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Structures to Support Teacher Preparation for Cultural and Global Learning

The author and her collaborators presented a free AACTE webinar last month, “Building Teachers’ Cultural and Global Awareness to ‘Reach and Teach’ All Students”; the webinar recording and slides are available here. See also her earlier blogs on this topic, “Preparing Teachers to ‘Reach and Teach’ All Students” and “The Nature of Cultural and Global Learning: Key Concepts for Teacher Preparation.” The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

The University of Kentucky has been working to transform education programs to better prepare teachers for the diversity of their future classrooms. But we are hardly alone – educator preparation programs, state agencies, accrediting bodies, and others are all directing energy and support toward ensuring the education workforce is prepared to reach and teach all students.

The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, for example, has incorporated diversity into all of its standards and likewise expects programs to embed multicultural competence throughout their courses and experiences.

My institution is helping to lead a statewide initiative that also involves representatives from Kentucky’s Education Professional Standards Board, the agency that governs teacher certification and educator preparation program accreditation, and the Kentucky Department of Education, the governing body for the PK-12 curriculum. The goal of this project is to (a) incorporate indicators that naturally relate to global competence into the system used statewide to guide and assess teacher performance and (b) incorporate global learning into the state’s PK-12 curricular documents used in schools.

One feature of Kentucky’s certification system that can serve as a catalyst for globalizing teaching practice is the state-mandated induction program, known as the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP). KTIP provides a structure for guiding and assessing the progress of all first-year teachers in the state using the Kentucky Teacher Standards, a set of performance standards aligned with the InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards as well as the Kentucky Framework for Teaching, which is used to shape growth of all teachers in the state.

If a global lens is placed over these standards, the initiative has the potential to impact a large portion of the teaching force for several reasons. First, KTIP is a collaborative venture. In Kentucky, interns are fully paid, entry-level teachers who are in charge of their own classrooms. They are supervised by a three-person team: an experienced classroom teacher known as the resource teacher, a representative of a teacher education program (referred to as the teacher educator), and the building principal – all of whom are trained to participate in the program and closely monitor progress throughout the intern year. Frequently, the teacher educators assigned to teams are faculty members from the institution where the candidates were prepared which allows them to guide the progress of their graduates during this critical first year of practice. In addition, the program provides opportunities to support the growth of resource teachers. Resource teachers often report that participation in KTIP impacts their own professional growth. Also, teacher education programs across the state use the KTIP structure to guide and assess the progress of their candidates throughout the program to prepare them for their internship year.

Finally, to fully achieve the goal of a culturally and globally competent teaching profession, we must look beyond revising the curricula of educator preparation programs. We must also create mechanisms for mentoring novice teachers through formal and informal induction programs and make global learning part of the work undertaken in the professional learning communities that already exist in schools across the nation. As instructional leaders, school administrators should be intimately involved in the process. These initiatives should involve parents and representatives of community groups from businesses, civic organizations, and government agencies on a local level and professional organizations on a national and international level. Examples already exist.

I hope we can engage in conversation about this important topic to make sure 21st-century schools are relevant for all the students they serve and the educators who lead them. Please contact me by e-mail or come to one of my upcoming presentations, including May 30 at the NAFSA Global Learning Colloquium on Teacher Education in Los Angeles and September 24-26 at the Fall CAEPCon in Washington, DC. I also encourage you to view the recent AACTE-hosted webinar where I was joined by state and national colleagues to discuss many of these issues and offer tools and resources to help teacher educators.

Sharon Brennan is associate professor and director of clinical practices and school partnerships in the University of Kentucky College of Education.

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Sharon Brennan

University of Kentucky