Prince William County Schools VA Multilingual Learner Initiative
Work alongside teachers, site leads, and district leaders to create a multi-year initiative for a large school district (approximately 89,000 students with 26% designated as English learners). The initiative includes long term, sustained improvements to the district’s programs, policies and instructional practices for maximizing the learning and growth of multilingual students. The project design is guided by our Professional Development Essentials for Educators of Multilingual Learners.
During Year One (2022-23), UL-CSET staff provided teachers and leaders with closely aligned professional learning grounded in Understanding Language’s Integrated Language & Content (ILC) Fundamentals. Teachers implemented instructional strategies aligned with the fundamentals, while leaders developed professional learning practices and a working draft of student indicators to use during classroom observations.
Teachers in year one shared videos of student-student interactions and analyzed these interactions in order to improve their practices. Site leaders shared the Fundamentals and instructional routines with their staff and reflected on the impact that these practices and routines had on student learning.
Year two (2023-24) expands the initiative, adding an additional teacher and leader cohort as well as the development of two “mentor sites” and virtual instructional coaching. UL-CSET staff and district participants in the initiative will visit the mentor sites to learn about how these sites define, implement, and make needed adjustments using a continuous improvement process that emphasizes growth in students’ agency, use of language(s), content understandings, disciplinary skills, and personal development. Furthermore, this cohort model has highlighted the importance of building cultural competency, leveraging data to drive decision making, while providing ongoing professional development for educators and their school leaders.
Finally, this collaboration is currently developing a district framework entitled Building School Leaders of English Learners to Support Language Development. This framework will offer practical strategies for building leadership capacity within schools and the district to build upon the strengths of their multilingual learners.
Watch Neil Beech, principal of Gainesville HS in Prince William County Schools, discuss the impact of working with UL colleagues Jeff Zwiers and Steven Weiss during year one of this initiative.