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The Importance of Professional Development: A Critical Discourse Analysis Surrounding the Teaching of California’s Multilingual Students


To better support teachers enacting policy changes, this study investigated the influence professional development (PD) and California state policy have on teachers' views regarding teaching and feeling supported to teach multilingual students. Teacher-participants were enrolled in a two-year PD program designed to provide teachers with cognitive literacy strategies to teach multilingual students. To better understand the connection between teacher attitudes and PD during a change of policy for English learner (EL) education in California, six 7th-12th grade English/language arts teachers across three cohorts and two PD facilitators were purposefully selected. Drawing on the notion of power as product and power in discourse, Critical Discourse Analysis was conducted of data collected: interviews with teacher-participants and PD facilitators, observations of PD meetings, and written documents of state EL policy, including the California English Language Development Standards and the California EL Roadmap. Findings reveal that these teachers do not feel supported by their schools and districts to gain the necessary skills and knowledge needed to align with California EL policy. However, through the help of an outside PD program that emphasizes sociocultural learning, teacher-participants were able to collectively develop their EL-centered practice and pedagogy. As a result, both novice and expert teachers felt more confident in the classroom. These findings hold implications for the important role that PD plays in rebuilding teacher agency, communities of practice, and the need for the State to provide clear recommendations for teacher learning to effectively implement policy changes.

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