The unit designs, implements, and evaluates curriculum and experiences for candidates to acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to help all students learn. These experiences include working with diverse higher education and school faculty, diverse candidates, and diverse students in P-12 schools.
Thirty years after my first opportunity to teach American Indian children, Mathew’s compelling words still resonate in my thoughts as I work with young people who seek to become teachers. His comments on that January day in 1969 jolted me into realizing the incongruity of his life and culture with the lifestyles depicted in the textbook we used. Like most texts of that era, our reading book portrayed father leaving for his office each morning wearing a gray suit. Mother, dressed in her starched apron, remained at home to cook, clean, sew, and watch over children playing in the green yard surrounding the white, colonial-style family home on Cherry street.
The teacher’s manual for our text prompted me to ask children if they could remember a time when they needed assistance from a “community helper.” My question met with silence. Then Mathew spoke. He told us in his own matter-of-fact way of the day when his older brother was knifed in the back yard of his home. He remembered the sirens screaming toward them. His words revealed a vivid memory shared with all of us.
Mathew and his classmates struggled with the clash between what they knew to be true in their young lives and the “whites only,” middle class lifestyle in their text. As that long day ended I packed my students’ papers for another night of grading. The distance between my home and Mathew’s was only 45 miles. The distance between my understanding of his world was too vast for me to calculate.
Lynn Moore, Professor of Education
Element 1: Design, implementation, and evaluation of curriculum and experiences.
Design. When first proposed in 2000, the unit’s Diversity Plan set ambitious goals that, if reached, would provide candidates’ with opportunities to acquire the knowledge, skills, and values that could help them teach all learners. Professor Dee Lamb anchored that plan in an extensive knowledge base exploring the many facets of “diversity” drawn from her interviews with representatives of campus and community agencies, from documents offering college and community plans to welcome an increasingly diverse population to our colleges and cities, and her analysis of the many schools and community agencies providing our candidates with field and clinical experiences. Her inquiry, tempered by literature on how to best provide a multicultural education, identified feasible actions offering meaningful outcomes for each of the goals informing the unit’s plan as endorsed by its faculty in November of 2000.
The unit has significantly revised candidates’ curricular, field, and clinical experiences since 2000 to include new learning opportunities that sustain progress toward the goals that form that plan’s first phase as documented in the 2005 progress report. The following summary draws signal events from that report to illustrate our efforts to enable our candidates to help all their students learn.
Goal 1: Develop a diversity focus in the early foundations of education block.
Interim revisions in the unit’s foundation courses between fall 2001 and spring 2004 offered a stronger focus on diversity for prospective candidates until new curricular strategies could be devised and implemented to enhance our pursuit of this first Diversity Plan goal. Those new strategies were realized in the fall 2004 semester when all first year college students considering teaching as a career enrolled in Teaching and Learning in a Diverse World (Education 111). The design of this full semester course moves beyond the “add on” diversity-related content and activities of the previous one-half semester “intro” course to integrate prospective candidates’ learning about their diverse world with experiences as an educational aides working with diverse and at-risk K-12 learners in area schools and community agencies. In the fall of 2005 those who would pursue preparation for the profession will enroll in the first iteration of Human Development: Typical and Exceptional (Education 203), also a full semester course, to begin their exploration of the wide range of human exceptionalities included in today’s diverse K-12 classrooms.
Goal 2:<./em> Increase candidates’ field and clinical experiences in classrooms with diverse learners.
Working within the constraints of a semester-based college schedule, the unit formed its foundations courses for prospective elementary candidates into a “sophomore elementary block” offering 70 hours of field experiences woven within a set of six foundations courses. All prospective elementary candidates now invest 30 hours as aides in area schools and an additional 40 hours in an intense five day supervised residency hosted by one of the unit’s urban school partners (Clinical Experience: Elementary Education, Education 212).
