by Mark McGowan
Teacher educators and clinical field supervisors are attending NIU’s second Project Success Summer Academy this week.
The five-day workshop in Gabel Hall is just one component of the federally funded initiative to boost the number of Illinois classroom teachers and other educators with approval to teach English-as-a-second-language and/or bilingual students.
“We have invited in a number of outside experts who will come and lead workshops on various aspects of teacher-training topics dealing with bilingual learners, including methods of teaching second-language learners and assessment of second-language learners,” said Richard Orem, author of the $1.5 million grant that created Project Success.
“By participating in this summer academy, they will be able to better prepare teachers for the new world of public school education,” Orem added. “The demographic of English language learners is the fastest-growing demographic across the United States, but in Illinois in particular.”
Orem, a Presidential Teaching Professor in the Department of Literacy Education, gave this morning’s introductory session on the policy and demographics of English language learners.
Friday’s closing session will feature a panel of classroom teachers and an administrator who will discuss their experiences with English language learners and their expectations for teacher preparation programs in Illinois.
The problems that new teachers face when educating linguistically diverse students is also among this week’s workshop topics.
“The major feedback we get from our graduates who go out into the classroom is that they felt inadequately prepared to work with English language learners. This has been an issue we’ve been struggling with for a few years now,” Orem said. “Right now, we do not offer courses at the undergraduate level as part of the traditional teacher certification program that deal with these issues.”
NIU’s partners in Project Success include Aurora University, Benedictine University, Judson College, Lewis University and North Central College. Partner school districts include DeKalb, Elgin, Schaumburg, Waukegan and the Lee-Ogle, LaSalle-Peru and Whiteside regional offices of education.
NIU receives $300,000 each year in the renewable five-year grant, each year of which is subject to review. The first round of Title III funding from the U.S. Department of Education came in 2007.