In the final installment of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month blog series, AACTE and Valerie Ooka Pang spoke with Lin Wu, recipient of the 2022 AACTE Outstanding Dissertation Award for “Borderland Teaching of Chinese American Teachers with Mexican American Students: Toward the Development of a Theory,” about his research, experiences in the academy, and insights on the triumphs and challenges of AANHPI educators and students.
Wu, who completed his dissertation for the Ph.D. at the University of Washington-Seattle and currently serves as an assistant professor in the College of Education at Western Oregon University, is the first Asian male to receive the distinguished award. When he began his graduate scholarship in the Deep South, where there is a Black-White racial binary, he says, “I just always felt like I did not belong to either group. I am somewhere in between.” This led Wu to his dissertation research and he asked himself, “What if I’m not alone? What if other Asian American teachers, specifically Chinese American teachers, share a similar experience?”
Wu’s dissertation studied three Chinese American teachers working with 11 Mexican American students in three ethnically diverse urban secondary schools in the Pacific Northwest, a unprolific research topic in the field. “As I was doing a literature review for my dissertation, [most of the research] was on teachers of color working with students of color from the same ethnic or racial group. I don’t know if it is intentional, but I ask myself [why is it] few folks want to discuss crossing ‘minority’ cultural borders in our research?” He reminds scholars of a quote from Toni Morrison that motivated him through this challenge, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
In his acceptance speech at AACTE’s 2022 Annual Meeting, Wu reminded the audience of the anniversary of the deadly shooting in Atlanta that killed eight people, six of whom were working-class Asian women. We join Wu in asking members to remember their lives and say their names: Hyun Jung Grant, Soon Chung Park, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, Xiaojie Tan and Daoyou Feng.
To create a more just society for AANHPI communities, all teachers must represent and validate the prolific histories and multi-dimensional identities of AANHPI students. This need was encapsulated perfectly in advice Wu received from Gloria Ladson-Billings about his job as a teacher educator, “It is not about you.” He elaborates, “[she said] I am not invalidating your struggles. Your struggles are real …. However, when your daughter goes to school, she will have to learn to navigate this world in a way that does not see her fully. So, your job is to make sure that the teachers and adults who will work with her one day will not do that.” We agree that all teacher education faculty share responsibility to ensure all preservice teachers are prepared to see students for who they fully are.
Wu’s Doctoral Experience
In addition to improving AANHPI inclusive curriculum and pedagogical standards, we know that representation matters. There is a lack of male teachers of color in the United States, AANHPI included. Wu reflected on his experiences as a doctoral student and recommended that programs be more intentional in providing financial support to Asians and Asian Americans, a barrier he faced in funding his education partially due to the model minority belief. This and other themes raised in Wu’s experiences resemble barriers to becoming a teacher found in AACTE’s Black and Hispanic/Latino Male Teacher NIC, including feelings of isolation, lacking familial and academic resources as a first-generation college student, family caretaker expectations, needing to work to support oneself while studying, and racial and gender stereotypes.
Wu explains that the male teacher of Color shortage is even worse in teacher education. When he began working as a graduate teaching assistant, he was the only male doctoral student of color for two years in that teacher education program. Beyond the socio-cultural barriers, Wu recalls a lack of curricular representation in many graduate courses, either for or by AANHPI scholars. When describing the research used across most of his methods training classes as a doctoral candidate, he says, “If I remember correctly, there were only two articles written by Asian American scholars, neither of which focused on Asian American students or teachers.” To be more inclusive, EPPs must ensure their curriculum represents every group so that students interested in research in those directions have access to representative resources. Finally, Wu describes the role mentorship played in his success: “I am eternally grateful to the sustaining mentorship from eminent scholars, including Dr. Geneva Gay and Dr. Valerie Ooka Pang. Cross-cultural and cross-gender mentorship is crucial for me because I will need mentors with different backgrounds and expertise to guide my work to represent my community better.”
Wu’s Teaching Experience
Now, as a faculty member teaching Social Cultural Foundations of Education and Multicultural Education, Wu works with predominantly White female preservice teachers. Besides preparing them to become culturally responsive teachers, he hopes to (re)present Asian men positively since most of them never had the opportunity to learn from Asian male teachers. That is another challenge facing all leaders in spaces where they are underrepresented — the expectation to “do everything right because you want to be a good representation of your community.” Wu continues, “My first time teaching the multicultural education course was challenging because some students did not perceive an Asian man to be qualified to talk about race.” His response is advice all educators should take since no one can be responsible for explaining or representing any group perfectly: “How do I humanize and correct the mistakes I made and teach my students to do the same?” What is even more essential within Wu’s advice is to do so with humility.
