Exploring Teacher Learning in New Immigrant Destinations: Practice and Policy Implications
Megan Hopkins

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of California, San Diego

Primary Discipline

Second Language Learning/Bilingual Education
In the context of demographic change, school systems across the United States, in some of the most unexpected places, must develop policies and practices that support growing numbers of immigrant students, many of whom are in the process of learning English (often referred to as “English learners” or ELs in the policy arena). Teachers in particular are essential for providing a welcoming environment and employing instructional practices that attend to newcomers’ linguistic, academic, cultural, and socioemotional needs, yet research has shown that most are underprepared for this work, especially teachers of ELs at the elementary level. Given the importance of collaboration for facilitating teacher learning and development, as well as for supporting student achievement, this study will explore elementary school teachers’ opportunities to learn from one another about EL instruction in two new immigrant destinations, one urban and one suburban. Further, it will explore how district and school organizational contexts support teachers’ EL-related learning opportunities, and the implications for EL student achievement. Employing a sequential explanatory mixed methods design, the study will draw on school staff surveys and interviews, as well as classroom composition and student achievement data. First, social network analysis will be used to compare and contrast teachers’ informal and formal learning opportunities, and the organizational contexts in which these opportunities are situated, both within and between schools and school districts. Second, Qualitative Comparative Analysis will be employed to explore the relationships between dimensions of the organizational context, teachers’ interactions, and EL achievement. Findings from this study will inform instructional decision making in the two school districts, and it will inform broader policy conversations related to how school systems in new immigrant destinations can organize supports for teacher learning and development.
About Megan Hopkins
Megan Hopkins is an assistant professor in the Department of Education Studies at the University of California, San Diego. She employs an ecological approach in her research to examine how institutions, such as school districts, schools, and community organizations, interact to enable or constrain teacher learning and development. A former bilingual teacher, Hopkins is particularly interested in understanding how formal policies and structures, as well as school norms and individual beliefs, shape teachers’ learning opportunities in bi/multilingual contexts, and in exploring how bilingual teachers’ informal leadership contributes to educational change efforts. Her scholarship has appeared in several top-tier journals, including Educational Researcher, Educational Policy, Journal of Teacher Education, and American Educational Research Journal. She also co-edited the volumes Forbidden Language: English Learners and Restrictive Language Policies (with P. Gándara, Teachers College Press, 2010) and School Integration Matters: Research-Based Strategies to Advance Equity (with E. Frankenberg and L. M. Garces, Teachers College Press, 2016). In 2011, Hopkins received the Dissertation of the Year Award from the Bilingual Education Research Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association. She received her Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University.

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