A local immigrant inclusion initiative, All for All, is recruiting English as A Second Language teachers to participate in a year-long professional development program.
ESL teachers have reported feeling isolated and overwhelmed as Pittsburgh’s immigrant and refugee population grows and diversifies. Organizers said ESL teachers in the region have limited access to training and opportunities to share best practices with other teachers.
“The idea for a community of practice came about while talking with teachers, youth and education advocates,” said All for All Project Director Betty Cruz. “They voiced a shared concern that ESL teachers feel like they are ‘on an island,’ which impacts the experiences of English learners in our region.”
Cruz said as enrollment numbers are growing in the region, one of the most immediate and obvious needs is to reach students in language. Teachers are also tasked with learning different cultures and understanding how the population is changing.
Program participants will attend workshops on how to build more welcoming schools, better connect with non-English speaking parents and meet ESL curriculum requirements.
The program grew out of Allegheny County’s plan to become a more welcoming place for immigrants and refugees. Cruz said the first cohort, which will wrap up in June, wanted to look for ways to extend engagement with English learners beyond the ESL classroom.
“So how can we get general education teachers to see the strengths and understand the needs and the opportunities with the English language learners so that they are teaching to them in a way that is relevant, and speaks to their strength,s and then bridging those lessons so there is a shared approach?” she said.
The next cohort of educators will be announced by the end of the summer.