2. What are some useful and appropriate supports for new TWI immersion teachers?

There is a limited research base in this area, but respondents stressed that in TWI settings, as in other educational settings, mentoring and peer coaching are two reliable and appropriate supports for new teachers. At Nestor Elementary’s 90/10 program in San Diego, new teachers are placed with a veteran TWI teacher at the same grade level. This veteran teacher is to be their mentor and to provide training and guidance throughout the year. In addition, the TWI resource teacher provides new teachers with a program overview and meets with them periodically throughout the year to provide support as needed. Likewise, at Key Elementary’s 50/50 program in Arlington, VA, the district provides a mentor for every new teacher, as they do for all new teachers in the district.

Other suggested supports for new teachers include the following:

  • A resource teacher in the classroom or an assistant to help with differentiated instruction.
  • Resources for teaching and evaluating the different components of language and content that are to be covered at a particular grade level and in a particular language (e.g., language and content standards, and lesson plan templates and examples such as those provided in this toolkit).
  • Assistance with lesson planning from a mentor or another teacher at the same grade level.
  • Opportunities for informal conversations and the exchange of ideas, such as school social gatherings.
  • Workshops and other inservice professional development opportunities.
  • Conferences, particularly those that focus on teaching in bilingual and/or TWI environments.
  • Suggestions about how to be proactive and engaged with parents, for example, through a weekly newsletter in both program languages.
  • Teacher research activities such as peer ethnography (e.g., Calderón, 1995) that promote discussion and reflection on teaching practices.

Other needed supports, based on interviews with teachers in the Amigos 50/50 program in Cambridge, MA (Cazabon, Lambert, & Heise-Baigorria, 2002) are as follows:

  • Common planning time;
  • High quality pedagogical materials in the partner language;
  • Flexibility when scheduling specials (i.e. art, music, PE, library, etc.);
  • In-class supports, such as paraprofessionals, volunteers, and interns;
  • In-class coaching model for staff development;
  • Help in working together with other program teachers as a team; and
  • Networking with staff from other TWI programs. For new programs, it is possible to set up teacher mentoring programs with experienced teachers at more established programs in the area (or online mentoring with teachers in a school that is farther away).