The role of teachers in student educational processes is great and crucial indeed: people of this profession encourage, promote, and explain the significance of education to students, help everyone to realize the place of education in this world, and learn new material that is significant for this life and students’ future professions. If there is some kind of change happens to teachers’ beliefs and practices, English language learners also feel certain changes and differences within their education. Because of that, it turns out to be crucial to pay much attention to teacher changes in their practices and beliefs in the sphere of science and to be able to comprehend all literacy instructions directed to English language learners. Okhee Lee (2004) suggests establishing certain instructional congruence and aim it at interceding students’ attitude to academic disciplines and their cultural experience. “English language learners face the dual challenges of mastering English and acquiring the academic skills and knowledge deemed essential for a sound education and a productive future life” (Genesee, 2006, p.3). The diversity of students and their cultural backgrounds increases the role of teachers and properly chosen approaches to explain new material. Taking into consideration these points, the investigation by Lee becomes more effective as this author uses a broader definition of ELL and concentrates on teachers’ changes in their beliefs and practices.
According to Leigh A. Hall (2005), students may fail reading and writing processes because of a lack of skills and abilities, this is why teachers have to encourage them and demonstrate how congruence of academic knowledge and their personal experience may positively influence their further studying processes. The investigations of Lee are grounded on the work and cooperation of students with diverse cultural backgrounds and teachers, who try to consider changes of beliefs and promote students’ achievements in science. Teachers’ changes of beliefs will certainly affect classroom activities, behavior, and learning processes (Guskey, 2002), and the ideas of the instructional congruence is that important concept that unites the beliefs and students’ abilities and cultural preferences to secure proper education. Lee pays enough attention to the instructional congruence framework and believes that the establishment of this congruence requires many things from both teachers and students; however, the role of teachers as the leaders of the activities becomes more considerable. First of all, teachers have to integrate their awareness from several perspectives: the essence of science disciplines, students’ cultural practice, and the level of English literacy. Second, teachers should be able to connect the necessity of science to the cultural background of students and promote the English language for all ELLs as well.
Students in their tern are obliged to introduce their cultural background and demonstrate their true level of knowledge in the sphere of science. It is possible to rely on students’ home language in order to find out some understanding between teachers and students and realize the essence of educative processes. To clear up students’ readiness to study science, teachers may ask them to complete some written pieces of work using nothing by scientific language (Brown, Ryoo, & Rodriguez, 2009). Students may find such assignments a bit difficult, however, such work should certainly introduce them to the grounds of scientific education and underline the level of complexity. And even though Johnson (2005) tells about cultural diversity and the influence of this diversity on the American population, the idea of instructional congruence aims to cope with possible challenges and help students develop their skills, and encourage their awareness.
The idea of teacher change in beliefs and practice becomes a burning one within a short period. Awareness about multicultural education and the challenges, both teachers and students face making some teachers change their beliefs and attitudes to their style and manners of education. Lee (2004) admits that “school knowledge represents the culture of power of dominant society” and defines teacher change as a three-stage process, where each of the stages becomes significant and integral. At the first stage, teachers undergo considerable changes in their beliefs about student abilities to study the necessary material and about the essence of academic content, the role of language in scientific education, and the modification of teaching practices. At the second stage, the changes touch upon numerous reflective and generative processes because teachers become ongoing learners and participate in student lives for some time. Instructional processes and students’ perception of the discipline have to be comprehended by teachers in order to achieve that important connection and the ability to teach students. The final stage of teacher changed that has been defined by Lee is the necessity of teachers’ abilities to deal with students, to understand their problems, and to use creative approaches instead of constant routine. This approach should help to involve students in work and educative processes and not to make them some kind of slaves of science but the equal partners, who are going to participate and make noticeable contributions to science.
Teacher change may be closely connected to the wide spreading of computing technologies throughout all educational institutions (Ertmer, 2005). Teachers have to stress the importance of scientific education and at the same time to be able to accept and comprehend the changes of the world around them. Teacher changes may also occur in case the educators admit the success of their students and students’ abilities to perceive all information on the necessary level. Lee’s investigations prove that teachers may undergo changes under many other conditions. For example, student science learning (Lee & Fradd, 2001) and the level of student literacy increases, and teachers have to change their beliefs in order to promote students enlarge their knowledge and achieve more serious steps in their education. These changes cause the varieties within classroom activities and students’ participation in the educational process.
The process of developing instructional congruence that should happen between student cultural background and science education is a real challenge for many teachers and serve as a reasons number one to pay more attention to this concept and its correct use by teachers (Settlage & Southerland, 2007). The increasing student population and the inability to control the diversity of cultures, abilities of teachers to work with EELs, and the beliefs that students’ need may be met incorrectly – all this become a considerable ground that can be hardly overcome by any educational policy, and teachers have to run the processes, evaluate the novelties, and use them to present education on a good level. Lee points out that teachers face challenges if they try to find out instructional congruence in both science and literature for students with different levels of English. This is why to establish this congruence, the change in teachers’ beliefs and practices may happen in different ways. Because of a lack of confidence about science and all those principles, which are required for teaching science, many teachers dislike science as a discipline and cause the same hostility to their students. Lee encourages teachers to enlarge their levels of knowledge to be ready to present captivating material on the necessary comprehensive level. Teachers should have enough background to comprehend their students’ native language to explain some unclear points in the right way and also connect real-life examples to science and classroom activities.
The results, which have been achieved by Lee, play a very important role in the sphere of pedagogy and the sphere of science. Teacher practice requires certain changes because of numerous changes, which happen around and cause unique approaches to their activities. Students with different languages and cultural backgrounds full fill American educational institutions and make teachers change and improve their strategies to achieve more effective results. Changes in beliefs and practices take the first place and require teachers more attention and effort. They have to encourage their levels of confidence and gain insights into learning processes. Establishing instructional congruence becomes crucial for teachers and their students because much depends on how a student comprehends the material, connects it to own cultural background, and uses it following the current environment. In general, students’ and teachers cooperation is vital for educational processes, and learning English language and literacy should not prevent studying science with its own peculiarities and insights. Education has not to be a routine for teachers and students, and teacher changes in beliefs and practices improve students’ attitudes to education and science in general.
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Genesee, F. (2006). Educating English Language Learners: A Synthesis of Research Evidence. New York: Cambridge University Press.
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Settlage, J. & Southerland, S. A. (2007). Teaching Science to Every Child: Using Culture as Starting Point. New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.