TESOL Standards.

Teacher Standards Task Force

STANDARDS for Teachers of Adult Learners (DRAFT)

Dear TESOLers,

Thank you for your interest in TESOL's Teacher Standards Project for Teachers of Adult Learners. We appreciate your willingness to review the DRAFT Standards and give us feedback at this stage in the process. In order to make the most of your time and in order for your comments to be the most valuable and helpful to the task force, we'd like to suggest a simple and straightforward procedure. Begin the process by reviewing the short article on the standards. The article provides some useful background on the standards project and explains the standards model we are using. Figure 1 within the article provides a visual representation and summary of the Standards. Begin with the three standards in the inner circle next to student learning (i.e. planning, instructing, assessing) and work towards the five standards in the outer circles.

The DRAFT Teacher Standards will be posted until February 15, 2000. Comments and feedback are most appreciated. Please e-mail your comments to Srisucha McCabe smccabe@tesol.org. She will be collecting all feedback and comments for the Teacher Standards Task Force (TSTF) for review at our meeting in St. Louis.

Once again, we thank you for your help.

Teacher Standards Task Force
Mary Ann Christison, Chair TSTF
Donald Freeman
Denise Murray
Sharon Seymour

At its March 1998 board meeting, TESOL created a Teacher Standards task Force, whose charge is to develop a framework of standards for teachers who work with adult learners in the U.S. The TESOL Board decided to begin with the U.S. first and then investigate the applicability of the standards for settings outside of the U.S. The task force will manage the development of these TEACHERS standards and will oversee their dissemination so that they may have impact within TESOL profession. The challenge is that these standards are to be applicable to the various adult ESL settings including community colleges, in both credit and non-credit courses; adult education programs; IEP programs; programs in university for matriculated university students; and for adult learners in workplace sites.

TESOL also has another Task Force working in teacher standards. The other task force is known as the P-12 Teacher Education Standards task force. This task force is concurrently writing standards for teachers who teach in P-12 education in the US. These standards are being developed in conjunction with TESOL's membership in NCATE -- The National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. NCATE will adopt them as part of its system of accrediting teacher education programs at U.S. universities.

Although the audiences for these two sets of standards are different, the two task forces share a common orientation towards their task. We agree that standards should be performance-based. This means that standards will define what teacher candidates need to know and be able to do, the knowledge, skills and dispositions that we believe are essential for good and effective teaching in these settings. Further the assessment of the candidate's knowledge, skills and dispositions will be based on performance indicators. These indicators are statements of ways in which a candidate can demonstrate that he or she has achieved the standard.

Performance-based assessment differs from earlier teacher assessment designs, such as competency-based teacher education, because it is a coherent system that flows from a single over-arching of standards. These standards lay out the profession's view of good teaching in these settings. Performance-based standards follow the logic that:

We believe that TESOL's move to standards and performance-based assessment of teaching will serve members and the profession in defining what we see as good and effective teaching.

TESOL's Performance-based Standards for Teachers of Adult ESL students in the U.S. can best be explained by looking at Figure 1 below.

Figure 1, explaining the performance-based standards.

Figure 1 is a visual representation of the TESOL Teacher Standards model. In the center of the model you will find a circle representing student learning. Student learning is in the center of the teacher standards model because student learning is central concern for all teachers. Surrounding student learning in three concentric circles are the 10 TESOL Standards for teachers of adult learners. These standards support and sustain student learning in the center. Planning, Instructing, and Assessing are the first three Standards. Planning is the way in which a teacher plans for, adjusts, and follows up on instruction. Instructing is what teachers do in a classroom setting. Assessing is the way in which a teacher uses knowledge and student performance to make decisions about future planning and instruction.

The next circle contains two standards-Advocating and Professionalism. Advocating is the way in which a teacher takes from the "community" information that will help guide planning, instruction, and assessment, and takes from student learning to inform and change the community. It is a reciprocal process-the community and the classroom. Professionalism is the way in which a teacher engages in the larger learning community of ESL teachers and other teachers in such activities as peer coaching, publications, research, professional association activity, and collegiality.

