Building Early Learning Latiné Educators (BELLE)
What is BELLE?
Building Early Learning Latiné Educators (BELLE) is a leadership academy aimed at improving representation of Latiné leaders in decision making spaces. Specifically, the goals of BELLE include the following:
- To develop a pipeline of Latiné ECE leaders through a culturally and linguistically affirming professional development model to increase representation of Latinés in decision-making positions.
- To increase the recruitment and retention of Latiné educators.
- To improve the quality of supports for bilingual acquisition in early childhood education settings for emergent bilinguals.
BELLE Theory of Change
BELLE seeks to create a special kind of community of practice – a Community of Cultural Wealth – with mentorship for Latiné educators inherent in the model by including teacher/leader dyads. The model is based on self-reflection and draws on participants’ assets. This participant base allows for natural opportunities for each cohort to include a variety of educators from different locations and program types to foster mentorship and to increase awareness of opportunities and resources outside of each dyad’s own current district or program. This portion of the model embodies what Yasso (2005) refers to as cultural wealth and which outlines the various forms of social capital brought forth by communities of color. Once engaged, the model adds to the knowledge base using the Self-Evaluation of Supports for Emergent Bilingual Acquisition (SESEBA) system as a framework for learning about supportive practices for DLLs in the classroom. Research indicates that leaders, even when a cultural and linguistic match to the children being served, need background knowledge that can support and implement DLL strategies at both the program policy and classroom levels. Through the support of the cohort model, with embedded mentors and implementation of the DLL strategies, BELLE participants will possess the knowledge and confidence to pursue leadership positions.
How Does BELLE Work?
BELLE requires that a current leader (Center Director, Principal, Instructional Coach, ECE Supervisor or other leader) nominates a bilingual educator in their program who identifies as Latiné to engage in a year-long partnership to implement DLL strategies (including Spanish language instruction). The leader and selected teacher participate in a series of virtual and in-person workshops. These workshops provide opportunities to not only receive information on best practices for supporting DLLs in their classrooms but to make plans for implementation in their settings. Because they attend together, the leaders are better equipped to partner with their teachers on that implementation. They develop shared expertise which is central to the reflective coaching approach that undergirds BELLE.
What Do You Learn in BELLE?
The content of BELLE focuses on two main topics. The first is research-based teaching practices that support bilingual acquisition. To do this, we train the dyads to understand and implement the Self-Evaluation of Supports for Emergent Bilingual Acquisition (SESEBA), which is a self-reflective system developed at NIEER to support teachers and coaches in their work with DLLs. The second area addresses effective leadership and advocacy for DLL supports in classrooms and programs with a Latiné lens.
What Does Participation in BELLE Require?
- Attendance in 4 virtual (1.5 hour) sessions and 4 (all day; 9-3 PM) in-person sessions by each accepted dyad
- Agreement to accommodate two classroom observations by BELLE staff (once in fall and once in spring)
- Ongoing self-reflection and coaching through use of the SESEBA tool
What are the Benefits of Participation in BELLE?
- $1500 stipend for all participants
- Certificate of PD for all hours engaged in participation
- Learn to implement effective practices for DLL teaching and coaching
- Explore effective leadership qualities and characteristics with an emphasis on supporting bilingual acquisition
- Network with other leaders and emerging leaders and take steps to move forward on your leadership pathway
- Contribute to the development of a viable bilingual leadership pipeline to improve policies, teaching and learning for young DLLs
What do Previous BELLE Participants Say About the Program?
– I saw this as a good opportunity to learn something new, work with an organization like NIEER. I really like the Latina perspective/angle of it. That part of who I am has always been something personal, but not so much part of my work life.
– It’s given me the data that I need to fight for my classroom. The data is telling us that the students need this.
– I also learned that it is important to have original specific items to have from children’s homes. I also learned the different questioning techniques. I like how we got the tool to build up the questions. It’s important to hear, though some things are common sense, you never think of it in the right moment.
– There’s so little programs that is just for us. It [BELLE] empowers us more with providing more knowledge.
BELLE Achievements to Date
- Significant increase in classroom quality for dual language learners, as measured by our SESEBA-linked tool
- Enrollment in MA programs
- Enrollment in certification programs
- Acceptance to new positions in the field including: center director and ECE Instructional Coach positions
- Presentation at local and state level conferences