This article originally appeared in Diverse Issues in Higher Education and is reprinted with permission.
The 1787 U.S. Constitution was ratified to establish justice, liberty, and prosperity, but not for all Americans. Like the Constitution, early American educational practices were based on a system of whiteness and elitism. Justice and prosperity for those who comprise marginalized groups have remained largely unfulfilled. We know for certain that we are a pluralistic society. No one group has singularly built this nation, secured its borders, nor defended its values. The plurality of our nation is our strength. As educators, particularly who prepare America’s future teachers, we must double down, now more than ever, on what Horace Mann said, “Education, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance wheel of the social machinery.”
America has yet to become an equal society, and these societal ills create the need for scholar activism embedded in Critical Race Theory (CRT), which historically documents and names the atrocities carried out in this country in the name of freedom, liberty, and democracy. America’s struggle to uphold the Constitution for all its citizens makes it necessary to examine the structural oppression that encumbers the United State from fully living up to its democratic ideals. Through CRT, scholars across higher education have researched racial inequality that emerged from the social, economic, and legal differences created between races to maintain elite, white interests in this country. If our national laws and practices are to ensure justice and equity, then educators have a great deal of work to do in ensuring the American ideals we teach youth to value in school are a reality for all.
In 2017, several Elementary Education faculty members came together to create the University of Central Florida (UCF) Lake County Teacher Knights program, which was designed to support students who were graduating from the UCF South Lake Campus as they navigated their first few years in the classroom. Each month, the faculty members host evening professional learning sessions (with dinner) for these first through third year teachers. Additionally, they have partnered with Lake County Schools professional development department to host workshops on topics of the teachers’ request.
Now in year four, Lake County Teacher Knights are reflecting on a question many senior interns and recent graduates ask themself before that first day in their senior placement or their first classroom … “What do I need to know?” Well, here is what this group of dedicated and talented teachers want to share with future senior interns and new career teachers, shared with love and hope for a brighter teaching future.
Here is their A-Z list of everything you wished you knew …
This article originally appeared on the Department of Education website and is reprinted with permission.
I began my journey as a special educator in 1973. My first job was as a paraprofessional for students with emotional disturbance. The program was intended to transition students who had been in psychiatric hospitals back into public school. Our classroom was housed in a trailer on the playground of an elementary school in the Bronx.
Fresh out of college with a degree in literature, I was very keen on poetry. With the support of the teacher in charge of my class, I developed a curriculum on poetry. Much to my delight, the students were all in. They wrote some magnificent poems. Shortly after we finished the unit, the principal announced a school wide poetry contest. Elated, I met with him and provided the students’ work for submission to the contest. After looking at the poems briefly, he returned them to me saying, “There is no way those students could have written those poems.” I was devastated.
The University of Maryland, Prince George’s Community College and Prince George’s County Public Schools announced a dual enrollment program to increase the teaching workforce in the state.
The Middle College Program enables high schoolers from county schools to earn an associate of arts degree in teaching while completing their high school requirements. Dual enrollment students can then transfer seamlessly into the UMD College of Education’s undergraduate teaching program; the program also aligns with Bowie State University and Howard University’s academic requirements.
“The collaboration is a reflection of our commitment to developing innovative new pathways to prepare an excellent and diverse teacher workforce for Prince George’s County Public Schools and for the state of Maryland,” said Jennifer King Rice, dean of the College of Education. “This model of ‘growing your own’ teachers will increase diversity in the education field, develop teachers from the local community and address critical teaching shortages.”
In a recent interview with AACTE, Gaëtane Jean-Marie, dean and professor of educational leadership at the College of Education, Rowan University, discusses the importance of preparing teacher candidates to understand the cultural background of students in moving toward a more humanistic approach to see the learner as an individual.
Why is it important to prepare teacher candidates in culturally responsive classroom management?
It is to really realize the belief that all children can learn. A while back when I was teaching as a faculty member, I remember DuFour’s comment that stayed and resonates with me; it is that, “if we truly believe that all children can learn, what then do we do when they can’t, when they are not learning?” It makes me ask: What is our responsibility to help bridge the cultural gap between teachers and students? As we continue to help diversify the teaching profession, it is still predominantly white teachers who are the educators, so how do we prepare them? What’s the responsibility of ensuring that our teacher candidates can really meet the needs of all learners? Given the demographic shift, where more of our Black and Brown children are in schools and will be taught by teachers who are not of the same race. If we are recognizing that it starts with the belief that all children can learn, then our belief must also align with our practices as we continue to work hard to diversify the profession. We espouse the belief that all children can learn; now let’s realize that dream.
On November 19, AACTE held its inaugural virtual Town Hall featuring an interactive discussion on Critical Race Theory (CRT) in education with six leading educators: Marvin Lynn, Ph.D., dean and professor, College of Education, Portland State University; Kimberly White-Smith, Ed.D., dean, La Fetra College of Education and Professor, University of La Verne; Lisa Norton, Ed.D., dean, College of Education and Health Sciences, Touro University, California; Jesse Perez Mendez, Ph.D., dean, College of Education, Texas Tech University; John Henning, Ph.D., dean, School of Education, Monmouth University; and Jacob Easley II, Ph.D., dean, Graduate School of Education, Touro College. During the session, the panelists addressed the integral role educator preparation programs play in advancing scholarly work on CRT as well as questions posed by the audience.
As the moderator, Mendez guided the conversation beginning with an explanation of CRT. “Please define Critical Race Theory and explain its tenets and brief history in education,” he said. Lynn responded, “Critical Race Theory is defined as a historical analysis and critique of racism and white supremacy. It’s an analysis of racism and white supremacy in the law and society that really uses relevant examples of case law, public policy, popular culture and critical historical events that are designed to draw attention to the way in which the law is racially constituted.” Lynn said, “And then we can think about critical race theory as an interdisciplinary critical theoretical method that’s taken up again chiefly by legal scholars. It draws on fields of sociology, anthropology, ethnic studies, and women’s studies to put forward a critique, a broad, systemic critique of race and racism as a key axis of power in the United States and around the world.”
Take your clinical practice program to the next level with proven tips and best practices revealed during AACTE’s virtual 2021 Annual Meeting
, February 24-26. Discover ways to explore, expand, and inspire new ideas about effective, clinically-rich partnerships in educator preparation through concurrent sessions focused on conference Strand IV: Clinical Practice and Community Engagement. Register now for access to the latest content on how to produce educators who are confident, learner-ready, and contextually aware in sessions such as:
- Eliminating the Drive-By Field Experience: Co-Constructing a Model Based in Community Engagement
- Exploring the Inequities of Student Teaching During the COVID Crises
- Preparing University Faculty for Clinically-oriented, Practice-based Teacher Education
- The Other Pandemic: Engaging Black Families During COVID-19
- Incorporation of Virtual Simulations to Prepare Special Education Teacher Candidates to Collaborate with Racially, Culturally, and Linguistically Diverse Families
- Pivoting into a Paradigm Shift: Clinical Experiences in Online Classrooms
- Entrepreneurial School-Based Leadership and University Partnerships
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