The outer circle contains five standards--Language, Learning, Identity and Setting, Content, and Professional Community. Language refers to what language is and how it is used. Learning refers to an understanding of the learning process in formal and informal settings and the specific requirements and place of language in that process. Identity and Setting focus on who the learners and how their communities, heritages, and goals shape learning and their experiences of learning. Also included in this standard are socio-cultural and socio-political environments which create and influence identity and, therefore, learning. Content refers to the teacher having content-area expertise, knowing how to collaborate with content-area teachers, or being able to facilitate the independent learning of content The Professional Community standard is understanding the nature of ESL teaching as part of and in relation to the broader teaching community.

Collectively, these 10 standards represent the core of what the TESOL association believes professional teachers of English as a second language to adult learners should know and be able to do.

Now that we have the model for the standards and the draft standards themselves, the next step in the process is to get feedback from the TESOL membership. If you have an interest in and/or expertise in teacher standards, we need your help. The draft standards will be posted on TESOL's Web site until February 15, 2001. Please forward your comments on the draft standards to Srisucha McCabe at TESOL Central Office by e-mail at smccabe@tesol.org. She will be collecting your comments for review by the TSTF. The task force will meet again in St. Louis at the TESOL 2001 TESOL Convention. Once we have received your feedback and made revisions to the draft standards, we will be moving ahead with the writing of the performance indicators. Groups will be appointed to work with the different standards. We will be eliciting feedback from the TESOL membership throughout the process, so please watch for our notices and calls for feedback.

Standard 1: Identity and settings

Teachers understand the importance of who learners are and how their communities, heritages and goals shape their learning and expectations of learning. Teachers recognize the importance of the sociocultural and sociopolitical settings - home, community, workplace and school - that contributing to creating identity and therefore influence learning.

Extended Narrative:

Learners bring who they are--their backgrounds, experiences, and heritages--to any learning situation. It is, therefore, critical for teachers to recognize the legitimacy and diversity of the identities of the learners with whom they are working, and to understand how these identities shape both what learners do and what they may expect in the classroom. Such recognition will be manifested in many ways-- through the teacher's actions and responses to learners, through the interpersonal climate of the classroom, and through the design and management of activities. The challenge of successful teaching in this regard is to blend an understanding of learners with a knowledge of their content goals and how to achieve those goals.

Standard 2: Language

Teachers understand and recognize the importance of the structure and function of language.

Extended narrative:

In the structure of language we include knowledge of phonetics, phonology, morphology, orthography, semantics, syntax, and genres or text structures. We also include the ability to use the knowledge of language structure to respond insightfully to student errors, choose examples for clarifying concepts, explaining words and their parts, or judging what the language focus of an ESL lesson should be. For example, suppose a teacher needs to help learners distinguish between the vowels in well/will, pin/pen, or pool/pull. Talking about long and short vowels is unlikely to prevent learners from making errors. On the other hand, knowing how the vowels are articulated helps a teacher focus learners on how the vowels feel in the mouth when they are spoken.

By the function of language, we mean understanding the dynamics of language as language is used in daily life, work, and academic settings, to accomplish the user's ends. This includes the socio-, para-, and extralinguistic dimensions of language, understanding of language varieties, e.g.'standard' and vernacular forms as well as sociopolitical aspects of how languages are valued and how their users can be categorized through their use of language.

Language is not a static system, nor is it a neutral one. Users (i.e., teachers and learners) have both positions and vested interests in the system. Therefore, teachers need to understand the power inherent in their knowledge of language. They also need to be sensitive to how they use their knowledge of language in presenting content, assessing learners, and correcting their errors. Teachers must be responsive to learners' uses of and experiences with a language that is not yet fully their own.

Standard 3: Learning

Teachers understand and foster the learning process in formal and non-formal settings. To that end, teachers understand the characteristics of language and the place language plays in language learning and help learners understand what language is and how language learning works.