While creating a blocked semester was not feasible for prospective secondary candidates, a successful pilot version of an urban residency for these students encouraged the unit to begin in 2005-2006 to require a similar 40 hour residency in an urban school for all secondary education minors (Clinical Experience: K-12/5-12 Minors; Education 213). When this requirement is fully implemented, participation in these two field experience courses will enable every prospective candidate to observe and teach individuals, small groups, or whole classes in a highly diverse inner city school prior to their acceptance as candidates in preparation for licensure.
Efforts to refine and extend the use of the unit’s electronic Diversity Transcript continue. Since the transcript was introduced in the fall of 2001, technical problems have made it difficult for candidates or faculty to enter their transcripts to record or review descriptions of diversity-related events. Extracting incomplete information to develop reports has also been difficult. Recent improvements may encouraged more frequent use of the transcript.
Goal 3: Increase diversity among faculty and students in our program.
Activities leading the unit toward increasing diverse backgrounds of education faculty, had not, by the close of 2005, been successful. During spring semester of 2003, with two fixed term positions to fill, search committees attempted to reach potential candidates for these positions by listing them with a wider range of organizations (42) and advertising in publications (85) likely read by potential minority candidates. Few such candidates responded. One was invited to campus for an interview on the strength of past teaching experience in diverse settings, but this candidate’s instructional presentation and interview responses ranked below other candidates.
During the spring of 2005, the Diversity Committee reviewed previous recruitment efforts and enhanced the process to be used to invite candidates of color to apply for future opening. This is an appropriate effort given the anticipated retirement of several faculty in the next five years. With multiple opportunities to invite candidates of color to apply for department positions, a refined search process may lead to greater success.
Our informal efforts to attract a more diverse population of teacher candidates encouraged meetings with representatives of the colleges’ joint Admissions offices, beginning in 2003, to explore how the unit’s faculty might work together with that office to successfully invite students of color into our licensure programs. The Diversity Committee, encouraged by these meetings, proposed to invite students from diverse urban high schools such as De LaSalle and Patrick Henry in Minneapolis to visit our colleges and review our licensure programs. As our guests for an overnight visit, students with an interest in teaching would attend Education classes, be escorted by Education Club students, and participate in either sports or fine arts events. As planning revealed the great number of people and offices that would have to be involved in such an event, the committee delayed its proposal until the fall semester of 2005.
Recalling the two colleges’ strategic commitment to “become more racially/ethnically, geographically, and socio-economically diverse in support of their aspiration to provide a premier liberal arts learning experience,” (Strategic Directions 2010, p.15), the unit invited the colleges to consider providing full scholarships for minority students who have the capability and interest in pursuing a teaching career. The money needed for such scholarships is not yet available, although proposals for external funding have been made with the assistance of the colleges’ development offices.
Fall of 2004 found students of color enrolled in our more diverse collaborating and cooperating area middle schools coming to our colleges on weekends to mentor younger children of color under the guidance of the unit’s teacher candidates. This pilot program, developed by other college organizations, offered opportunities for middle school students to experience teaching others in the hope that a successful mentoring relationship might encourage them to set preparation for teaching as their career goal.
During the coming year one of the unit’s faculty members will teach a Core Curriculum Symposium enrolling several students from the college’s new Intercultural, Leadership, Education, and Development Program. These 13 scholarship students, all but one from minority cultures, have a history of academic achievement, involvement as leaders in community organizations, and understand diversity issues. This program may offer another avenue for enrolling and supporting students from diverse cultural and ethnic groups, some of whom may wish to prepare for the teaching profession.
Goal 4: Ensure more pluralistic thinking among students and faculty in our licensure programs
One facet of our work toward this goal began in the spring of 2000 with a survey of what the unit’s faculty included in their courses, field, and clinical experiences. The survey, repeated in the fall of 2003, sought information on the kinds of diversity initiatives evident in each course and experience. Faculty responded by describing resources and activities in six categories: books and media, specific diversity content, theories of multicultural education/pluralistic thinking, adapted pedagogies, and experiences and assignments. A comparison of the two data sets revealed that with increased time and expectations, the unit’s faculty were introducing diversity themes in noticeably more intentional and comprehensive ways.
