Teaching Learners of English as an Additional Language: Re-Conceptualizing Mainstream Teacher Preparedness in the Growing Linguistic Mosaic of Ontario
As the population of Learners of English as an Additional Language (LEALs) has increased steadily in mainstream classrooms over the last decade, mainstream classroom teachers are challenged with teaching situations for which they are not adequately prepared. Using a Complexity Theory and Mindfulness Mindset lens, this study examined self-perceived preparedness of 15 recently graduated teachers over the course of a 10-workshop series titled Teaching LEALs in Mainstream Classrooms. The following research questions guided the study: (a) How do teachers’ perceptions of their preparedness to teach LEALs change during the workshop series? (b) How did the workshops contribute to changes in teachers’ perceptions? Through datasets created from observational field notes, questionnaires, and semi-structured interview, workshop, and session documentation, this semester-long qualitative case study presents mainstream teachers’ experiences and perceptions. Rather than providing a detailed and prescribed curriculum for change, attention is on the overall direction of teacher preparedness and fostering conditions for change and learning. Study findings capture the intricacies of mainstream teacher preparedness and indicate that change depends on adequate professional development that maximizes teachers’ LEAL-related knowledge. However, in addition to knowledge, self-perceived levels of preparedness were influenced by the discomfort of disequilibrium, feedback, and embracing uncertainty. There are important implications for teacher education practice and professional certification. Ultimately, mainstream teacher training for LEALs cannot be optional. All teachers require targeted and intentional training to effectively address barriers to LEAL teaching and learning.