You may notice that our teachers are very very busy this year, even more so than usual. Beyond the new teacher evaluation system, and the usual daily grind of teaching the most wonderful students in the world, there is another huge undertaking on their plate: RETELL.
The state has mandated that all teachers who have ELL students (English Language Learners) must be properly trained to do so. It is up to Arlington, as a district, to ensure that happens by 2016. The following is from the Massachusetts Department of Education website:
“In June 2012, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted regulations for the SEI endorsement that core academic teachers1 of English language learners (ELLs), and building administrators who supervise such teachers, must earn over the coming four school years. The new requirements are designed to strengthen instruction and better support the academic achievement of ELLs. Our work to address the ELL proficiency gap was accelerated in 2011 when the U.S. Department of Justice notified us that we must mandate professional standards for educators who provide sheltered English instruction to ELL students and must require incumbent SEI teachers to participate in updated SEI training to obtain the essential knowledge and skills needed to provide that instruction.
The centerpiece of the approved regulations is the SEI Teacher Endorsement, the credential that documents a teacher’s preparation to provide subject matter content instruction in English to students who are learning English. The new regulations require that all core academic teachers responsible for the education of one or more ELLs hold an SEI Teacher Endorsement by July 1, 2016. In addition, the SEI Administrator Endorsement establishes that a principal, assistant principal, or supervisor/director is trained to supervise or evaluate core academic teachers who provide SEI. The building administrators will be required to have their SEI Administrator Endorsement by July 1, 2016.
There are four options for incumbent SEI teachers and administrators to qualify for the endorsement:
Successfully complete a Department-approved course of study;
Pass a Department-approved test;
Hold a bachelor’s degree in a major approved by the Department (e.g., applied linguistics) or have other graduate level training approved by the Department that embodies the required standards; or
Hold an English as a Second Language or English Language Learners educator license.”
In short, our teachers are participating in a Master’s level course this year, on a series of Thursdays and Saturdays. It is a demanding course with assessments and homework.
So if it seems a little harder to meet with a teacher, there’s good reason, but don’t worry. They are still giving 110 % in our classrooms – and that’s where it really matters.