Learning a second language has been shown to have many benefits, but in the
state of Arizona the teaching and learning of second languages has been restricted since the passing of Proposition 203. In the past few years, schools offering Dual Language Immersion programs have emerged, but their teachers do not have much experience, training or resources to teach language through content. Language immersion self- efficacy has been shown to be crucial for the teachers to be more effective in their instruction and for them to embrace the challenges they face.
The purpose of this action research study was to increase Spanish immersion teachers' self-efficacy through a community of practice, in which teachers performed peer observations and offered feedback, collaboratively drew from a pool of resources that were available online for all to use, and supported each other in the areas they felt could be improved.
Quantitative data included pre- and post- intervention self-efficacy surveys, as well as a retrospective survey. Qualitative data included audio recordings and field notes from the community of practice sessions, teacher observations, peer observations, and feedback meetings, as well as interviews.
Results from the analysis of data showed an increase of teachers’ self-efficacy because of the close collaboration and resource sharing that took place during the implementation of the community of practice. Teachers also reported positive changes in practice due to peer observations and collegial conversations during meetings, where teachers could acknowledge their own successes and use ideas from others to improve their practice. Finally, despite all the positive outcomes from this action research study, it was evident there were some systemic issues the community of practice could not change, such as the lack of resources and appropriate curriculum for Spanish immersion teachers.
Many parents and educators have agreed our students should have the opportunity of becoming bilingual to face global competition more effectively. Because of that, Spanish immersion schools have been growing in popularity in Arizona. Moreover, it has become clear that as we have more schools and teachers willing to adopt these programs, more resources must be made available to support immersion teachers and their instruction.