Submitted by: Alexandra Gustad, EAL Coordinator, PreK-12 at ASB and Community Gardener with WIDA Global Community of Practice
Photos courtesy of American School of Bombay
The American School of Bombay (ASB) exists within the culturally-rich, frenetic city of Mumbai and is a microcosm of diversity. For the last 40 years, ASB has been a cherished community for hundreds of families from India and around the world. Our community represents more than 30 languages and more than 40 nationalities.
We believe in:
- Creating environments in which students feel that their languages and cultures are valued
- Collaboration between teachers, administrators, students, and parents
- Integration of content and language learning
- An assets-based approach to instruction
- Equity in opportunities and access to content
- Language as a resource for making meaning, not a set of rules
- Additive bilingualism/multilingualism –the belief that multilingualism is valued and appreciated, including the home language, rather than substituting English for another language
- Explicit instruction of academic language across disciplines
- A translanguaging pedagogy that conveys linguistic inclusion and enhances learning
At the heart of ASB’s English as an Additional Language (EAL) program is the belief in the value of diversity in our school community and in the world. Multilingualism is a resource to be honored and is inherent in the growth of dynamic identities. This language-focused approach helps educators to foster a shared responsibility for providing all of our students with a high-quality, equitable education. Our approach is strengths-based and collaborative, honoring the diverse ways of understanding the world and our place within it. At the beginning of the school year, the entire faculty engages in professional learning opportunities that highlight these language beliefs as we examine the four Big Ideas from the WIDA ELD Standards Framework, 2020 Edition, particularly in regard to equity in opportunities and access to content.
Educators at ASB provide multilingual learners (MLs) with a supportive learning environment as they acquire the instructional and social language necessary to participate in all aspects of school life. Our faculty engages in professional learning throughout the year using the WIDA ELD Standards Framework by examining Key Language Uses, Language Expectations, and the integration of content and language through collaborative structures between mainstream teachers and EAL teacher/coaches. At ASB, professional learning is delivered through multiple modalities, such as professional learning communities, all-school workshops, team and individual coaching, and synchronous and asynchronous courses. Also, incoming faculty members are required to engage in pre-approved professional learning opportunities in the area of EAL instruction within their first two years of joining our school. This ensures that educators are armed with high-leverage tools to bring to their classrooms.
The school year begins with getting to know our MLs anecdotally by building connections with students and parents, also through the use of Language History Forms, and from data collection in the form of Student Profiles. We use the WIDA MODEL assessment for yearly data collection and progress monitoring for all of our EAL students, along with universal assessments for reading and phonemic awareness/phonics. We also use the WIDA Writing Rubric to examine writing samples throughout the year to both monitor student progress and to be analyzed to inform instruction. EAL teachers go through scoring moderation sessions twice a year to maintain rater reliability.
Our collaborative model is based upon the Collaborative Instructional Cycle, in which EAL teacher coaches and mainstream teachers engage in co-planning, co-teaching, co-assessing, and co-reflecting practices. WIDA resources, such as the Can Do Descriptors and the Dimensions of Language help to inform the work towards student growth. Our collaborative spirit goes beyond our school in our work with the WIDA Global Community of Practice in an effort to share ideas around inclusive practices for multilingual learners.