There were 15 PSTs who took part in the program with seven teacher candidates (call them this rather than students to avoid confusion) enrolled in EDCI 516 Bilingualism & Second Language Acquisition Research and eight students enrolled in the ELED 553 Science Methods for the Elementary Classroom. The second author constructed teaching teams based on grade-level preferences of the PSTs, placing them in teams of three across five student groups (two groups of K-l and one group each of grades 2-3, 4-5, and 6-7). Each of the PST teams was given a curriculum map to provide a skeleton outline of possible approaches to fit the school-requested theme of exploring properties of water, water conservation and how water helps to meet the needs of their community. The students from ELED 553 were familiar with some of the approaches, as they had engaged with them in the methods course, but teams were encouraged to further develop and adjust activities based on the experiences in their Costa Rican classroom context. There was an overarching goal to connect the science content to the lives and experiences of the children’s local context as well as to utilize language skills to articulate their ideas for addressing these issues in their own communities. We wanted our teaching teams to be creative about creating opportunities to actively use language as well as to expand or change the science approaches based on the needs and interests of children within their individual class groupings.

Study Design

We envisioned the approach of this qualitative study as an instrumental case study (Stake, 1995), which differs from the traditional approaches to case study research, because the questions of the researcher are at the center of the study as opposed to the primary goal of understanding the case itself. This method was chosen because we found ourselves in a condition where, “we have a research question, a puzzlement, a need for general understanding, and feel that we may get insight into the question by studying a particular case” (Stake, 1995, p. 3). We were primarily interested in understanding PST experiences and insights into the cross-program collaboration, where we treated the entire program as a single case.

Data Collection and Analysis

The data collected included observations ofPSTs team teaching, PST journal entries, post-experience focus group and individual interviews. All interviews and focus groups were recorded and transcribed by the first author. In an effort to build credibility, data sets were subjected to multiple complete readings by both authors in which we generated a list of emergent themes, and then coded all data into those categories (Corbin & Strauss, 2015). The emergent themes from this analysis included: positive experience, challenges, importance of collaboration, and international experience as reflective lens. This chapter will focus solely on the importance of collaboration. The following section highlights the major findings from this process to synthesize the impacts and challenges of bringing collaborative content and language practices to fruition in an international context.


Facing Fears

The first challenge for us as directors of the program was that each of our PST groups expressed trepidation when it came to spanning the boundary between science and language teaching with bilingual children possessing varied language and literacy skills in English. In an effort to facilitate PST thinking, we provided a series of readings and facilitated discussions to help them consider key ideas related to teaching science and language in an integrated way. However, the PSTs expressed the worries that they carried with them into the experience as evidenced by ESOL PST Laurie (all participant names are pseudonyms):

1 think it was a little bit hard for me with not knowing the science beforehand and having to learn it the day before to really be able to expand on the ESOL part of it. So that part was hard for me.

We assumed that providing the curricular map and demonstrating and discussing science content and language usage opportunities through modeling the hands-on experiments would support the PSTs in integrating content learning and language development in their teaching. However, engaging with the science only the day before using it in the classroom impacted Laurie’s ability to bring more substantial ESOL approaches to her team. Interestingly, ELED PSTs had similar fears of science content, despite university classroom engagement with the science activities, which were in addition to their language content concerns as evidenced by Connie:

Even though I knew I would be challenged and thrown into it, I think the excitement and the passion just, I overcame that fear. There is still that fear of the unknown... So personally, between teaching science and teaching with the language difference, both were so unknown and uncomfortable that it was like accepting all of it as a new experience.

Thus, we learned that even after extensive content experience, ELED PSTs can often still carry content fears into the classroom, which is consistent with research regarding the preparation of elementary teachers (Gilbert & Byers, 2017). These worries linked to one of our hopes around collaboration—for the PSTs to notice that ESOL and science teachers need to work together to maximize learning with emergent bilingual children. Each group of PSTs carried anxieties into the experience but looked to one another for support, which seemed to lessen their worries as they faced the classroom teaching challenge at St. Sebastian. This was often on display each evening, when teaching teams would meet to refine plans for the following day. We would often witness cross-team interaction and collaboration to shore up ideas and content-related questions during these evening planning sessions.

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