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DSF Consulting December 2011 Newsletter

December 2011 has been a truly exciting month for DSF Consulting, a woman owned small business founded by Dr. Diane Staehr Fenner and located in the Washington, DC metro area that is dedicated to the achievement of English Learners (ELs) in US K-12 settings.

The most important news this month is that DSF Consulting will be partnering with the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Applied Linguistics Department to create a professional development (PD) course for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).  The course is called Rethinking Equity and Teaching of English Language Learners (RETELL), and it will be a high quality, research based and innovative 3 credit graduate course specifically for content teachers who are instructing ELs now and in the future. The course will be specially designed and differentiated to meet the needs of the Commonwealth’s teachers who work with ELs in different contexts, such as elementary classrooms and secondary content area classrooms. We will create this blended PD course (with instruction taking place online and in face to face settings) beginning in January 2012, and the course and materials will be completed by early spring. Diane will be meeting with DESE and the University of Massachusetts Boston in early January to begin the intensive planning and course design process.

December also brought multiple opportunities to collaborate with different groups of stakeholders to ensure that ELs receive an equitable education. One of the first opportunities to collaborate and exchange ideas was during Diane’s presentation with Karlene Lee, former Associate Superintendent of Clark County, Nevada schools. Diane and Karlene presented on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards for ELs at the Learning Forward conference in Anaheim, CA. This 3-hour interactive session was well attended by teachers, administrators, policymakers, and researchers from across the country. The Colorín Colorado website will be posting this presentation’s Power Point slides in the very near future, and Diane will update this newsletter with a link once that has been finalized.

Diane also took part in a two-day meeting with the American Federation of Teachers as part of her work with AFT’s i3 grant to create teacher evaluation systems for general education teachers in New York State and Rhode Island that are inclusive of ELs and students with disabilities. The goal of the meetings in December was to plan professional development for teacher evaluators in those states as they work with the pilot systems that are inclusive of these populations of students. Through some effective collaboration, we met our goal and are looking forward to training evaluators on what effective teaching of ELs looks like within a general education setting.

Teacher evaluation that is inclusive of ELs continues to be a hot topic, as Diane also took part in an expert forum hosted by the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality at the American Institutes for Research in Washington, DC. At this meeting, Diane shared expertise with stakeholders representing school districts, professional organizations, universities, and the US Department of Education. This first meeting was intended to explore pertinent topics and determine the next steps to ensure the issue of evaluating general education teachers who work with ELs in their classrooms is a part of dialogues at the federal, state, and district levels.

The year ends with the satisfaction of collaboration and conversations with researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to provide an equitable education for ELs and the resources teachers and administrators need to effectively teach these students. DSF Consulting looks forward to the challenges ahead in 2012.

Diane Staehr Fenner