ACS Holds Child Care and Head Start Dual Language Teachers Team Conference
Child Care and Head Start teachers and Education Directors received instructions on the best ways to support language development in children who are dual language learners at a Team Conference held on Friday, July 15th 2011 at the Children’s Center. The conference was organized by the Child Care Head Start Division of the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) with support from the New York State Training and Technical Assistance Center, a member of the Office of Head Start Training & Technical Assistance System.
Presenters at the dual ACS dual language conference: Front row, left to right, Miranda Harrison; Anne Dudley Marling, NCCLR; Dr. Victoria Rodriguez; Karen Nemeth. Back row, left to right, Michael Homan, ACS Legal Intern; Dr. Maria Cordero, ACS Research Specialist; John Borrero, Adjunct Professor NYU and Jose Paz, NCCLR.
The aim of the conference was to support key messages that teachers and Education Directors need to provide rich, engaging, developmentally appropriate child centered language experiences for all children; support the home language of every child, every day and develop successful multilingual programs to meet the needs of linguistically and culturally diverse families.
Keynote speaker to the conference, Karen N. Nemeth, educator and author of Many Languages, One Classroom stressed the importance of supporting a child’s home language in the classroom. “Supporting the home language builds prior learning, strengthens family bonds and builds self esteem. We want all children to grow up understanding that being different doesn’t make you less,” she said.
Opening remarks were delivered by Maria Benejan, Associate Commissioner, Child Care and Head Start (CCHS) and participants were welcomed to the conference by Miranda Harrison, Assistant Director, CCHS Program Development & Support Services. A total of 235 attendees participated in workshops focused on instructional strategies teachers need to foster the language development of dual language learners and on the essential supportive role that the Education Director plays in this process.
The workshops were led by experts in family literacy and dual language instruction including John Borrero, a former consultant for the National Center for Family Literacy; Luisa Costa Garro, Professor of Education at Bank Street College, and Victoria Rodriguez, Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at Lehman College, as well as presenters from the National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness (NCCLR). The center is one of four national training and technical assistance centers supported by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Head Start to provide research-based strategies for working with children who speak languages other than English in classrooms and other learning environments.
Resulting from discussions and activities in the workshops, short- and long-term plans for maintaining and improving the day-to-day practices that ensure all children develop to their fullest potential were developed by staff from each program. The conference also marked the kick-off to a Teacher Series aimed at supporting dual language learners which ACS plans to hold this fall. This series will take place over several months and will involve on-site coaching.