Extended Narrative:

The central focus of a teacher's work is understanding the learning process and, particularly, how people learn language. Teaching, no matter how proficient it is, does not cause learning; rather, it supports learning. Thus, there is no single or definitive view of learning. It is critical that teachers know about theories of adult and social learning generally and about second language acquisition in particular. It is important that teachers understand that such theories provide alternative frameworks for labeling and interpreting what learners expect and what they do. Most critically, however, teachers need to recognize their own assumptions about learning and habits as learners. Teachers need to be able to question what they believe about learning in the face of what is happening in their classrooms. They must be able to gather information from learners in the process of learning, to analyze and interpret what they see, and, on that basis, to rethink what they are doing. Thus, recognizing and understanding learning provides the on-going dynamic through which teachers gauge and improve their teaching.

Standard 4: Professional community

Teachers understand the nature of ESL teaching as part of and in relation to the broader teaching community. Teachers support the advancement of the field of TESOL - through research and practice - within the broader education community.

Extended narrative:

TESOL, as a teaching profession, is part of the wider community of educators. This community plays two roles for ESL learners and teachers: it provides research and theory about learning and pedagogy that can inform the TESOL profession, and it is often the community in which ESL learners will engage when they take discipline-specific courses. The TESOL profession both contributes to and is informed by advances in pedagogical and learning theory. Therefore, ESL teachers need to keep abreast of new developments in learning theory and pedagogy, examining how these new developments might apply to the teaching of ESL.

In postsecondary settings, ESL serves a variety of purposes and needs of learners. Many learners are concurrently taking courses in other disciplines or plan to do so in the future. Teachers, therefore, need to understand what other disciplines require of second language learners and understand the variety of models of content-based instruction that can support learners to learn both content and language simultaneously.

Standard 5: Content

Teachers understand and recognize the importance of the connections among concepts, procedures, and applications from content areas relevant to learners in furthering their language proficiency. Teachers may understand the content themselves, may collaborate with content area specialists, or may identify appropriate strategies to help the learners discover the content themselves.

Extended Narrative:

Many adult ESL learners are preparing for college, professional training, or the workplace environment. Adult ESL learners need to acquire the information of their specific content areas, develop skills to gather, synthesize and evaluate the information, and use these skills to organize their own ideas. There are at least three ways that teachers can make certain that learners have the opportunity to develop content area expertise. First, teachers may acquire the content area expertise themselves and teach it to their learners. This situation is common in ESL classrooms where the ESL teacher received training and developed expertise in another discipline before choosing TESL as a profession. Second, teachers may collaborate with content-area specialists in a variety of ways. Teachers may seek advice from content-area specialists in planning lessons, developing a basic curriculum, teaching an ESL course as a cooperative team, or inviting the content-area specialists to class as guest lecturers. Third, teachers may also help learners develop independent and autonomous learning strategies to discover and acquire the content on their own. Developing strategies for using libraries, knowing more about themselves as learners, accessing information on-line, and developing networks give learners the skills to acquire content on their own. Knowing which of these procedures to choose, when to choose them, and why the choices are made, are important skills for all teachers. Content-area expertise is critical for all second language learners.

Standard 6: Professionalism

Teachers understand the importance of and are able to build relationships within the school and the wider professional community to support their own ongoing learning as teachers in order to enhance the learning and wellbeing of their students. Teachers contribute to developing and sustaining a professional community.

Extended Narrative:

TESOL is often marginalized within education, often because other educators do not understand either the theory or practice of our profession. Therefore, TESOL teachers need to interact in the broader education community to inform other educators about the field of TESOL. Such activities can include presenting at conferences, publishing in journals of other disciplines, and engaging in discussions with other discipline faculty at their sites.

ESL learners and learning is often misunderstood by other educators. Often, non-language educators, for example, have unrealistic expectations about the speed of language acquisition or of the possibility of native-like competence of adult learners. Therefore, ESL teachers need to maintain a high profile at their own teaching site to help other educators understand the nature of language and second language learning.

