College of Communication & Education

School of Education Serving Educators Locally, Globally

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On February 9, the Education Specialist and Bilingual Credential Pathway Programs facilitated an Emergent Bilingual Special Education Workshop attended by future and current educators. The workshop discussed identifying the similarities and differences between language development and disabilities, and strategies for supporting all students as they develop language and literacy skills in the classroom.

This was the first time the event has been held since 2020. For the first time, 18 international teachers in the Chico State Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement program (Fulbright-TEA) joined. Fulbright Teacher Exchanges are programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX.

The Fulbright Teacher Exchange at Chico State includes six weeks of activities, training, and mentorship offered to Fulbright educators chosen from around the world. The participants are connected to host families who can show them Chico and give them a glimpse of life in the U.S.. Through the School of Education (SOE), they are also matched with teachers in local schools where they spend 6 days assisting within the classroom. On March 13, at the end of their six weeks at Chico State, the group of participants will travel to Washington D.C. to meet with other educators and to learn about how education and democracy are connected. 

The Emergent Bilingual Special Education Workshop aimed to help educators navigate teaching emergent bilingual students who may take a longer time learning English as a second language. One of the exercises during the workshop required the educators to gather in groups and solve basic math equations in various languages. Some of the Fulbright participants, who are English teachers in their home countries, recognized their languages and were able to facilitate translations. The exercise showed how the language process works and how long the process of translation can take. 

Erin Whitney, Concurrent Program Coordinator and one of the workshop presenters, noted how the process of learning a second language is often misunderstood as a learning disability. 

“You might be incredibly brilliant, and understand the math concepts fine, but then having to do that translation in your head slows you down,” she said. “It could look like that person might have a learning disability, but really, it's just the process of learning the language.” 

The exercise helped the attendees understand the difference between those with a learning disability and those who take a longer time to understand a new language. The goal was to build empathy and find ways to help all students. 

people pose for a photo on a staircase Another activity was to develop a mock individualized education plan (IEP) for a student with a disability. For a student to be identified as having a learning disability, there is a process of assessment, observation, and gathering information from various constituents, including families and the child themselves. The workshop presenters led attendees through an activity of pulling information together as a case study. The fictitious student was also an emergent bilingual learner, offering educators an opportunity to determine the best way to assist the student.

“We're really trying to focus on meeting the needs of all learners in our K-12 schools and making sure teachers have the information and the resources they need to be able to do that,” Whitney said.

Both the workshop and the Fulbright -TEA program are some of the many ways the School of Education is serving educators locally, and around the world.