Teacher Education

Diversity in the teaching workforce

Kate Walsh, President of the National Council on Teacher Quality, presents an excellent discussion on ways to effectively increase diversity among the teaching workforce. The Shanker Institute reports that diversity among teachers is decreasing. Walsh argues that rather than lowering standards to encourage minority students to enroll in teacher preparation programs, focus should be given to “make teacher preparation programs an inviting place for college students who want to learn and work hard—no matter what their race—by making the professional coursework more rigorous and substantial.”

Walsh also suggests seeking effective solutions without sacrificing teacher quality for the students who most need great teachers. “Rather than perpetuating the myth that teaching is a job that anyone can do, let’s increase recruitment efforts and seek out the people who have the academic aptitude to become our next generation of great teachers.”

Personally I would say that all students need great teachers, not just minority students. All students would benefit from sitting under a diverse teacher population. The advantages for increasing teacher diversity are not only a benefit for minority students, but also benefit majority students, while contributing toward creation of a more equitable and respectful society.We all need to learn from each other and learn to respect each other rather than weighting our preferences for those most similar to ourselves culturally. Walsh’s write-up and suggestions are good, but she doesn’t go far enough to make the case for diversity among the workforce. Read her entire article here. Then add your own comments below.

Diversity in the classroom.

Below are three links to Anne Burns’ talks on the development of teacher education over the last decades. Teacher preparation includes the need to prepare teachers for a significant increase in diversity in the classroom. In many places this is already a fairly common state. How has your teacher education or professional development prepared you for broad diversity in your classroom? What recommendations can you offer your colleagues related to linguistic and cultural diversity in the classroom?

Anne Burns 1 of 3 on developments in language teacher education.

Anne Burns 2 of 3 on developments in language teacher education.

Anne Burns 3 of 3 on preparing teachers for diversity in the classroom.



University of Regina Conference: Public engagement and the politics of evidence

The conference proceedings of the University of Regina Conference on Public Engagement and the Politics of Evidence are now available at http://www.politicsofevidence.ca/.  First Nations scholar Dr. Marie Battiste gave a critical perspective of the Canadian initiatives in higher education  that aim to empower indigenous scholars within mainstream higher education through indigenization of education (http://www.politicsofevidence.ca/marie-battiste/). Indigenization of education includes provision of more equitable opportunities for indigenous peoples in higher education as well as representation and teaching of indigenous knowledge. However, according to Dr. Battiste the analysis and solutions are created out of a Eurocentric perspective without considering or including the experts among indigenous people in either analysis or response. Thus activities are based on assimilation while ignoring the contexts from which indigenous scholars originate – oppression, poverty, class hierarchy, white dominance, privilege and discrimination. Battiste suggests that any decolonization initiative needs to address issues of self-determination, indigenous knowledge reconstruction, damage done by past systems, discourses of deficits and benefits of assimilation among other topics.

One participant asked Marie to respond to the negative, deficiency narratives that arise with each initiative of indigenization of education. These negative discourses suggest that indigenization of higher education is a “form of damaging accommodation that is an affront to academic education”. Marie’s response focuses the need to move forward and engage everyone as complicit in the futures of indigenous people. Rather than viewing indigenization as a step backward, we must see the process as moving forward toward a better future for all.

This conversation is an interesting contrast to the last post on this site about the hiring of minority teachers in Boston. It appears that mere hiring of minority teachers during a crisis does not actually address issues of equity. On going conversation with leaders in minority communities to understand their perspective, the context within which they live and work and their own ideals and desired futures would contribute more to crafting initiatives that may truly contribute to social equity. Simple hierarchical decisions made by dominant leaders will not create change, nor does it acknowledge that everyone is complicit in the futures of both minority and majority students.


Language and Literacy Transfer – what does the research say?

At OISE’s home page, on the right hand side there is a short video of Dr. Becky Chen’s research. She looks at transfer of language and literacy between first languages and second languages. Her research has found that first language development and first language literacy is very important for transfer to second language development and second language literacy.  Her findings are helpful for classroom instruction and for parent planning for language use at home. Take less than two minutes to hear her informative and short video.

Diverse Teaching Strategies for Diverse Learners

Chapter 2 of the book Educating Everybody’s Children, edited by Robert W. Cole, is a rich resource offering research based strategies to meet the needs of diverse students toward closing the achievement gap.  Teachers make a difference and strengthen their practices by understanding the context and needs of all their students and addressing those needs by incorporating these practices in their classrooms. Directly facing our personal stereotypes begins to allow us to change our thinking and see our students from a different light, one that values them and chooses to build on what they know and bring to the classroom.  The entire chapter is available for free here. While each focus is important, my favorite strategies are 2.5, 2.6, 2.10 and 2.17. What are your favorites?