Theories of multicultural education or pluralistic thinking explored in the unit’s courses and experiences include those advanced by Ruby Payne, James Banks, and the Gender Equity theorists. They inform the content of Tier One foundation courses (Education 111, 212/213, 310), the Tier Two Mid-Level Literacy and Pedagogy course devised for each licensure program (Education 358) and the capstone Tier Three Human Relations (Education 390), where candidates apply their understanding of such theories in the design of multicultural instructional units. Student teachers are expected to demonstrate their pluralistic thinking about the population of students they are serving as they plan, implement, and assess their performance. Theories of multicultural education are thus introduced in foundations courses, elaborated in methods courses, and employed by the unit’s candidates in clinical settings. The Diversity Committee’s findings are included in A Brief Report on Diversity Course Initiatives prepared in the spring of 2004 and in the 2005 Diversity Plan review. Additional documentation describing the diversity efforts is included in the Partnership Plan progress report.
Curricular changes since the spring 2004 survey encouraged a third, briefer survey during the spring semester of 2005. This survey assessed where, and how thoroughly, theories of pluralistic thinking were addressed throughout the curriculum. While analysis of its findings is not yet complete, preliminary review of faculty responses confirms that our new courses continue to offer a strong focus on a range of multicultural pluralism.
Goal 5: Increase unit faculty and staff knowledge about minority groups and their cultures.
Progress toward this goal began in the fall 2003 by extending informal efforts of individual faculty to become more knowledgeable about ethnic and racial minorities. Unit faculty and staff increased their “personal knowledge base” for this goal by reading Beverly Tatum’s Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria and Ann Fadimin’s The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down.
Drawing on support from the colleges’ faculty development fund, the unit has sponsored a series of annual workshops and invited presentations by area experts on diversity-related concerns. The unit’s spring 2004 workshop, for example, offered our faculty and teachers in our partner schools an opportunity to look more closely at how we might support the English Language Learners (ELL) in our classrooms with the experience and guidance of the Saint Paul Public Schools Director of ELL programs. Our spring 2005 workshop found unit and partner faculty exploring Native American culture, spirituality and educational issues with Winona LaDuke, a Native American activist living on a central Minnesota reservation and a past candidate for national office. The unit’s Diversity Committee has proposed that the colleges continue this initiative with financial support for a spring 2006 consultation with Dr. Jose Bourget. The unit first worked with Bourget in 1995 to prepare the foundation for its diversity initiative. During his proposed workshop Bourget would review our pursuit of a “polycentric” model of education in preparation for the renewal of our diversity plan. During the spring of 2007 workshop we hope to learn more about the educational needs of children in Central Minnesota’s schools who come from the Hmong homeland in South East Asia as well as those who have immigrated from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.
Goal 6:. Learn about and use pedagogies that give all learners opportunities to learn
Review of course syllabi and licensure program documentation will confirm that the unit’s faculty conscientiously use and teach a broad array of pedagogies. The challenge before us now is to systematically relate that array to what we are discovering about diverse learners. We are discovering that intra-group differences in response to varied teaching strategies and techniques may be greater than inter-group differences. Activities leading us to this goal are summarized in our brief 2003 report on Diversity Course Initiatives which indicated at that time that “virtually all program course instructors report spending at least some, and sometimes a great deal, of class time on this topic.”
Tier Two teaching methods courses offer candidates guidance in the selection and use of a broad range of pedagogies suited to different learners. For example, Professor Knaus offers students enrolled in his Mid Level Literacy and Pedagogy for Mathematics (Education 358) opportunities to affirm their understanding of ways to thinking about teaching and learning with diverse learners including Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, Vygotsky’s “ZPD,” James Banks’ multicultural theory, Ruby Payne’s theory on the role of poverty, Bloom’s Taxonomy and its role in higher-order thinking, Sadker & Sadker on the role of gender in education, and the studies sponsored by the AAUW and others on the experiences of girls in education. In this pedagogy course students are required to plan and teach with these theories in mind, both explicitly in their lesson plans and also in their written rationales for those plans. During the debriefing that follows the field experience at Saint Boniface, candidates and their instructor examine the underlying theoretical rationales, their own and their host/mentor teacher’s classroom teaching.
