WE Embrace Equity: Collaborative Co-teaching
At William Walker Elementary School, an ESL teacher at every grade level works collaboratively with each grade-level teaching team to incorporate English Language Development (ELD) learning targets into daily writing lessons. This is known as collaborative co-teaching, and it is a school-wide practice at William Walker, where there are more than 19 languages spoken and a majority of the students are English Language Learners.
"The idea is that if you can embed language into the content, you create a context where children are able to acquire both the language and the academic skills at an academically rigorous level, and as a result that transfers to high student achievement," says Sarita Amaya, Assistant Administrator for Multilingual Programs.
In collaborative co-teaching, English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers and grade-level content teachers collaborate, plan, and teach units and lessons together to embed language development into the classroom content. This allows ESL students to remain with their classmates in the classroom, rather than be pulled out to attend separate ESL classes.
"At William Walker, collaborative co-teaching is built into our master schedule. Each grade level team and the ESL teacher have common plan time and an additional eight hours of collaboration time each month supported by the Multilingual Department," says Joanne Hulquist, Principal. "Since we have implemented the practice school-wide, our ESL students have shown discernable growth in Reading, Math and Science, but the data we get from our parents and students is what lets us know that we are doing the right thing."
Parents have reported increased confidence and self-esteem in their students, as well as an increased sense of belonging in the classroom since not being pulled out for ESL instruction.
Collaborative co-teaching doesn't only benefit students. Content and grade level teachers are learning how to embed the English Language Proficiency (ELP) targets and components into their instruction and ESL teachers are mastering content standards and weaving them into their ELP instruction. "Students are seeing both the ELD teacher and the content teacher as the "experts" – that requires a great level of skill and a great working relationship to be able to pull that off," says Amaya.
Currently, collaborative co-teaching is being implemented in 25 schools throughout the District; 17 elementary schools, four middle schools, two high schools and two options schools.