Author: Vilma Serrano
Academic Year: 2016-17
Description: Having worked in different types of Bilingual Education placements, the support of Dual-language learners (DLL) has been at the forefront of my development as an educator. Though I worked in a bilingual preschool previously to my work in elementary settings, I did not come across specific information about Dual-Language Learners in my child development classes in college nor in my work teaching preschool in the intentional way that it was addressed within elementary school settings. This gap inspired me to think about the unique needs of DLL students and the preparation of teachers to teach them well in early childhood environments. I began
to ask myself such questions as, what does this discourse about Dual-Language Learners look like in early childhood education? Specifically, how are large urban school districts, like Oakland Unified, addressing the needs of DLL students in their early childhood classrooms? Reflecting on these questions, I am inspired to learn more about the professional development that is happening in OUSD to support TK teachers working with Dual Language Learners.
I am particularly interested in looking closely at California’s newest grade, Transitional Kindergarten (TK) as it is such a new academic alternative in early childhood education within a public school setting. I am wondering how DLLs fit into this new structure and whether any policies have been created for TK classrooms that specifically address the needs of DLL TK students and the preparation teachers need to successfully teach them. I have a particular interest in learning about how low income DLLS are being addressed in policy and practice. DLLs can be more vulnerable to being ignored and marginalized in traditional classroom settings as a result of a lack of teacher preparation on the unique needs of this population of students and the instructional strategies that optimally support their learning needs (Hammer, Jiu & Uchikoshi, 2011). My research aims to understand the policy behind TK at a state and local district level, as well as how to best support DLLs in TK informed by the research on second language acquisition. The underlying, but driving goal of this research, is to further my own understanding of becoming an effective teacher for DLL students as I prepare to enter the teaching profession.