Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Published in de Oliveira, L. C., & Westerlund, R. (Eds.) (2022), Scaffolding for Multilingual Learners in Elementary and Secondary Schools, New York: Routledge, 2023), pp. 167–180. doi:10.4324/9781003196228-14


Copyright © 2023 Luciana C. de Oliveira and Ruslana Westerlund. Used by permission.


Grounded in findings from multiple disciplines (e.g., neuroscience, human, development, cognitive science, and social psychology), Lee, Meltzoff, and Kuhl (2020) propose a framework to understand human learning. Composed of multiple propositions, one aspect of this framework emphasizes the social nature of learning. Specifically, they argue, “A comprehensive theory of human development must take into account basic motivations for learning from, through, and in relationship with social others” [emphasis added] (p. 25). Education researchers and practitioners working with multilingual students and their teachers have extensively argued for attention to “learning from, through, and in relationships with social others” (Lee et al., 2020, p. 25) (e.g. Hawkins, 2019; Viesca & Teemant, 2019). In fact, Viesca and Teemant (2019) describe how this should occur through attention to three assumptions from sociocultural theory (Vygotsky, 1978): (1) learning is social, (2) teaching is assistance and situated performance, and (3) knowledge is cultural and competent participation. These perspectives on learning are often taken into account when designing learning opportunities for students in K-12 classrooms and we argue they should for teacher professional learning as well. Further, our work and the study described here suggest that such learning for teachers is best accomplished through teacher agency, leadership, and collaboration.