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Penn Center for MSIs Convening Highlights New Report

On October 28-30, we had the privilege of taking part in the National Convening on Success in Teacher Education at Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), held at the University of Pennsylvania. Hosted by the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions, the convening was focused around the release of the Center’s new report, A Rich Source for Teachers of Color and Learning: Minority Serving Institutions.

MSIs, which include Hispanic-serving institutions, tribal colleges and universities, historically Black colleges and universities, and Asian American and Native American/Pacific Islander-serving institutions, educate 20% of college and university students, many of whom are low-income and first-generation college students as well as students of color. Because of their focus and scope, MSIs play a key role in teacher preparation and efforts to diversify the nation’s teaching workforce.

The Penn Center report, supported with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, presents findings from a research study of capacity-building projects undertaken by four MSIs: California State University, Fresno, Jackson State University (MS), New Mexico State University, and Stone Child College (MT). At the convening, each institution’s project was the focus of separate one-hour sessions providing an overview of the initiative and its outcomes related to advancing diversity in the teaching workforce.

The conference kicked off with a panel of teacher candidates from the four MSIs. Several themes emerged through their conversation, including the positive impact of access to opportunities and the importance of support within their programs as well as from family, community, and faculty. Keynote speaker Michael Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College (TX), furthered this theme as he spoke about leading with love, emphasizing that leaders need to meet students where they are.

The convening’s general sessions dealt with developing culturally responsive curriculum, funding teacher education initiatives, supporting candidates to succeed when taking teacher entrance and certification exams, and communicating program success. Other sessions highlighted strategies for retaining students once they enter a teacher preparation program, including fostering close faculty relations, providing financial support for high-stakes tests, and integrating a focus on diversity and equity across course work and content standards. The last session issued a call to action through planning activities to support collaboration among attendees with a focus on advancing the future of teacher preparation, particularly for candidates of color.

The importance of offering strong student support systems was evident throughout the convening, including the value of engaging families and communities to bolster teacher candidates’ ability to overcome persistent obstacles impeding their success. These factors are also central to AACTE’s efforts to diversify the education workforce – the Black and Hispanic/Latino Male Teachers Initiative Networked Improvement Community (NIC) and the Holmes Program – which recognize the power and value of mentorship, dependable networks, leadership development, service, research, and culturally relevant pedagogy.

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Amanda Lester

Director, Programs & Professional Learning, AACTE

Omar Davis

Manager of Member Engagement, AACTE