The second phase in the implementation of our diversity plan focuses on Tier Two teaching methods or pedagogy courses as well as the Tier Three “capstone” courses and clinical experiences. The goal for this second phase is to examine our own teaching with respect to use of pluralistic models in the unit’s pedagogy courses to ensure that there are no gaps in our attempts to deal with diversity issues. Activities leading us toward this goal began in the fall of 2003 with a series of curricular revisions in the “methods” or pedagogy courses forming the second tier of the unit’s curriculum. In October of 2003, the Teacher Education Council approved replacing Education 354 (Middle Level Literacy and Pedagogy, 2 credits) and Education 357 (Middle Level Learners, 2 credits) with multiple sections of Education 358 (Middle Level Learners and Pedagogy, 4 credits) in each of four areas supporting middle level (grades 5-8) licensure for both K-6 and K-12 / 5-12 candidates (natural science, social science, language arts, mathematics). Initiated in the fall of 2004, each section of Education 358 is now taught by a subject-matter specialist. Our belief is that a four credit course will afford greater opportunities to explore a larger range of pedagogies for diverse learners. As we find ways to incorporate a stronger focus on teaching diverse learners in all our courses, these “middle level learner” courses will provide all our candidates with knowledge and skills that will enhance their instructional effectiveness with all students.
While pursuit of a “domestic study abroad” remains an attractive option, we have tabled our efforts to establish a collaborative relationship with a college serving minority teacher candidates in hopes of developing semester-long candidate exchange programs. During the 2001-2002 academic year we proposed this concept to Xavier University’s Dean of Education, finding strong interest but difficulty in moving our initial proposal forward.
We continue to explore this idea with other institutions, most recently with LINK Community School and Saint Benedict’s Preparatory School, both located in Newark, New Jersey. In the spring of 2004 the unit chairperson, S. Ann Marie Biermaier, began approached Saint David’s School in New Orleans to discuss hosting our student teaches at this K-8 inner city school. During the summer of 2004, Del Brobst, Director of K-12 and 5-12 Student Teaching, reviewed several possible sites that could provide our candidates seeking student teaching opportunities in Europe with the high level of supervision and curricular guidance they enjoy in Minnesota. Three high schools, one in Germany and a two in Austria, expressed willingness to mentor student teachers from our program.
Implementation of Phase Three of the unit’s Diversity Plan will deal with the experiences that synthesize curricular learning, including our Core Curriculum Senior Seminar, Human Relations (Education 390, 4 credits), Issues in Education (Education 359, 1 credit), and elementary and secondary level student teaching (Education 361, 362, 363; 16 credits). As we implement this third phase, we will also begin planning for a renewed diversity plan to guide our work as we approach the next decade. The goal for this Phase Three is to monitor our efforts to ensure that the characteristics and needs of diverse learners are addressed in all the necessary places in our curriculum using reasonable methods that reflect our mission and conceptual framework. Activities leading us toward this goal could include gathering and examining the data on the success of our planned diversity course initiatives. Early information seems to suggest that revisions guided by the first two phases may be moving us further toward what we once envisioned as a distant outcome. Individual faculty members have made substantial changes in their course requirements to ensure that diversity is addressed in every segment of the curriculum (foundations, methods, and capstone experiences). Our student teachers, for example, must now reveal how they have explicitly planned and integrated support for their learners’ diversity within the design and delivery of their instructional units (teacher work sample) as documented in their portfolios. Drawing from their experiences, we will hope to learn more about how our graduates in their first years of practice respond to the challenge of teaching diverse learners.