Since one of the major aspects of any profession is professional associations that represent and advance the field, ESL teachers need to actively participate in professional associations. Through such participation, teachers can develop their own knowledge and skills by learning from others and they can contribute their own discoveries about language and language learning. ESL teachers must also develop leadership skills in order to maintain high profiles at their teaching sites and participate actively in professional associations.

Standard 7: Advocacy

Teachers understand the importance of and are able to foster relationships among teachers, students and the larger community to support students' learning and wellbeing. Teachers also take information from the community information that will help guide planning, instruction, and assessment and take information from student learning to inform and change the community.

Extended narrative:

ESL teachers take the initiative to develop relationships among all teachers, learners, and the community. Such relationships can be both informal and formal. Informal relationships can include occasional invitations to colleagues to attend ethnic community events or inviting ethnic community members to participate in educational activities. Formal relationships can include establishing campus or community steering committees that include other educators, ethnic community members, and community members at large.

As a result of these informal and formal relationships, teachers will learn about their learners' communities and use this knowledge to guide their practice. They will also use their own knowledge of language and language learning to help inform ethnic communities and the wider community, including policy makers. Thus they can help the community understand, for example, the special needs of learners who have experienced torture and trauma or to become tolerant of learners who speak and write with an accent. Teachers will take every opportunity to represent the interests of their learners to policy makers, whether at the local site, the state, or nation. They will help policy makers understand the complexity of language and language learning so that educational and other social policies will be responsive to the actual needs of second language learners.

Standard 8: Planning

Teachers understand and are able to plan instruction for student learning, adjust instruction in relation to ongoing learning, and follow-up on student learning.

Extended narrative:

Teachers must be able to plan lessons and curriculum to facilitate English language learning and the subject matter being taught. Teachers must be able to plan instruction that takes into account students' backgrounds, prior knowledge, and current interests. Teachers must plan for both long and short term learning goals and include in the planning a repertoire of instructional strategies to address individual learner differences. Teachers must be able to diagnose what learners already know and what they don't in order to be able to plan lessons that meet learner needs. When learning goals are not met, teachers must be able to make decisions quickly about how to proceed and adjust instruction in relation to ongoing learning. When learning goals are met, teachers must also be able to develop plans for following up on learning.

Standard 9: Instructing

Teachers provide learning opportunities that create active and respectful engagement among learners and between learners and the teacher.

Extended Narrative:

Teachers must create physical and virtual environments that engage all learners in purposeful learning activities and encourage constructive interactions among learners. Teachers must manage these interactions in such a way as to encourage learners to participate in making decisions and in working both individually and collaboratively as appropriate. Teachers must be able to present concepts clearly and respond to learner questions effectively. Expectations for learner behavior must be established early, clearly understood, and consistently maintained. Teachers must make effective use of instructional time. Teachers must use a variety of appropriate resources and strategies in teaching concepts. Teachers must provide opportunities for learning through problem solving and critical thinking activities. Teachers must help all learners gain access to useful material, resources, and technologies to support their learning of English and subject matter.

Standard 10: Assessing

Teachers recognize the importance of and are able to gather and interpret information about learning and performance in order to ensure the continuous intellectual and social development of each student. Teachers use knowledge of student performance to make decisions about future and planning and instruction "in situ" and for the future.

Extended narrative:

Teachers plan assessments to evaluate student learning and achievement of learning objectives. Teachers use the information from such assessment for multiple purposes, including planning of future instruction. They use a variety of assessment tools, both formal and informal. They encourage learners in self-assessment of their learning. They ensure that decisions about students are based on assessments that are tied closely to learning objectives, are multi-modal, purposeful and systematic, demonstrate student learning, and include student self-reflection. Teachers also assess student learning "in situ." Teachers engage in self-reflection and examination of their own teaching in order to become more accomplished at "in situ" assessment and adaptation of instruction based on such assessment.