From fabric to quilt : adaptability in teaching EAL students from a classroom teacher's perspective
As the mosaic of our classrooms becomes more diverse, teachers need to be able to celebrate the multilingual, multicultural students and provide the academic and social opportunities for their students. As well, teachers need to use culturally relevant pedagogy and diverse instructional strategies within the curriculum that will allow all students to develop meaningful language experiences. Through narrative inquiry and through qualitative research, I have examined my teaching practices and methodologies in relation to the observations and critical conversations with EAL teachers directly involved in the instruction and English language development as support for linguistically and culturally challenged students in the elementary school setting. I have taught a community of diverse learners with rich heritages and backgrounds in a multilingual classroom, and I have learned, from these four specialist teachers, to be more knowledgeable in teaching strategies and more adaptable in implementing culturally relevant content. For a brief time, I was able to enter four different classrooms of students, who had come from many different countries and had been removed from their regular classrooms to receive EAL support. Through observations of these students, and interviews and dialogues with specialist EAL teachers, I have been able to critically reflect upon and analyze my results, expanding my repertoire of instructional practices as a multilingual classroom teacher. By allowing me into their professional spaces, and by sharing their teaching practices as English language specialist teachers helping students, I have been both inspired and enlightened. EAL students in our communities and classrooms will bring their personal experiences and rich cultural backgrounds, created from their multigenerational histories. As teachers create welcoming classrooms, all students will receive the language support that they need, without losing their cultural beliefs and values. School families and communities can become the threads that will eventually create a fabric, rich in design and texture. In representing the Canadian mosaic of individuals, this journey metaphorically takes our students, from individual fabrics to quilts of many hues and patterns.
elementary students, refugees, language acquisition, immigrants, cultural responsiveness
Master of Education (M.Ed.)