We have now taken many steps, some small and others quite large, on the ambitious path marked our by our Diversity Plan. Subsequent phases leading toward full implementation will continue over the next several years. A review of the unit’s diversity plan will reveal detailed descriptions of design activities that, if accomplished, may well lead the unit and its candidates through what McIntosh (1990) defines as a multicultural “phase four” curriculum. If we persist in the pursuit of our goals, we may realize Jose Bourget’s notions of a polycentric educational transformation (1995), thereby approaching McIntosh’s “phase five” where “the distribution of resources, services, and basic supports requires balanced use” by the citizens of a multicultural world who “feel they belong in contingent affiliation with life everywhere” in one interdependent global community (pp.12; 17).
I worked with a student whose family was homeless. His behavior and general attitude were so drastically different from the other students! I never realized before this experience how crucial it is for students to have a stable home life in order to learn. I realized very quickly that I had to provide extra attention and support for this student. Because of this experience I will be better able to work with similar students.
Student Teacher, Lincoln Elementary, 2005
The preparation of candidates to teach “students with diverse backgrounds and exceptionalities” is grounded in the unit’s aim, mission, and philosophy. These elements of its conceptual model support the unit’s third program goal; “our candidates, recognizing how differences among students can influence their learning, make instructional decisions that reflect their students’ backgrounds and exceptionalities.” This goal is supported by a knowledge base that serves as foundation of theory, research, and practice to inform the unit’s faculty and candidates (Knowledge Base for Teacher Education, Goal 3).
All teacher preparation programs approved by Minnesota’s Board of Teaching to recommend candidates for licensure as teachers must provide those candidates with opportunities to know, to apply, and to be assessed on The Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice for Teachers (MSEPT). That set of necessary and sufficient professional and pedagogical outcomes includes 17 enabling standards intended to describe how programs might help their candidates’ “know how students differ in their approaches to learning and create instructional opportunities that are adapted to students with diverse backgrounds and exceptionalities (Standard 3). External review of the unit’s curriculum by Minnesota’s Board of Teaching confirmed that elementary and secondary candidates encounter frequent opportunities to know, to apply, and to be assessed on each of these enabling standards (Program Approval Documentation: Standards of Effective Practice, 2000). Further review by the unit’s Diversity Committee affirms candidates’ opportunities to know, apply, and be assessed on their acquisition of knowledge, skills, and values which will enable them to respond to the needs of a diverse population of students (Course Initiatives).
Guided by relevant standards and supported by its conceptual framework, the unit’s faculty offer a wide range of focused opportunities for students to acquire and refine their abilities to “help all students reach their full potential as persons and as responsible world citizens in a democratic society” (Conceptual Framework, Model). Those who are considering teaching as their future profession will enroll in Tier One courses offering a foundation of knowledge, skills, and values on which they may begin to build their emerging practice.
Just as Minnesota’s population is changing toward greater racial and cultural diversity, our neighboring city of Saint Cloud is rapidly moving in the same direction. In the past decade learners enrolled in its K-12 schools have increased from an average of 3% in what were then “diverse” schools to 26 % in Lincoln Elementary. All candidates complete a second fieldwork experience in this transforming community when they enroll in the Tier Two Mid Level Literacy and Pedagogy (Education 358) course for their licensure program. Two mid-level courses illustrate the contribution of this second field experience in candidates’ preparation.
As candidates enter the unit’s Tier Three or “capstone” courses they have a final opportunity to explore their knowledge and values related to teaching diverse learners as they complete Human Relations (Education 390) prior to beginning their clinical experience as student teachers.
Evaluation. How might we judge the success of activities guided by the goals of the unit’s Diversity Plan? Have these efforts helped student teachers’ develop “strategies for improving student learning and the candidates’ effectiveness as teachers” (Professional Standards, p.31)? While instructors offer formative judgments of candidates’ work in foundations or methods courses, the success of their efforts may be revealed in summative judgments on key dimensions of these candidates’ clinical performance.
