Member Spotlight: Will Coghill-Behrends

AACTE’s new Member Spotlight features an individual from a member institution, highlighting how their work makes a difference in classrooms across the country. Nominate yourself or another member by providing a response to the following questions and sending to 

Will Coghill BehrendsGet to know Will Coghill-Behrends …

Current position: Clinical Associate Professor, Multilingual Education; Co-Director, Baker Teacher Leader Center (Global Education Initiatives)
Number of years in position: 6
Alma Mater(s): University of Northern Iowa; University of Iowa
Hometown: Bettendorf, Iowa

  1. How long have you been a member of AACTE?
    I’ve been a member of AACTE since 2015, though our institution has been a member for much longer, so by association, I’ve been a member for longer than that, I suppose.
  1. Why did you join AACTE?
    I started taking a more active role in AACTE when we decided to adopt edTPA as our Program Completion Assessment.
  1. Why did you decide to enter the field of educator preparation?
    I was teaching German at the local high school and was asked to teach a course in the teacher preparation program that I had also taught in graduate school. The course was focused on technology in the classroom and that opportunity led to additional teaching opportunities and eventually some grant work on teacher portfolio assessment that pulled me full time into the College of Education and that was all she wrote.

  1. What’s been your favorite or most memorable moment of your career so far?
    While I’m not a Spanish or Portuguese teacher, I had the opportunity to present at the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese conference in Salamanca, Spain where, through my doctoral advisor, I got the privilege of meeting and dining with several big names in our field. Both meeting some of the greatest researchers and teacher educators in applied linguistics, along with being in Spain, was a super memorable and unforgettable experience.
  1. What’s one thing—educator preparation-related or not—you learned in the last month?
    All of the wonderful ways you can use Zoom to bolster more interaction in the classroom “virtual” environment.
  1. What has been the greatest challenge in your career?
    Striving to maintain a focus on and centering of teaching practices that seek to disrupt the systems of white supremacy and classism that are so toxic to our schools and communities. This work involves always and regularly asking and questioning myself, my practices, engaging in lots of work in the community and being self-critical of my work in the classroom.
  1. What advice would you give someone who is interested in working in this field?
    Our imperative right now, well actually always, in teacher education is and should be a focus on critical and emancipatory pedagogies. If you’re not willing to center that in your practice, this work isn’t for you. We need teacher educators who are committed to shifting and changing the dangerous narratives that have driven our schools for a long time.
  1. Who or what inspires you?
    My colleagues at the University of Iowa, are some of the best people I know. They work so hard to be the best teacher educators that they can be, and their passion and commitment is truly awe-inspiring. My husband and our children also motivate me every day. Oh, and I more recently became a grandpa, and my little grandson and the sparkle in his eye reminds me that he deserves the best teachers when he gets to school. So I want to do what I can in that regard for him.
  1. What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
    Maybe that I’m a grandpa already? We adopted our children when they were older, so folks are sometimes surprised when I start in about being a grandpa and how wonderful it is.
  1. What is your favorite part about being a member of AACTE?
    I have truly enjoyed all the life-long friendships and work partnerships I have made through the association. There are so many opportunities to get involved. My work in the LGBTQ TAG, and the Global Education TAG have been so meaningful and fruitful. I really look forward to seeing everyone at the Annual Meeting and am bummed that we’ll be virtual, but of course it’s the thing to do. I’m so impressed with the responsiveness of the leadership team— truly everyone is such a blast to work with and is clearly so passionate about the work they do.

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Meghan Grenda

Director of Membership, AACTE