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Meet Our Faculty: Kayti Pfaffle

• 1/26/21

I have 18 years of experience in education, including teaching all levels of Spanish, Spanish for Heritage Speakers, and English as a Second Language (ESL). I have a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a Master’s degree in Education and ESL. I am the head English Language Learners (ELL) teacher for grades 9-12, the district coordinator for English Language Proficiency Assessment (ELPA) testing, and the district director for the Seal of Biliteracy. I serve as an adjunct instructor for Midland University, where I teach the Linguistics and Methods courses for the ESL Endorsement program. 

Why Midland University?

Midland University has an outstanding faith-based education program and I wanted to be part of it. I also identified with Midland’s mission statement of, “preparing educators who demonstrate the knowledge, skills and dispositions needed to plan instruction, build learning communities, model professionalism, and support all learners.” The fulfillment of this mission statement has been 100% evident both in my experience teaching courses as well as working with Midland staff in the Education and Technology departments. Finally, I love that these courses are offered online to allow busy professionals flexibility and convenience when engaging in the course content.

What Courses Do You Teach? 

At Midland University, I teach two courses in the ESL Endorsement program: ‘Linguistics’ and ‘Methods, Assessment, and Evaluation of EL learners’.

Linguistics

In this course, students learn about language acquisition and how to help our ELLs (English Language Learners) develop language literacy and achieve in the following content areas:

  • Theories of language acquisition 
  • States of language acquisition
  • Myths surrounding language acquisition

Students taking this course then link language theory into practice. They learn about how to use the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) model to strengthen academic language and literacy development in all students. Students leave this course not only with a broad understanding of linguistics, but also a repertoire of practical activities, techniques, and strategies to use with their ESL students.

Methods, Assessment, and Evaluation of ELL Learners

As the number of English learners soars, a knowledge of effective instructional and assessment design is essential. In this course, students learn a variety of models, techniques, and strategies that are effective with English Language Learner (ELL) students. They will engage in content that includes strategies for preparation, instruction, review, and assessment in classrooms with s ELL students. Students will also learn about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as it relates to ELLs, the Nebraska English Language Program (ELP) standards, and the ELPA21 language proficiency assessment. 

Projects, Learning, and Coursework 

Discussion Boards

Students participate in weekly discussion boards in which they process the chapter information and share the take-aways and personal applications with their classmates. There is a significant amount of collaboration and reflection in these discussion board activities. 

Below is one example of a discussion board prompt: 

“You read about how effective teachers often adjust instruction according to learner responses. Teachers may not always be aware that students are not understanding instruction. The 10-2 and group response techniques described in Practice 4A are helpful for giving teachers information about learner comprehension. Which ones appear to be most useful for your classroom situation? Share two other techniques for checking comprehension that you have used and/or researched?”

Applied Learning

In these courses, students also personalize and apply what they have learned to their current/future classrooms through case studies, classroom scenarios, and lesson-writing activities. 

Below is an example of a personalized application assignment: 

“Practice 3C encourages teachers to elicit language output from students. Often, language learning students may be embarrassed to speak in front of others. Look at the strategies and suggestions for increasing language output. List 3 of the strategies that you would like to use and explain in detail (lesson-specific) how you will implement each.” 

Interaction with Statewide Assessments

Finally, students have the opportunity to interact with the statewide assessments that their ELL students will take, learn how new ESSA laws directly impact EL learners, and work with the Nebraska ELP standards that will be used in their future teaching employment. 

Below is an example of an assignment where students are asked to do this: 

“Click this link and complete the practice exam: ELPA21 Practice Test. This is a way to familiarize yourself with the test that your students will be taking annually. After completing the practice test for each domain, write your thoughts about each section, and then an overall reflection on the exam.”

Benefits of this Course

With a large number of ELL students in our schools increasing, Midland has created this program to help incoming Midland students be prepared to meet the unique social and academic needs of these diverse learners. As students take these courses, they learn to design effective, engaging lessons and implement research-based strategies in their classrooms. They are able to ensure that the curricula and courses for their English learners are rigorous, relevant, and designed and delivered with second acquisition in mind. 

Why Pursue an ESL Teaching Endorsement?

I truly believe that ESL is the BEST teaching endorsement that teachers can have as part of their professional studies/career. If incoming students desire to become ESL teachers, their positions are guaranteed to be in high demand, as there is a nationwide shortage of teachers who are ESL-endorsed and also an ever-increasing number of ELL students in both cities and rural school districts. If incoming students desire to work in K-12 content area classrooms, it is important for them to remember that they WILL work with ELL learners at some point, and they need to be prepared and confident to meet the unique needs of those ELL students in their classrooms. Finally, an ESL endorsement will equip teachers with the most effective research-based tools and strategies to implement with ALL learners, not just ELL learners. Many of the language-learning and content strategies taught in these courses will increase the academic achievement and language competency of every student in a classroom. For these reasons, an ESL endorsement is invaluable for every person working in education.

Kayti Pfaffle serves as the district coordinator for ELPA testing, and the district director for the Seal of Biliteracy. She also serves as an adjunct instructor for Midland University's ESL endorsement program. Kayti has 18 years of experience in education, including teaching all levels of Spanish, Spanish for Heritage Speakers, and English as a Second Language.


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