The New Face of CLAD Through CTEL: Teachers Returning to California’s Classrooms
By: Jeff Nazzaro
In her ten years as an instructor in UCR University Extension’s CLAD Through CTEL Program, Program Coordinator Elaine Giron has witnessed a slow but steady shift in the types of teachers enrolling to complete their mandatory English Learner (EL) Authorizations. Until a few years ago, she said, it was mostly working K–12 educators who earned their teaching credentials prior to the EL mandate from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) in 2008. But as their numbers have thinned through compliance, retirement, or relocation, and once scarce California teaching jobs have rebounded, a new, diverse group needing EL Authorization has emerged.
“Now it’s almost exclusively out-of-state teachers or teachers coming from out of the country,” said Elaine. “We’ve had several who moved overseas with their families and taught. We have some teachers from other countries who are also getting their credential. And then we have a few who taught for a few years, raised their families, and are now coming back to teaching.”
“As California teaching jobs have rebounded, a new, diverse group needing EL Authorization has emerged.”
One of those is Julia Canaga, who is two courses into UCR University Extension’s six-course, 18-unit CLAD Through CTEL Program. She earned her teaching certificate in Washington state in 2007 and briefly worked as a substitute before living in Germany and Greece for a combined 10 years. Now in San Bernardino, she wants to get back into the classroom. To do so, she’ll need her EL Authorization. She is relishing the learning experience.
“I did not take classes in my teaching program that focused on teaching ELL students, which educationally hindered me,” Julia said. “There is so much to learn from other cultures. My time living overseas opened my eyes to views and personal biases of which I wasn’t even fully aware. I feel that every educator should, even for a few weeks, be put in a classroom where the instructor speaks a language the student does not understand.”
The EL Authorization is to ensure that every K–12 California teacher, from English language specialists to PE teachers, has the theoretical knowledge and cultural sensitivity to not only help students whose first language isn’t English to improve in English but also to learn more effectively across the curriculum.
“I feel that every educator should, even for a few weeks, be put in a classroom where the instructor speaks a language the student does not understand.”
“California’s focus now is more on valuing bilingual education,” Elaine said. “Instead of focusing on having them only learn English, they’re saying, ‘What are the assets of each student, we’re assets based, let’s let them keep their first language,’ and that’s why there are so many dual immersion programs in the state. I think they’re looking for teachers with more diversity.”
Teachers the CTC deems in need of adding the authorization may opt to take a series of three examinations. They are also referred to CLAD Through CTEL programs, like that at UCR University Extension, which take the place of the tests.
“California’s focus now is more on valuing bilingual education…”
“We’re here to help teachers transition into the newest and most updated standards,” said UCR University Extension Credential Analyst Brayham Hernandez, who meets with prospective students, and, if they are a good fit, helps them enroll in the mandatory orientation class, followed by the remaining five courses. Students may also customize a shorter program that replaces one or two, rather than all three, of the required exams. When students complete the program, Brayham recommends them to the CTC for the EL Authorization, something he’s done hundreds of times over the last couple of years.
Assistant Director of Education Programs Abril Chavando said that while a majority of enrollees are newer, out-of-state teachers who are very enthusiastic participants, veteran educators new to the state tend to be a little less gung-ho but end up loving the program. Then there are the veteran California teachers who earned their credentials prior to 2008 and haven’t yet updated them with EL Authorizations.
“That’s where we see the most profound changes,” said Abril. “That’s when we hear from the professors, ‘Oh, it seemed difficult for them in the beginning, but after they finished the program, they came back and told us how it changed them and how much they loved it; they’re learning new things, they’re excited to be back in the classroom, it has reignited their sense of teaching.’”
One experienced California educator who has been enthusiastic from the beginning is Gitta Dixon-Williams. The 31-year veteran is currently working her way through the CLAD Through CTEL program while serving as a high school homeschool teacher for an independent study charter school. It represents a change for her, but one in which she can apply the knowledge absorbed in courses like Culture and Inclusion.
“…they’re learning new things, they’re excited to be back in the classroom, it has reignited their sense of teaching.”
“My parents raised us to embrace our own diversity and have respect for people of all nationalities,” Gitta said. “We were taught that we all have something to contribute to this world and we can really make the world a better place together. Culture and Inclusion can be incorporated into various aspects of a charter organization. It will require me to think outside the box, but that is what I do best.”