Preparing and Supporting Teachers to Equitably Support Multilingual and Multicultural Learners.

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Blain, Charlotte, Education - School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
Paulick, Judith, ED-CISE, University of Virginia
Youngs, Peter, ED-CISE, University of Virginia

U.S. law requires that schools provide all students with equal access to high-quality education (U.S. Department of Education, 2015). This mandate creates a need for teachers across disciplines to be trained to develop the skills and attitudes necessary to teach a diverse student population (Coady et al., 2016; Cummins, 2009; de Jong & Harper, 2005; Echevarría et al., 2006; Fillmore & Snow, 2000; Lucas & Villegas, 2010; Samson & Collins, 2012). Teachers need specific types of experiences to develop these professional skills and attitudes, which they can access in various spaces, including preservice teacher education (Devine et al., 2012; Lin et al., 2008) and in-service professional development (Calderón, 2020; Echevarría et al., 2006; Neumayer DePiper et al., 2021). Teacher educators (TEs; Devine et al., 2012; Lin et al., 2008) and school principals (Kurt et al., 2012; Leithwood & Mascall, 2008; Thornton et al., 2020) play a key role in facilitating these learning opportunities for teachers.

To instruct diverse students well, teachers need skills that promote equitable student learning opportunities. Studies show that teachers’ instructional quality plays a critical role in students’ equitable achievement (e.g., Wahlstrom et al., 2010). However, general instructional quality is not enough – teachers also need the skills to be able to carry out specific instructional strategies to meet the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students (Coady et al., 2016; Cummins, 2009; de Jong & Harper, 2005; Echevarría et al., 2006; Fillmore & Snow, 2000; Lucas & Villegas, 2010; Samson & Collins, 2012; Siwatu, 2007). Some preservice teaching programs offer coursework that prepares teachers to instruct multilingual and multicultural learners, but these opportunities are limited. As a result, K-12 schools often shoulder the responsibility of developing teachers’ skills in these areas (Kim & Morita-Mulaney, 2020).

Teachers’ efficacy beliefs (including self- and collective efficacy) convey the extent to which teachers feel they are able to carry out instructional tasks, including instructing MLs and other students from marginalized backgrounds (Bandura, 1977; 1993; 1997; Caprara, et al. 2006; Goddard et al., 2000; Goddard et al., 2017; Holzberger et al., 2013; Klassen & Tze, 2014; Pajares, 1996). When teachers have higher efficacy beliefs, they tend to provide higher quality instruction (Holzberger et al., 2013; Klassen & Tze, 2014), and this extends to teaching MLs and other marginalized students (Kim & Morita-Mulaney, 2020). Therefore, it is important to understand the types of experiences teachers need in order to develop higher self- and collective efficacy beliefs.

Alongside the necessary instructional skills for teaching multilingual and multicultural students, teachers’ attitudes about students and their families can influence teachers’ instructional impact. For example, the biases that teachers hold about students and families and the extent to which teachers emphasize students’ assets rather than deficits can impact teachers’ instructional decisions (Lin et al., 2008; López, 2017). Studies have demonstrated that bias can impact teachers’ instructional quality specifically related to marginalized students (Kumar et al., 2015). On the other hand, when teachers have positive attitudes about students and families, teachers can be more motivated to pursue challenging instructional tasks to support their students’ academic success. Anti-bias teacher education can promote more equitable attitudes and instructional skills (Derman-Sparks, 2016; Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2019).

Therefore, teachers’ attitudes and skills do not operate in isolation. Teachers' attitudes influence the likelihood that teachers enact their learned skills to offer high-quality instruction to the diverse learners in their classrooms. Teacher education, including both preservice and in-service teacher education, can positively impact the ways in which teachers provide high-quality, equitable instruction to the diverse learners in their classrooms (Calderón, 2020; Devine et al., 2012; Echevarría et al., 2006; Lin et al., 2008; Neumayer DePiper et al., 2021). When preservice teachers (PSTs) are given opportunities to learn specific instructional skills and develop asset-based attitudes towards marginalized/minoritized learners, they display higher efficacy for anti-bias teaching (Devine et al., 2012; Lin et al., 2008). TEs are instrumental in providing this instruction. Similarly, when teachers are given professional development opportunities, their efficacy for instructing MLs increases (Calderón, 2020; Echevarría et al., 2006; Neumayer DePiper et al., 2021). Principals play a key role in providing these professional development opportunities (Kurt et al., 2012; Thornton et al., 2020).

In this dissertation, I address two key components of teacher training and professional development to promote equitable instruction for diverse students. The first component (addressed in Manuscript #1) focuses on anti-bias teacher education, and specifically, the experience of TEs as they participated in an anti-bias teaching module that they planned to later implement with the PSTs they taught. The second component (addressed in Manuscripts #2 and #3) focused on in-service teachers’ efficacy beliefs for instructing multilingual learners (MLs) and ways in which principal leadership can support teachers’ instructional efficacy for MLs.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
English Learners, Elementary Education, Principal Leadership, Teacher Efficacy
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