Earlier this year, in AACTE focus groups on teaching the truth in history and civics, teacher education faculty consistently agreed that end-of-course student evaluations created hesitation around discussing race and racism in the classroom, even when they desired to do so. Normalizing these open discussions and providing students with tools to analyze and counter accusations about critical race theory and other frameworks for democratic discussions on race and racism is essential. AACTE is grateful to Wu for modeling its efficacy, “I am committed to helping teachers transform their struggles into agencies to support all students, especially students of color.”
Lastly, Wu shares some recommendations to support AANHPI faculty and be more inclusive of AANHPI students and other students of color in schools. First, he says faculty should be prepared to have effective and frequent discussions on diversity, equity, and inclusion, by asking “How is the end-of-year feedback going to improve my teaching or your learning? My job is not to nag you about how racism impacts everybody in society. My job is to prepare you for the work you need to do so that you can succeed and sustain your success in this profession.” To accomplish this, faculty should remain committed learners by reading classic and emerging research and scholarship on advancing racial equity. Wu says, “I always strive to pair classic readings such as culturally responsive teaching with emerging case studies on [what] it looks like in practice for ethnically diverse students across content areas and grade levels.”
When it comes to program structures, Wu recommends EPPs make social-cultural foundation and multicultural education courses a requirement for all teacher candidates. Hire qualified faculty members, especially those of color, to teach the courses, provide systemic support, and ensure that the course content is historically grounded, theoretically rich, practically nuanced, and represents every racial group.
Finally, teacher education programs must allocate sustaining support for AANHPI faculty to pursue their research and develop their leadership capacity. “I am grateful to my mentor, Dr. Ken Carano, for helping me navigate my journey as a tenure-track faculty at Western Oregon University. I also appreciate my dean, Dr. Mark Girod, for funding my research and supporting me to lead the annual AAPI Heritage Month celebration in our college,” says Wu.
Wu wants Asian American scholars and other scholars of color in teacher education to know they should find colleagues and mentors who can support their personal and professional growth within and outside their institutions. Even though every institution has its problems, scholars of color can build a supportive network that nurtures their souls and helps them thrive.
The biggest takeaway in our interview with Wu is this: Teachers must understand that this job is never about them. Wu adds, “Your job is to teach students to be critical thinkers, engaged citizens, and supportive community members, who can challenge things when they are not right.”
Read other blogs in the AANHPI Heritage Month Series:
As of May 2, PEN America has noted that 34% of Live Educational Gag Order bills affect Institutes of Higher Education, and 100% of the teachers in the 15 states that have signed gag orders into law feel the impact on their work. In addition to these laws and the more than 80 live gag-order bills, rampant illegal and legalized banning of books is restricting the rights of educators to serve diverse students and their equally diverse needs. It is necessary for educators to understand and address this coordinated attack to protect students’ quality of education, human rights and mental health.
This year, at AACTE’s 2022 Washington Week, AACTE has dedicated one of its three strands to education censorship. The strand was developed based on feedback from members and AACTE’s research report on education censorship. Highlights from the report will be released at Washington Week. Sessions will cover the following objectives:
- The scope, tactics, and themes within education censorship policies
- Which policies implicate IHE, and how faculty can organize to address them
- How these policies and the moral panic surrounding them affect the work of teachers, and therefore teacher educators
Every student deserves to learn and thrive in a school environment that supports student identities, equips them for the future, and teaches the truth. Unfortunately, across the country, we have seen attempts to surveil and gag educators and whitewash the history of the United States by attacking culturally responsive curriculum, respect for LGBTQ+ students, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. We need to teach students the truth of our history to enable them to learn from the wisdom and mistakes of our past to help create a more just and equitable future. We must ensure students have an honest and accurate education that helps them develop critical thinking skills.
On Tuesday, May 24, The Leadership Conference Education Fund will host the second webinar in its Teaching Truth series in collaboration with AACTE, Ed Trust, GLSEN, IDRA, and National Black Justice Coalition. In this webinar, we will hear from messaging experts on how to break through the noise and make a proactive, compelling, and mobilizing case for the importance of teaching the truth in our schools. Additionally, we will hear from advocates who are taking messaging research and putting it into action to fight against the attacks on honest teaching in our schools.
