VS 4.1: North Star to Philadelphia


Think About

Conceptual Outline Meaning Making


Effective instruction for language minority students must be guided by theoretical and moral principles. 

Theoretical and moral principles?

Gary Fenstermacher (University of Michigan)

“The importance of beliefs for both teachers and students, I think, can be found in Tolstoy’s wonderful question, ‘How shall I live?’ Underneath that question though is this basic notion that we are intentional beings: We act with purposes and ideals and points of view…. We require more than any other profession, the freedom and opportunity to ground ourselves by getting in touch with our own beliefs, examining them, and then being given permission to action what we think is the best approach.”

How shall I live? Intentionality?

Equality vs. Equity?

Equality treats everyone the same regardless of differences.

Equity Acknowledges cultural, linguistic, economic, or religious differences and makes appropriate accommodation, treating people fairly, not always exactly the same.

Individualizing treatment, however, does not mean a teacher prepares 30 different lesson plans, we must also consider what is fair to us as teachers of such diversity.

What is fair?

Gary Fenstermacher 

“What is fair? “What happens to teachers is they get confused about the difference between an ideal and a goal…. To me the difference between an ideal and a goal is the difference between the North Star and Philadelphia. The North Star is the way we orient ourselves in order to get to Philadelphia. It tells us we are going in the right direction, that we’re making progress, that we’re headed toward our destination.

“I think of Philadelphia as a kind of goal, and the North Star as the ideal…. The thing goes wrong when we think that the North Star. Is where we’re headed and somehow we have to travel there…. You should be going to Philadelphia…. So ideals serve as orienting activities, concepts for us. And goals are our outcomes.”


The Ideal?





 The goal? My ideals?

Guiding Principles

   1. Multiple perspectives

   2. High Expectations

   3. Knowledge-Based Practice

   4. Accountability

Whose Perspectives?

1. Multiple Perspectives  

Goal Question

How does recognizing multiple perspectives inform my teaching and learning?

Considering multiple perspectives means recognizing that who you are impacts how you view the world. It encompasses issues of ethnicity, culture, and past experiences. The challenge is to prepare teachers and learners who acknowledge, value, and respect diverse perspectives in our democratic society.


Anne Katz (ARC Associates)

“Most teachers in our schools are white; many of them, if not the majority, are      female. And many are middle class…. Many of our students now are becoming more diverse and are coming from backgrounds which don’t match those of the teachers in our schools”

My background?

Thomas Ricento (University of Texas, San Antonio)

“We have multiple identities and multiple memberships. We have culture. It’s not the absence of something, but the presence of something. So when we act, it’s through our experiences, our cultures, and our views. And that’s  fine, but we have to understand that people, even of our same culture, let alone of different cultures, may have very different approaches to understanding their world and the way in which they express that… Just because we are from a particular culture does not mean we are the spokesperson for that culture.”

My multiple identities?

Ann Snow (California State University, Los Angeles)

“I think it helps if you’ve had an experience with another language or another culture because you realize that people think in different ways, people act in different ways.”

Different ways of thinking?

Jim Cummins (University of Toronto, OISE)

“When we have a mini-United Nations in the classroom…. The process of identity negotiation is fraught with misconceptions, misunderstandings, low expectations that communicate to students a very negative image of their own identity…. That is communicating a sense of lower status by omission, rather than anything that the teacher may be doing.”

Lower status by omission?

  1. High Expectations

Goal Question


How can I develop and maintain high expectations for all students?


High expectations begin with accepting students where they are with their current abilities. However, implicit in establishing and maintaining high expectations are the belief that all students can grow and a commitment to nourishing students’ growth.  

Begin where students are?

Fred Genesee (McGill University, Canada)

“One of the biggest mistakes we make in working with students is that we underestimate what they can do.”

Underestimate potential?

Ann Katz (ARC Associate)

   “I think that students have a clear sense of how teachers respond to them and what teachers expect of them. When teachers don’t expect very much of students, the students will not produce.” 

 "Of course you need to make accurate and appropriate assessments of your students. At the same time, you must not lose sight of what a student can become. Maintaining high expectations means you believe a student can grow, learn, and change."

Self-fulfilling prophecy?




 Grow, learn, change?

  1. Knowledge-Based Practice

Goal Question

How does current knowledge about language minority students inform my instructional decisions?

Instructional decisions and classroom practice should be based on and informed by the best current experimental, empirical, and theoretical knowledge available


The knowledge base for educating language minority students is relatively new and still emerging. It pivots on issues of language as well as content.

Best practices?

Best theoretical base?

Garcia (based on Zeichner) lists 12 elements of the knowledge base:

  1. A teacher’s sense of personal identity
  2. High expectations
  3. Commitment to equity
  4. Rejection of students as “the other”
  5. Challenging curriculum
  6. Interactive, collaborative, and meaningful instruction
  7. Meaningful tasks
  8. Multiple perspectives and voices
  9. Links between school and home
  10. Instruction in how the school system works
  11. Family and community involvement
  12. Political activism

Of course all of these elements must be framed by attention to second language acquisition.

Framed by language acquisition?


Fred Genesee (McGill University, Canada)

“Working with these kids goes beyond good intentions; it involves knowing something about language acquisition and about the relationship between language, cultural development, social development, personal development. And it also means knowing how to use language to further the student’s development. And in particular, it means knowing how to use language to further the students’ academic achievement. And while most teachers are qualified to do that for English-speaking student, they’re not having to work with those students through the medium of the students’ second language. And that involves a whole other set of insights and skills, which they may not have.”

Beyond good intentions?

4. Accountability

My accountability?

Goal Question

How can accountability be instilled and promoted in my students and me through our educational lives?


Meeting the academic needs of language minority students is the responsibility of all stakeholders in the educational process.


Ann Katz (ARC Associate)

“It can no longer be fully the responsibility of the bilingual teacher or the ESL teacher to take care of those students. Rather, those students are all of our students.”

My collaborators?

Fred Genesee (McGill University, Canada)

 “All teachers in a school need to be responsible for the education of the language minority students…. One of the very obvious reasons is that these students spend far more time with regular teachers than they do with their ESL teachers.”


ESL students reach their potential when all the stakeholders in the educational process are committed to providing first-rate service and quality instruction.


Like the North Star, these ideals should guide our efforts to educate language minority students in ways that reflect our moral and ethical commitments to teaching. We should recognize multiple perspectives, maintain high expectations, pursue knowledge-based practice, and promote accountability.


Reflection for Change


How can I apply these guiding principles to my teaching and curriculum?



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