Mei French, Ashima Suri and Rita Alexander

In multicultural and multilingual school contexts, it is beneficial for all teachers to develop strong intercultural relationship skills and understand the role of multilingualism in the classroom in order to support English learning across the curriculum. As colleagues in a South Australian secondary school, Mei, Ashima, and Rita, designed and delivered a whole-school professional learning program which addressed this need. They advocated for EALD students as individuals and experts, and invited colleagues to learn more about the lives, strengths and resources of the EALD learners in their classes. Over the course of a school year, teachers were encouraged to take on the role of learner, to listen to students’ stories, and to learn new skills from them. Teachers reported improved understanding of their students’ life experiences, deeper empathy, more positive relationships, and adopted more creative approaches to pedagogy that support English learning across the curriculum. While the EALD specialists running these workshops reported feeling re-energised by their role in the program. This professional learning program was memorable, sustainable and allowed all teachers to rethink themselves as co-learners with EALD students.

In this webinar, Mei, Ashima and Rita outline the program they conducted in the school, and give advice to webinar participants about planning a professional learning program for their own context, drawing on the EALD elaborations to the AITSL standards.

Presenters
Mei, Ashima and Rita worked together teaching multilingual young women at a South Australian secondary school.

Now based in Canberra, Mei French is an EALD specialist, who combines secondary school teaching with teacher education and curriculum development. She has been an active contributor to advocacy and professional learning through TESOL associations. Her PhD investigated the complex and purposeful multilingual practices of secondary school students and their teachers, and the implications for practice and policy.

Ashima Suri is an EAL and Science teacher. As an EAL network teacher in Adelaide, Ashima has worked across different schools, supporting both students and staff to use different pedagogies to support the development of academic English for students. She takes particular interest in the many ways multilingual students contribute significantly to the school community.

Rita Alexander is an experienced teacher who has worked with EAL learners at all stages of schooling from early childhood to Year 12. Rita’s career has seen her work in a broad range of contexts across South Australia. Rita takes particular interest in harnessing students’ varied cultural and linguistic experiences to construct positive learning identities and supporting the learning of English language across the curriculum.

Greg Gow, Program Coordinator, Schools Support Program & Matt Rodger, Schools Support Officer West Region, Schools Support Program

‘School is where you need to be equal and learn’: Insights from students of refugee backgrounds on learning and engagement in Victorian secondary schools (2019)

This report presents the findings of a research project conducted by the Schools Support Program at the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture (Foundation House). This project sought out the insights of students of refugee backgrounds on the barriers and facilitators to learning and engagement at school. Focus groups were conducted at three Victorian secondary schools, with 51 students (aged 13-19). The students were all from refugee backgrounds and had arrived in Australia within the past seven years. Through this project the Schools Support Program was able to learn directly from students of refugee backgrounds and position them, through their lived experience, as experts on ‘what works’ to support them at school.

In this webinar, Greg and Matt take you through the findings of this report and provide insights into how this report can inform practice at your school.

 

 

Powerpoint Presentation:

Worksheets:

VicTESOL’s Teaching and Learning Cycle project, launched in 2018, was made possible by the generous support of a Victorian Department of Education and Training (DET) Common Funding Agreement (CFA). VicTESOL has also contributed to this project.

VicTESOL enlisted the specialist Prof Beverly Derewianka, an expert in EAL and mainstream language education and literacy, to work with a team of teachers from various schools in Victoria. They spent several days studying the Teaching and Learning Cycle, then went back to their schools to produce a Unit of Work relevant for their specific context.

We are proud to share these Units of Work with the education community.