- Victoria Kirby York, National Black Justice Coalition
- Anthony Torres, ASO Communications
- Thomas Marshall, IDRA
- Sumi Cho, African American Policy Forum
RSVP for the webinar today.
School leadership is second only to teaching among school-related factors in its impact on student learning, and school leader preparation programs play a key role in facilitating that success. As the leading voice in educator preparation, AACTE has launched a new podcast series, “Revolutionizing School Leadership Through Research”. This new podcast series highlights three cutting-edge research reports from the Wallace Foundation’s Knowledge Center on School Leadership. The three-episode series defines the evolving role and expectations of the principalship, the corresponding preparation required to meet those expectations, and the state policy levers that can be pulled to increase the number of qualified, equitable leaders in that position.
The first episode takes a macro look into the connection between school leadership and school outcomes. AACTE speaks with the lead author, Jason Grissom, of the Wallace commissioned report, How Principals Affect Students and Schools, A Systematic Synthesis of Two Decades of Research”, Grissom walks through the major landscape shifts in the past 20 years, with key insights into how preparation programs can be effective, equitable leaders.
AACTE is excited to announce another free professional development series for its Holmes Scholars this summer. This series will incorporate and build on skills covered at this year’s Holmes Preconference to serve both those scholars who were unable to join their peers at the preconference while also expanding on the professional development themes of navigating the job market and writing skills.
AACTE invites all Holmes Scholars to review and register for the following sessions:
AACTE, in its efforts to revolutionize education, is partnering with Digital Promise to support their work in tackling systems-level transformation that directly address the challenges students face. Digital Promise wants to ensure that each student has equitable access to educators and learning experiences that affirm and honor their identities, expertise, and cultures. Through professional development and its free and open-source tool, the Learner Variability Project LVN), Digital Promise empowers educators to deepen their understanding of learner variability and embrace equitable and inclusive practices that support the whole child.
As another Women’s History Month comes to an end, AACTE wants to acknowledge the achievements of women-identified leaders in educator preparation. The Association kicked off its celebration by asking you, AACTE members, to identify a leader who affected your work as an educator through their mentorship, research, and colleagueship. AACTE is honored to share those responses here and want to congratulate all women members for their contributions to their classrooms and the field each day.
Joan Rhodes, chair, Department of Teaching and Learning and associate professor, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education
“Dr. Rhodes models skillful leadership and compassion. A transformational leader, she is responsive to the financial and structural needs of the larger institution, while prioritizing the human experience of faculty, staff, and students. She treats department members with dignity, soliciting feedback and input regularly. This collaborative approach led to adapting department practices. Voices previously unheard are now heard and respected. She quietly elevates and lifts all her colleagues and students, creating pathways to leadership roles for all members of the community. She makes me, a junior faculty member, feel seen, heard, and valued while I continue to develop my leadership skills.”
AACTE continues its collaboration with AERA’s Division K: Teaching and Teacher Education to produce an in-depth, scaffolded, three-part series of professional learning opportunities addressing the recent uptick in education censorship across the nation. The first presentation of the series took place as a Deeper Dive session during AACTE’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans. On April 12, AACTE and AERA Division K will co-host a workshop: Educators Addressing Censorship through Collective Action & Messaging, which will include members of our P-20 education system. The third session in our series is a Town Hall taking place during the AERA Conference in late April where Lynn Gangone, AACTE CEO and president will be moderating alongside AERA Executive Director, Felice Levine, and Division K Chair, Dorothea Anagnostopoulos.
You may have heard the term “intersectionality” a lot lately, a term coined by Kimberlee Crenshaw in 1989 to describe how systems of oppression overlap to create distinct experiences for people with multiple identity categories. Those familiar with Crenshaw’s work know that the term was once used academically purely to shape legal conversations about racial and social injustice in systems, most notably policing. Now, “intersectionality” is part of the national lexicon, being used in the forefront of the country’s debates around racial and social injustice in the last few years; however, that should not dissuade educators from looking at their work through this lens.
For educators, intersectionality is used to frame the experiences of historical and current figures who have multiple identities when they teach. For example, during Women’s History Month, it’s important for educators to consider how the experiences of women of color, queer and trans women, women with disabilities, women with different body types, and multi-lingual women differ, and then represent them as such in their curriculum. Educators can build this intersectional teaching muscle by having conversations about their diverse experiences with one another and, as teachers, share research and resources that elevate the truth of women with intersectional identities in our schools. This is why, on International Women’s Day, we asked several of our members and staff to answer the question:
Why is integrating women’s history through an intersectional lens important to you and your work in education?
