Conceptualizing a graduate certificate program in Teaching Bilingual English Learners with Disabilities

Graduate programs today are starting to look very different.  In fact, there is a growing effort on encouraging teachers to seek the professional development that they need, to build professional networks by social media, and to still complete traditional master of education programs.  What is real is that as professionals we need to continue to learn about the latest research, evidence-based practices and other instructional approaches that help us address the changing demographics in our schools and classrooms.   We need to engage in an ongoing cycle of teaching and learning.

Last week my colleagues and I presented at the National Bilingual Education Association conference in Orlando, FL.  The title of our presentation was the Conceptualization of a Graduate Certificate on Teaching Bilingual English Learners with Disabilities.  My colleagues Diana Morales, district leader and lecturer, Joni Magee, former district administrators, teacher, and state leader, and myself presented the program we have developed at Lasell College.

We investigated the most effective professional development practices within the teacher preparation programs and created four courses fully online that address bilingual special education.  The program includes content-focus, active learning, coherence and duration on the topic, active participation, and application based on need at school sites. Our program is focused on building the background knowledge for educators working with Bilingual English Learners and giving them the tools for them to advocate for better practices like collaboration, MTSS, co-teaching, progress monitoring and truly embedded culturally responsive pedagogy.  The products and outcomes are focused on change in their schools.  This means that the classroom products may be developing a new way to track data in their schools, or creating a case study using a student IEP to show how you can address language and academic goals.

The presentation was our way to give back to the community of education professionals who are asking for more strategies to address the needs of bilingual students with and without disabilities.  Let me know if you would like to see more information on our session.


Claudia Rinaldi View All →

Professor Claudia Rinaldi is the Chair of the Education Program at Lasell University. Her areas of research are the implementation of the Multi-Tier System of Supports (MTSS) framework in urban settings with English learners, teacher education in bilingual special education, and diversifying the teacher pipeline. Claudia has authored peer-reviewed publications and a book for educators called Practical Ways to Engage All Struggling Readers. She lead and developed a graduate certificate program in Teaching Bilingual Students with Disabilities for general, ESL and special education teachers geared towards applying research-informed practices to the questions and processes of identifying whether it is a language difference or a learning disability. Claudia developed a college mentoring program called Pathways to Teacher Diversity for districts and teacher education programs to partner in identifying and supporting underrepresented high school students interested in teaching careers to successfully access and persist in college. She serves in various boards including the National Center for Learning Disabilities and serves as an expert for and the National Center for Intensive Interventions.

Professor Claudia Rinaldi believes that it is critical to prepare teacher leaders who may serve as advocates and allies and who will respond to the belief that all students can learn and succeed beyond barriers like culture, language, disability poverty, and marginalization in our country and globally.

2 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Hello,

    I am a bilingual special education teacher. I teach English Language Learners (ELL) students with mild to severe Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I would like more information on the session and if you have information regarding ELL students with ASD.

    Thank you for your support.


    • Hi Edgar, I am sorry but we don’t specifically address ASD at this time in this certificate. I am sorry. I do think the program is worthwhile if you already have ASD training as you can understand how educators (general educators, ESL, psychologist and other specialists) perceive the processes of ESL and special education for students. There is a lot of cross-collaboration and I am sure some of the students in the course would have had students with ASD.


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