thinking about how they are already incorporating the strengths and needs of ELs into their PL sessions and where there are gaps. This rubric will also help PL providers prioritize the topics they want to address and the PL activities that will best support the educators they work with in making their curriculum and instruction inclusive of the strengths and needs of ELs.

How is this framework different from others?

The Framework for Designing Professional Learning Inclusive of English Learners is intended to be used as a complementary tool to add value to existing PL frameworks by offering more in-depth explanations and EL-inclusive resources for PL activities. As an openly-licensed framework, it is provided free to professional learning providers who are experiencing challenges in supporting ELs as they engage with high-quality curriculum/curricular materials. It offers systematic guidance on how to implement targeted components of professional learning with content-general and content-specific examples, sample activities that are grounded in effective principles of English language development instruction, and core beliefs about how ELs develop both academically and linguistically. For example, ELSF’s PL framework can be used in conjunction with the Understanding Language Professional Development Essentials Framework. While the Understanding Language Framework can be used as a macro-level roadmap of the essential components of PL, ELSF's PL Framework can be used as a practical application tool that informs PL providers on how to achieve the target learning goal(s).

Professional Learning Case Studies

ELSF has provided technical assistance to address partner organizations’ gaps in meeting the needs of ELs, in order to build their capacity to positively impact student outcomes through the adoption and use of high quality curriculum. The case studies below provide summaries of some of these partnerships:

Additional Tools & Resources

PL Framework Reference List

PL Framework Glossary

Self-Assessment Rubric


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