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Elsa Billings

Dr. Billings is an Assistant Professor at San Diego State University’s Policy Studies in Language and Cross-cultural Education Department where she teaches courses in the Multiple and Single Subject bilingual teacher education programs, as well as the MA program.

Dr. Billings’ has a range of publications concerned with issues that impact the academic opportunities and success of English learners (ELs), with particular interests in the experiences of ELs and the professional development, values and experiences of the teachers who teach them.  Her overriding concern is how policies, programs and pedagogy are enacted and the resulting impact on students and teachers.  This concern was first highlighted in a first-authored article titled, “Proposition 227:  Tales from the schoolhouse,” published in a special issue of the Bilingual Research Journal.  Since then, Dr. Billings has been invited to contribute to the latest volume of Handbook of Research on Multicultural Education and to the 2010 National Society for the Study Yearbook (NSSE) volume on “Education, Immigrant Students, Refugee Students, and English Learners.”  Two recent articles highlight Dr. Billings’ interest in the teachers of ELs; including their professional development, their attitudes, understandings, and experiences in teaching ELs, and how they enact these.  “Developing Socio-Political Active Teachers: A Model for Teacher Professional Development,” published in the Forum on Public Policy, highlights a graduate level course that provided teachers of ELs a space to address the tensions they experience as they are called to enact policies that go against research on best practices and their own personal teaching ideologies. “Beyond the school walls: A critical action research study examining the perils and promises of critical teacher engagement” recently published in a special issue titled, “Critical Educators at Work: Perils and Promise” in The International Journal of Critical Pedagogy.  The article documents the efforts of a group of K–12 teacher activists in a large urban Southern California community as they struggle to improve the educational conditions of low-income Latino students. 

Dr. Billings’ body of scholarly work also includes a series of multimedia video cases of effective teaching practices in teaching English learners.  Funded through a $1 million Federal Department of Education grant which she co-wrote, these video cases serve as the core curriculum for Stanford’s California Teachers of English Learners CTEL/CLAD Online Certification Program, in addition to being used by educators throughout the United States and abroad.

In addition to research, Dr. Billings’ provides state leadership in the area of English language teaching and language policy by recently serving as Elementary Chair for the California Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (CATESOL).

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