Dear SEAL Partners,
I had hoped to be writing this Winter Newsletter under better circumstances. Yet here we are nearly two years since the pandemic began, and this latest COVID surge has us feeling like we’ve taken a very big step back. But, we’ve been here before, and just like before, I have faith we’ll get through this together.
What’s important to remember during times like this are the lessons we’ve learned along the way. Throughout 2021, much of SEAL’s work focused on capturing those learnings and sharing them with all of you. From the release of the SEAL Evaluation and Pandemic Recovery briefs to all our professional learning webinars and participation on various panel discussions, this year has been filled with sharing lessons big and small.
None of this would have been possible without our partner educators, who worked tirelessly over the spring and fall semesters to ensure that our returning students were safe and supported in their transition back to in-person learning. The ongoing persistence of this pandemic makes our partnerships and work together evermore critical and consequential.
In the coming year, we’ll continue to provide the high-quality professional development we’re known for as well as the research, tools and resources that educators and advocates rely on. We’re also excited to build out new work as part of our new 2021-2025 strategic plan.
Here’s a preview of what’s to come in 2022:
- New Professional Development in LAUSD. SEAL is proud to announce that we will participate in a new federal grant-funded project in partnership with Loyola Marymount University’s Center for Equity for English Learners to improve language and literacy achievement for English learners in Los Angeles Unified elementary schools and to increase the pipeline of highly qualified bilingual teachers. Learn more about the Purposeful Engagement in Academic Rigor and Language Learning (PEARLL) project that will serve 166 current teachers, district and site leaders across 25 sites in this EdSource article.
- SEAL Evaluation Case Studies. Last October, SEAL released a set of briefs on our multi-year evaluation that set out to determine whether SEAL works when replicated across multiple districts in different regions of California. The answer is yes: SEAL improved teaching practices and SEAL English Learners demonstrated stronger engagement as well as positive language development and academic outcomes. In March, we will release a series of case studies that go deep into three districts’ process of fully embracing the SEAL model and how they implemented the model in ways that continue to transform classrooms.
- Growing SEAL’s work. SEAL completed a new strategic planning process that will focus on broadening our work with California school systems and deepening our work to change the educational ecosystem. We will continue our comprehensive Full SEAL Model implementation, while also offering the field new “Designs for Change” that meet systems and educators where they are to build the foundations for deeper instructional transformation and center the assets and needs of our students. Within the broader educational ecosystem, we will more intentionally share our expertise with policymakers, system leaders, educators, and other education organizations; this will reinforce the work we’re doing in schools and contribute to the profound systems-level change needed for every Dual Language/English Learner in California to have the education they deserve.
While we’ve intentionally planned our work in the coming months, the pandemic has taught us the value of being nimble and adaptable to the real-time needs of the educators we serve, and we’ll continue to do just that. Our deepest appreciation goes out to teachers and school staff for their continued commitment to Dual Language/English Learners and families. We’ll be sure to share more updates in the coming months!
Dr. Anya Hurwitz
SEAL Contributes to Improved Teaching and Learning!
Learn how SEAL’s research-based approach can inspire engagement and ignite learning among young English Learners and Dual Language Learners
From 2015 to 2019, Loyola Marymount University’s Center for Equity for English Learners (CEEL), in partnership with the Wexford Institute, conducted a rigorous multi-year evaluation of the Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) model. CEEL and Wexford Institute studied SEAL’s implementation and outcomes in 67 schools in 12 California districts. This multi-year evaluation set out to determine whether SEAL works when replicated across multiple districts in different regions of California. The answer is yes: SEAL improved teaching practices and SEAL English Learners demonstrated stronger engagement as well as positive language development and academic outcomes.
It’s all laid out in our new Evaluation Research Brief and Pandemic Recovery Policy Brief. These shorter briefs, taken from the comprehensive 477-page evaluation, are written for educators, policymakers, and others committed to improving opportunities for ELs and Dual Language Learners (DLLs).
Inside these briefs you’ll learn more about how:
- SEAL improved teaching and learning
- SEAL students demonstrated stronger engagement and positive outcomes
- SEAL strategies and tools can support pandemic recovery
Did you catch our SEAL Evaluation brief webinar?
If you missed the SEAL webinar: Inspiring Engagement & Igniting Learning: SEAL Teaching and Learning Outcomes in 12 School Districts, the webinar recording and our PowerPoint presentation are now available online.
Guest Panelist Superintendent Maldonado-French and Assistant Superintendent Raymond Andry from Mountain View School District shared their journey with implementing SEAL, which has truly transformed their classrooms to better serve English Learner students. They opened up about the challenges and opportunities as they pivoted to virtual learning at the onset of the pandemic, and how they are working with educators to accelerate the learning of their students now that they’ve returned to in-person learning.
Our evaluation and pandemic briefs were highlighted by Leslie Villegas of New America.
Save the Date!
Educator Webinar on Resources for Supporting Prek-3rd Multilingual Children!
SEAL is a proud partner of the Multilingual Learning Toolkit developed by Early Edge California. This toolkits supports educators and administrators in meeting the needs of young Multilingual Learners (ML) from preschool – third grade. Early Edge and SEAL will host a three-part series to get our strategies and practices into the hands of early childhood educators. We’ll focus on three of the eleven structural strategies.
To be one of the first to register for this webinar, please complete this form.
