Alabama teachers learn best practices for dual-language students — virtually

Five coaches and 37 teachers attended a virtual summer learning program through the IMPACT-PD grant to learn how to best teach dual-language students.

Young English teacher giving online lessonsSince 2016, the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Kelly Hill, Ph.D., has assisted educators in learning to teach dual-language students through the Improving Preschoolers’ Acquisition of Language through Coaching Teachers and Professional Development grant. This summer, the coronavirus pandemic did not stop her from continuing her work.

The grant enhances teachers’ education so they can better teach their students who may be dual-language learners. The aim of the program is to improve instruction for pre-kindergarten English learners.

This summer, 37 teachers and five coaches participated in a virtual summer program where they went through four days of training to learn best practices for teaching dual-language learners.

Part of the yearly summer program includes a Family Literacy Night, an education workshop to help families of children learning English as an additional language understand the importance of reading together, and how to best support their child’s academics.

This night allows the teachers participating in the program to have a hands-on experience utilizing skills they have learned.

Due to COVID-19, the 2020 literacy night was moved to an online format. Teachers met virtually with 71 students and families from Tarrant Elementary and Glen Iris Elementary and taught shared reading and family engagement lesson plans.

Teachers continue to meet with students virtually each week and use art as a means to strengthen communication.  

Teachers who participate in the IMPACT-PD program outperform comparison teachers on an assessment of ESL content knowledge, and they showed significant growth in confidence of meeting the needs of English-learning students on multiple instructional variables.

“We all know that teaching young children remotely is not the best approach,” said Hill, IMPACT-PD’s principal investigator and assistant professor in the UAB School of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction. “In the midst of the pandemic, the teachers were able to try out new techniques and receive feedback to better their instruction and promote student learning.

“This helped them move toward more meaningful and engaging online instruction for all young learners.” 

To learn more about the IMPACT-PD, click here.