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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The collaborative role of an ESL support teacher in a secondary school : supporting ESL students and content teachers utilizing integrated language and content instruction Konnert, Michele Rand

Abstract

This research project was conducted with social studies and English teachers and ESL students in mainstream classes at a secondary school in Richmond, B.C. over a seven-month period from September 1998 to March 1999. As an action researcher, I solved problems through team work and through following a cyclical process of 1. strategic planning, 2. action, 3. observation, evaluation and self-evaluation, and 4. critical and self-critical reflection on the cycle (McNiff, Lomax, & Whitehead, 1996). The findings included in this study are a definition of the ESL support role, effectiveness of the ESL support program, teacher collaboration, application of the ILC approach and the Knowledge Framework (Mohan, 1986), challenges and issues for content teachers and ESL students, and the dual role as support teacher and researcher. First, with regard to a definition of the ESL support role, ESL support teachers were viewed by myself and the administration as language development specialists who act as consultants, with a focus on co-teaching and individual instruction. Colleagues perceived the ESL support team as ESL trained teachers who must prove their effectiveness through action, rather than words, in content teachers' classrooms. ESL students viewed the ESL support teachers as a welcome support or unwelcome intruders. Second, with regard to the effectiveness of the ESL support program, the administration and I felt that the program provided exceptional support services to content teachers and ESL students. ESL students also felt that the ESL support program was very helpful. Colleagues, however, were initially skeptical of the program, but eventually valued the support. Third, collaboration increased over time as ESL support specialists worked in cooperative relationships with content teachers. Fourth, the ILC approach was selectively, and at times superficially, implemented in content courses. Also, the Knowledge Framework was the most successful teaching method for ESL support of content teachers and ESL students. Fifth, there were many challenges for content teachers, ESL learners, and ESL support specialists. One challenge was the lack of English spoken by our student population. Another concern was the appearance of passivity of ESL students. Also, assessment and evaluation of ESL students was very difficult for content teachers. Thus, content instructors needed to learn alternate assessment and evaluation strategies for their ESL learners. In addition, teachers wondered about their ESL students' comprehension and exam preparation. Lastly, tensions inevitably arose from the dual role as teacher and researcher.

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