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Learning Language – Professional Development

AT SCHOOL . 2015, 2016

The Learning Language professional development program brings together content on language development and strategies for pedagogical supervisors to use when planning and analyzing in-class learning opportunities with teachers. Based on the Learning Language platform, this guide provides detailed protocols for professional development sessions and classroom activities.

In 2015, the first edition was tested in four nursery schools and preschools in Franco da Rocha, a municipality in Greater São Paulo. Analysis of the results informed revisions to the guide and provided insight into how to adapt it for use with other age groups.

Through a partnership established in 2014 with a public nursery school in São Paulo city, we were able to videotape activities with children. These activities were inspired by the original guide, and illustrate best practices for creating effective language learning opportunities in the classroom.

From March to September 2016, Laboratório de Educação instructors conducted ongoing professional development sessions with educators in Franco da Rocha municipal schools that had participated in the 2015 pilot study. The sessions helped pedagogical supervisors lead bi-weekly meetings with teachers, in order to discuss early language development concepts and plan in-class activities.

Laboratório de Educação researchers monitored a sample of those meetings, and an evaluation distributed at the end of the training revealed largely positive feedback: over 80% of the pedagogical supervisors felt the professional development content was relevant to their work, and that it was compatible with municipal early childhood education guidelines. The monitoring also revealed significant achievements: coordinators improved their time management and understanding of meeting agendas, enhanced their ability to mediate teacher access to new pedagogical content, and relate classroom activities to teaching and learning principles. The monitoring data also indicated that, over time, teachers came to appropriate and apply more of the language development content. Coordinators also observed progress in the classroom: some teachers became more attentive to how their students use language, while others read books aloud more often.

In addition to the professional development sessions, we finalized and produced instructional materials, including three manuals for pedagogical supervisors and teachers working with children ages 0-18 months, 3-4 years, and 4-5 years. This process was aided by the pre-existing partnership with a public nursery school, as well as by a new connection with a municipal early childhood education center, where we carried out and recorded activities with infants.

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