Ph.D. in Education, 2012
School of Education
April 1, 2009
Ph.D. Student Works with Center For Educational Partnerships as K-2 Professional Development Provider and Researcher
Today’s elementary teachers are not just teachers of content – they are teachers of language. In a diverse country such as this, teachers are challenged with the additional task of teaching English through the content areas. Many teachers are well equipped with strategies to ensure successful teaching to second language learners; many others are not. Researching professional development programs where in-service teachers are trained to teach language through content is the focus of Lauren M. Shea’s work.
Lauren is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Education in the Language, Literacy, and Technology specialization. She was born and raised about 30 miles north of New York City, where she began a lifelong journey of experiencing and learning about second language acquisition.
Lauren completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Bilingual Education at Boston University’s School of Education and obtained certification in elementary, bilingual, and E.S.L. education in 2000. For the next eight years, she taught in Framingham, Massachusetts’ innovative Two-Way Immersion program where Native English Speaking Students and Native Spanish Speaking students are instructed in English and Spanish to become bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural.
The Two-Way program grew immensely during Lauren’s time at the school, and several studies lauded the program’s success (see Realizing the Vision of Two-Way Immersion: Fostering Effective Programs and Classrooms and articles by Professor Ester de Jong).
In a two-year-long project, Lauren and her colleagues researched best practices and the latest findings in the field of dual language instruction. Based on the current research in the field, the Two-Way program’s staff decided to modify the immersion model in the elementary grades. The research, decisions, planning, and implementation phases were discussed in presentations by Lauren and her colleagues at annual conferences at the Massachusetts Association of Bilingual Education and the Center for the Advanced Research on Language Acquisition.
These presentations, along with the completion of a Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, prompted Lauren to propose and design the position of curriculum coordinator for her district. The position was aimed at helping the Two-Way community adapt to the new model while researching its benefits for students. Once funding was obtained, she further defined the role of curriculum coordinator, which continues today. In this capacity, Lauren visited other programs across the country, conducted several teacher training programs in second language acquisition, organized and ran parent workshops, and carried out a small ethnographic study about language status in a Two-Way kindergarten classroom.
At UC Irvine, Lauren continues her interest in language learning, teacher professional development in language learning, and technology use in both of these areas. She is a professional development provider and researcher for the Center for Educational Partnerships, where she works with K-2 teachers in a local urban district on integrating language and content learning strategies. Her first-year project will look at how second grade teachers implement language learning strategies through math and science content while participating in the teacher professional development program. Future projects will integrate online technologies to enhance professional development.
In the future, Lauren aspires to add to the knowledge in the field of language learning and language teaching implementation through research and practice in the elementary setting.