March 2, 2022
Part 1: Partnering with Families to Affirm Children’s Languages, Cultures & Identities (en Español)
March 15, 2022
Part 1: Partnering with Families to Affirm Children’s Languages, Cultures & Identities (in English)
April 19, 2022
Part 2: Supporting Multilingual Learners’ Oral Language Development
May 12, 2022
Part 3: Supporting Multilingual Learners’ Home Language Development
SEAL in the Field
It was a busy Fall! Dr. Anya Hurwitz participated in a rich conversation at this year’s Birth to 12 Water Cooler conference, presented by Advancement Project California.
The 2-day conference assembled an incredible panel of progressive policymakers, organizers, and movement leaders to discuss capitalizing on this once-in-a-generation moment to address the root causes of racial and educational inequity in California through a whole-child approach.
“It’s amazing what can happen to a school culture when it shifts to a systemic focus on deeply engaged learning that is language rich.” Executive Director, Anya Hurwitz
SEAL co-facilitated a conversation with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CGLR) as part of their #LearningTuesdays webinar series. The discussion focused on the impact of COVID on DLL/ELs, the benefits of developing home languages, and the ways in which education policy leaders and educators can leverage multilingualism toward the goal of equitable recovery. To access the #LearningTuesday webinars and other CGLR resource click here.
On October 14th, SEAL presented at the San Jose State University Early Childhood Institute Speaker Series on “Centralizing Our Dual-Language Learners: The Power of the Family-School Partnership in Early Childhood Education,” facilitated by program coordinators Ana Marisol Sanchez and Cory Wechsler! This workshop examined how educators and families can partner to create early learning environments that explicitly center children’s languages and identities. The session was recorded and you can access it here.
The California Latino School Boards Association held their annual Unity Summit in November and this year’s theme was ACCELERATING LATINO/A/X STUDENT SUCCESS. SEAL was proud to join Californians Together, CABE, and Advancement Project California on a panel titled Language-Rich and Joyful Learning: Supporting Pandemic Recovery for ELs and DLLs, moderated by San Bernardino School Board Member and lifelong English Learner advocate, Dr. Barbara Flores. The discussion was centered on the promising practices districts can implement that establish and foster relationships, address traumas and other social and emotional needs, and make teaching and learning relevant, affirming, fun, and engaging for students. Watch the panel recording here.
SEAL Partner Spotlight!
SEAL Partner, Jenny Le, from Azusa Unified School District spoke at the U.S. Department of Education webinar in September on the meaningful impact of SEAL’s work, among other important topics! We are proud to spotlight her testimony and applaud the work AUSD educators and school administrators continue to do.
- Learn more in this EdSource article about the Purposeful Engagement in Academic Rigor and Language Learning (PEARLL) project – a partnership with Loyola Marymount University’s Center for Equity for English Learners and Los Angeles Unified School District – that will serve 166 current teachers, district and site leaders across 25 sites.
- Starting in Fall 2022 and over the next four years, California will expand transitional kindergarten to more preschoolers. This EdSource article shares the six strategies advocates recommend for schools to best serve 4-year-olds who are developing language skills in English and their home language. SEAL Executive Director, Anya Hurwitz, is quoted.
- Report Shows Promising Outcomes for English Learners in Schools Using the SEAL Instructional Model in California by Leslie Villegas of the New America Foundation highlights our evaluation and pandemic briefs.
- Read this article by our own Dr. Anya Hurwitz in Language Magazine about our Early Childhood Education Workforce Policy Grant brief (released October 2021).
- New America recently highlighted the brand new Multilingual Learner Toolkit for educators (created by @EarlyEdgeCA) with key strategies for supporting #DualLanguageLearners, which included MANY resources from SEAL!
Welcome to SEAL!
Dr. Camille R. Whitney, Research and Evaluation Manager
Dr. Camille R. Whitney joins SEAL as a Research and Evaluation Manager with over ten years of experience in education research and a focus on improving outcomes for underserved populations and ELs in particular. Dr. Whitney works with the Director of Research & Evaluation to manage SEAL’s research and evaluation activities. This includes supporting and co-leading investigations of the efficacy of the SEAL model, as well as high quality EL instruction in general. Dr. Whitney began her career in education as a high school mathematics teacher. She later served as an education research analyst at Child Trends and Head of Research at Mindful Schools. Before joining SEAL in 2021, she worked in various roles at the San Francisco Zen Center including supporting their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. She received her Ph.D. in Education Policy and the Economics of Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2016.
Sarah Valencia, Trustee, SEAL Board of Directors
SEAL welcomes Sarah Valencia as its newest member of the Board of Directors. A dedicated business leader and financial executive, Sarah Valencia has cultivated an extensive background in finance management, accounting, tax preparation, and operations oversight throughout her 15+ year career with Silicon Valley Community Foundation, including serving as Senior Vice President of Finance from 2014 to present. Ms. Valencia currently serves as a contributing member of the management team for one of the largest community foundations in the nation, with over $10B in total assets and $1.4B in awarded grants. She formulates successful operational strategies, leads a top-tier finance team, and is the catalyst of innovative systems and processes to support growth and deliver a sustainable infrastructure. Committed to education, Ms. Valencia also serves on the boards of The Foundation for Hispanic Education and Latino Education Advancement Foundation. Sarah Valencia earned her BS in commerce from Santa Clara University with a major in finance and a minor in Spanish and is a certified public accountant (CPA).