AACTE launches it celebration of 2022 Women’s History Month on International Women’s Day with a blog on the “herstory” of women leaders in education preparation. To help AACTE celebrate women leaders in the profession, please nominate a women-identified leader in educator preparation whom you would like us to recognize in Ed Prep Matters before the month ends.
The term “herstory” was coined in 1970 by Robin Morgan, editor of Sisterhood is Powerful, An Anthology of Writings from the Women’s Liberation Movement. It is used today to acknowledge the way in which women have been left out of our historical narratives. Most schools teach history through the lens of America’s default norms: white, cisgendered, and male. AACTE is committed to supporting its membership with their efforts to prepare candidates to equitably represent intersectional female narratives across disciplines.
This month, AACTE launched its Racial and Social Justice Hub, a place to learn, grow, inquire, and share resources with one another that address social injustices and advocate for the preparation of profession-ready educators. To help ensure AACTE is meeting the needs of the educator preparation community in advancing racial and social justice work, you are invited to complete a 90-second survey to inform future content – it’s not for you, without you.
AACTE is committed to tackling systematic censorship within our country’s education system, alongside our members and partners, and it does so through an intersectional lens.
As an organization whose mission is to revolutionize education for all learners, AACTE developed the Racial and Social Justice Resource Hub to be a place for members to learn, grow, inquire, and share resources with one another that address social injustices and advocate for the preparation of profession-ready educators.
The Hub includes three sections: Education Censorship, Combating Racism, and LGBTQ+ Rights. Each section offers resources created by AACTE and its members and strategic partners, including articles, webinars and workshops, curriculum tools, and calls for action. Considering the ongoing efforts underway that limit educators’ teaching and discussion of our nation’s history, and other so-called divisive topics, AACTE is encouraging members to engage with the Hub to support your own teaching and scholarship.
Throughout AACTE Presents: The University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI) podcast, guests have talked at length about the district’s role in working with preparation programs to produce effective school leaders, but what is the state’s role? Each of the seven programs in UPPI were given a state partner as well, and in the final episode of the podcast, AACTE talks to authors of two Wallace Foundation commissioned reports on state policy and principal prep about how UPPI programs should be leveraging their state partnerships.
Join AACTE in celebrating Black History Month by sharing your favorite resources for teaching Black history at the Ed Prep or PK-12 level. AACTE will compile this shared knowledge as a toolkit for teaching Black history every month of the year. Please take a moment to share your resources.
This post is the first of AACTE’s weekly Black History Month 2022 Blog series to celebrate members’ essential efforts to increase the representation of Black History in America’s schools. As a kickoff to the celebration, AACTE is releasing, for a limited time to the public, a recording of AACTE’s 2021 Annual Meeting Deeper Dive session, The 1619 Project.
Founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, Lonnie Bunch, describes the museum as a place that “transcends the boundaries of race and culture that divide us and becomes a lens into a story that unites us all.” That is a powerful statement, and one AACTE and its members strive to emulate as it celebrates Black History, not just this month, but every day as AACTE advocates for curriculum and policies that are representative of the country’s diverse history.
Black History Month began as an effort to increase the representation in history classes of Black people’s contributions to America’s society, culture, and progress as a nation. Its origin lies in the thesis of Carter G. Woodson. According to an adaption of the National Museum of American History’s blog exhibit on Dr. Woodson, he was challenged by his dissertation advisors, who, according to Dr. Woodson, cautioned him time and again not to “undertake research that the Negro had a history.” Woodson knew that education is essential to social change — and AACTE honors that as part of its mission.
Since the historic SCOTUS ruling in 1982, Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District v. Pico, which ruled that school boards cannot remove books because they disagree with them, describing libraries as spaces of “voluntary inquiry,” book bans and challenges have continued. The education field is based upon the values of intellectual freedom that were upheld by this and other Supreme Court decisions; however, the executive director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom recently stated in an interview, “We’re seeing an unprecedented volume of challenges.” While there is a formal “challenge” process for censoring information in libraries and curriculum, the enormous increase in political pressure has prompted some school districts to abandon their policies and begin pulling the books without undergoing this review process. As a result of not abiding by this process, which is legally reserved for challenging content that is “obscene,” books that overwhelmingly depict LGBTQ+ and BIPOC stories are removed from shelves, having been deemed “obscene” by local opinion.