Dr. Sally Nathenson-Mejía is an Associate Professor in the Literacy, Language and Culturally Responsive Teaching program at the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Education & Human Development. Her research in secondary education for English learners is conducted in collaboration with a team of professors and educators working on two National Professional Development grants. Her research in the field of K-5 English learners’ literacy development is conducted in collaboration with teachers and administrators in the Denver metropolitan area. Dr. Nathenson-Mejia is co-author, with Dr. Maria Uribe, of the book Literacy Essentials for English Language Learners (2008). Together they are researching building-wide literacy initiatives for schools with high English learner populations. She presents and does workshops nationally on K-5 English learners’ literacy development and instructional implications.
In this space, over the past several months, educators have discussed how we must attend to the needs of English language learners and to the professional development models we are using to build capacity among teachers for working with ELL students. I would like to build on the ideas and knowledge of previous contributors by discussing efforts we are making at the University of Colorado Denver to address both of these concerns.
What is the relationship between Professional Development and student engagement/achievement?
“…students’ achievement will not improve unless and until we create schools and districts where all educators are learning how to significantly improve their skills as teachers and as instructional leaders” (Wagner et al, 2006, pg. 23).
As university faculty who specialize in teaching English learners and providing professional development for teachers, we get excited about the prospect of working with districts to help all educators improve. We want to be involved with school administrators and teachers as they find ways to impact the engagement and achievement of ELL students. It is this excitement that led us to the work we are doing with two Colorado districts that have high populations of English learners.