Maryland expands professional learning opportunities focused on young multilingual children

October 6, 2021

What’s the next step for a WIDA Early Years member state after a group of early years professionals complete an offering of the WIDA Early Years Professional Learning Cohort? The next step is for cohort participants to share their knowledge! Cohort participants are expected to design, deliver, and evaluate professional learning opportunities on the WIDA Early Years Essential Actions for local early care and education professionals who serve multilingual children and their families.

Partners from the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) share the process they engaged in with a group of trainers to develop a suite of state-approved trainings. Additionally, a few Maryland trainers who participated in the WIDA Early Years Professional Learning Cohort in 2020 and helped design the trainings offer their valuable insights.

Designing and developing trainings

How did MSDE support the efforts of the trainers as they worked on these trainings? What plans, if any, does MSDE have to continue to support or collaborate with this group? How do these new trainings help advance state initiatives focused on young multilingual children? Julia Chavez and Deborah Langer from MSDE respond to these key questions.

MSDE recruited eight trainers from the cohort to develop a series of training modules. The trainers met several times to determine how each module would be developed. Together they decided on the format (one 3-hour orientation and seven 2-hour trainings), the content, and the layout of the materials.

The training approval specialist from MSDE supported the group of trainers. She met with them, responded to their questions, and addressed concerns throughout the process. They worked together to provide peer review during the development. At the end of the process, the training series was reviewed and approved by MSDE.

The training approval specialist will continue to meet with the trainers quarterly to gain insight on the successes and challenges they may encounter as they begin to roll out the training. Technical assistance will also be provided as needed. In addition, funding is available to assist individual providers in defraying the cost of training through the Maryland Child Care Credential Training Voucher/Reimbursement program. To help raise awareness about these trainings, MSDE will provide marketing materials, and advertise the training on the MSDE website, in a bi-weekly publication and in the quarterly newsletter.

These trainings, and the certified MSDE trainers who are prepared to facilitate them, help MSDE focus on implementing WIDA Early Years resources for supporting young multilingual children and families. The trainings provide a solid foundation in WIDA concepts and tools to ensure that early childhood providers are equipped to implement culturally competent strategies in family engagement and language-focused approaches in a variety of learning environments. More specifically, these trainings directly support the six goals of Maryland Ready, which is Maryland’s strategic plan for school readiness success. Maryland Ready’s goals are to strengthen availability and access, improve and support program quality, deepen family engagement, ensure successful transition experiences, expand and enhance workforce development and improve systems for infrastructure, data and resource management.

Trainers

Three of the Maryland trainers, Lauren Bond, Sheila George, and Steve Rohde, shared that they were motivated to participate by a desire to meet a growing need to offer trainings for the early care and education community in Maryland that are focused on equitable support for multilingual children and their families. They were eager to pass on what they had learned in the WIDA Early Years Professional Learning Cohort and create consistent messaging and content for their early care and education professionals.

When asked what advice they had for state leaders, they shared that it was important for leaders to communicate a clear goal of what the expectations were for those who completed the Cohort, and what would be developed as a result of the professional collaboration.

Lauren, Sheila and Steve offered this advice for other Professional Learning Cohort graduates seeking to collaboratively develop trainings or offerings in their state:

  • Collaborate to design the schedule and divide up the work, including identifying a point person who helps monitor the timeline and performs check-ins.
  • Choose which WIDA Early Years resources will be included in each training to avoid repetition and ensure key resources are introduced.
  • Develop a template and style guide for all members to use to ensure a consistent flow across the collection of trainings.

Looking ahead: Plans for delivering and evaluating trainings

Maryland launched the first of these trainings in August. The rest of the series will be offered throughout the year. As mentioned, there are plans for ongoing support between the trainers and the training approval specialist in order to collaboratively evaluate and review the trainings.

Learn more

Interested in learning more about how WIDA Early Years can support your state in advancing state initiatives focused on young multilingual children? Contact EarlyYears@wida.us for more information or to learn more about how your state can become a member of WIDA Early Years.

Gratitude

The WIDA Early Years team would like to thank the following Maryland early childhood professionals for contributing to this article:

Maryland State Department of Education

Julia Chavez
Deborah Langer

Maryland State Approved Trainers

Lauren Bond
Sheila George
Steve Rohde

About the Author

Patricia Blanco is a professional learning specialist with WIDA Early Years. Her work focuses on designing and facilitating professional learning opportunities for educators who work with young multilingual children and their families. 

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