What Do You Think an Ideal Teacher of ELLs Knows and Can Do?

By Mary Ann Zehr — July 09, 2009 1 min read
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July 27 Update: The comment period has now closed, but you can find the standards document here.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is inviting the public to comment on standards it has developed for what the organization calls “teachers of English as a new language.” I call them teachers of English-language learners. (Find information about the standards-writing process here.)

The standards will be used as a basis for requirements for teachers who become nationally certified as teachers of English as a new language by the organization, a process that is open to content teachers as well as English-as-a-second-language teachers.

Diane Staehr Fenner, a member of the committee that developed the new standards and a senior analyst/ELL specialist for edCount, said, “The philosophy behind [the standards] is teaching English through content. This would apply to a math teacher who is teaching English-language learners.”

She said the standards also apply to bilingual educators. The value of bilingualism and recognition of students’ native languages is a thread throughout the document, she said.

The standards are meant to be met by exceptional teachers who go beyond what most teachers do, Staehr Fenner explained.

The window for commenting on what accomplished ELL teachers should know and be able to do will be open July 13-26. I’m telling you about it now because I’m about to begin a vacation and won’t be around to post the standards document when it is released. You’ll be able to find it here.

I’ve read a draft overview of the standards. It provides a picture of what the ideal teacher of ELLs is like. He or she has a deep knowledge of the English language and understands the language needs of his or her students, for example. He or she makes an effort to partner with parents to support their children’s education. The teacher delivers instruction that is informed by the best research, the overview says.

It also says the final standards document will include an elaboration on various topics underneath the overall standard for what a teacher should know and be able to do. For example, within the standard of knowledge about the English language, the document will elaborate on “academic English language,” “vocabulary,” “phonology,” and other topics.

The new standards are a revision of standards for teachers of ELLs created by the organization in 1998.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.