Tables III.4.1 and III.4.2 offer ratings derived from selected unit and state standards included in Student Teaching Performance Profiles developed for the unit’s assessment system. These profiles provide one perspective on the unit’s efforts to prepare candidates to successfully teach students from diverse backgrounds as well as learners with exceptional qualities. That perspective describes the support our candidates provide for their diverse learners
Rubrics are reproduced in the Unit Assessment System;Appendix C.2
On the whole, observations of their teaching and review of their portfolio materials suggest that the candidates included in these profiles successfully arranged instructional occasions likely to encourage their diverse and exceptional students’ learning (“proficient” performance, Level 3). Review of candidates’ work samples further supports this finding (see Standard I, Candidate Knowledge, Student Learning). A comprehensive examination of candidates’ portfolios and work samples appears in a supporting document, Student Teaching Portfolio Review (2005).
Review of these candidates’ student teaching portfolios reveals descriptions of student diversity and exceptionality as well as their responses to their learners’ needs. Nearly all 2004-2005 candidates recorded opportunities to work with one or more learners having diagnosed or reported exceptionalities (98%; 93 of 95 candidates). Most secondary and elementary candidates recorded opportunities to work with learners whose race, culture, or ethnicity was different from their own (81%, 77 of 95). Nearly all elementary candidates taught children living in poverty (98%, 44 of 45), a condition as prevalent in a small rural town as in an urban metropolis (see Table III.4.8)
I came to realize how working with students from racial, cultural, and ethnicity backgrounds has influenced me in becoming a better teacher. The diverse experiences these students brought into my classroom have only enriched my life. Their unique personalities enabled me to adjust my teaching style and lesson plans.
Student Teacher, Lincoln Elementary, 2005
Element 2: Experiences Working with a Diverse Faculty.
The unit’s Diversity Plan calls for renewed efforts to attract and retain a diverse faculty (Goal 3, Objective 2). This intention is consistent with the plans advanced by our colleges to increase employment of minority group members. During the fall semester of 1999 the colleges employed a total of 29 people of colors other than white (29 of 835, 3%; CSB: 17 of 423, 4%; SJU: 12 of 412, 3%). As Table III.4.3 suggests, our institutions may have lost ground in the intervening years. During the 2004-2005 academic year our two colleges employed 23 men and women from all ethnic groups other than white. The unit lost one staff member of color in the fall of 2001.
Note: The unit does not offer advanced licensure programs. No information (NI) is available for faculty reporting more than one race.
Efforts to increase the diversity of the unit’s faculty and staff are described in the Diversity Plan’s progress report. In the years ahead, should enrollment remain steady, retiring faculty and staff will present new opportunities to implement revised search procedures as described in that plan. The location of the colleges in a rural area with small towns and cities offering modest racial or cultural diversity has discouraged many prospective minority faculty from accepting positions with out colleges. We draw encouragement from a significant increase in the number of people from diverse cultures who are choosing to make their homes in central Minnesota. This trend may enhance our renewed efforts to attract diverse faculty to our colleges and unit.
The unit’s faculty, in response to this deficiency, strives to become ever more knowledgeable about and sensitive to the need to prepare candidates to teach all students. Individually and as a group, all have enriched their knowledge and experience through study and work in diverse settings. They attend conferences and workshops sponsored by the unit, our colleges, and by community groups. They participate in events designed to enlarge their experience in living and working with people from many racial, ethnic, or cultural groups as revealed in their Diversity Transcript entries. The unit is also fortunate to have experienced K-12 master teachers working with our candidates as members of the unit’s faculty and college supervisors of student teachers. Their work with diverse learners in their K-12 schools is a reservoir of experience that nourishes the teaching of their peers.
Element 3: Experiences Working with Diverse Candidates
Although majority culture candidates have opportunities to work with peers from diverse backgrounds and exceptionalities, those opportunities are infrequent despite our colleges’ success in enrolling more students of color each year. During the 1999-2000 academic year the two colleges invited 225 members of racial or ethnic groups to join the 3578 white men and women in the student body (3%:). Information included in Table III.4.4 confirms that in the past academic year our colleges enrolled a total of 307 individuals identified as members of a group other than “White, non Hispanic,” 7.5% of the all enrolled students. These college students come to us from homes in the Minneapolis and Saint Paul metropolitan area (48% of all first year students) or central Minnesota (26%), the two regions served by our colleges and in which most of the unit’s candidates will begin their teaching careers (Institutional Profile 2004, Table 9).
Note:Population estimates for the Saint Cloud metropolitan area are based on 2003 data for the three counties (Benton, Sherburne and Stearns) provided by the Minnesota State Demographic Center. Estimates for the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and Saint Paul) metropolitan area is based on the Minnesota State Demographic Center’s 2005 projections for Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington Counties. No Information (NI) was provided for individuals reporting two or more races.
Our plan specifies activities that could increase the unit’s enrollment of minority students over the next five years (Goal 1, Objective 1). During the past academic year we welcomed 11 candidates who identified themselves as members of minority groups, about 2% of all candidates. We expect to continue to work with admissions officers and the two colleges’ diversity staff to identify and encourage minority students to attend our colleges and pursue acceptance as candidates for licensure.
Element 4: Experiences Working with Diverse Students in P-12 Schools
This experience opened me up to a world of economic, cultural, language, and ethnic diversity. I was able to embrace these diversities and inform myself and my students of the diversity that surrounds us. Because we informed ourselves together, it reduced prejudice and created a warm, inviting, friendly atmosphere.
Student Teacher, Madison Elementary, 2005
Candidates enjoy the opportunity to complete their clinical experiences in each of two school settings in their roles as student teachers. The unit has negotiated with its collaborating and cooperating school partners to provide classrooms and experienced K-12 cooperating teachers to guide its candidates during their first professional teaching assignments.Table III.4.5 summarizes the ethnic and socioeconomic characteristics of clinical sits that welcomed our candidates as student teachers during the 2004-2005 academic year.
The range of diversity revealed in the foregoing tabulation for schools providing clinical experiences during the past academic year is quite large. Schools in the Minneapolis and Saint Paul metropolitan area reveal the highest percentage of diverse learners in all categories, followed by Saint Cloud public schools. Clinical sites in the rural areas near the colleges are the least diverse. Poverty is common in both rural and urban schools. As more people immigrate to Saint Cloud and into rural areas, opportunities for candidates to work with diverse learners in those areas will increase.
The majority culture that dominates central Minnesota, confirmed by information included in the preceding table, claims most of our candidates and their college faculty. The unit’s Diversity Plan is one response to that claim, encouraging the design of courses and field work which might balance our majority culture with knowledge and experience of the many other cultures that nourish Minnesota’s growing population of K-12 learners. In an educational setting rich with opportunities to learn about others, analysis of candidates’ electronic diversity transcripts offers an attractive way to document the range and focus of prospective teachers’ efforts to learn about and work with others whose race, culture, or ethnicity is different from
Introduced during the fall of 2001 for all students and unit faculty to use to record the ways they learned about and worked with diverse K-12 learners, the full promise of the diversity transcript has yet to be realized. Difficulties with accessing and entering diversity information, at times for extended periods, discouraged many candidates from recording their experiences. Recent revisions, fortunately, have improved the usefulness of this self-report indicator of candidates’ involvement with diverse and exceptional learners
Table III.4.7 offers similar information for the range of candidates’ experiences with exceptional learners. Both tabulations suggest the extent of candidates’ significant investment in working with and learning about a wide range of diverse learners.
As it was not possible to include descriptive annotations for entered experiences until spring 2005, we know little about these investments other than the dates on which they occurred, their classification, and the course they might support. Conversations with candidates suggest that a very wide range of events is represented in these tables. Some have entered their hours of work at summer camps devoted to children with disabilities. One entered hours spent attending a play focused on conflicts between Somali and African-American teenagers. Another recorded the hours spent reading and discussing a book recounting America’s civil rights era. All are legitimate entries illustrating the range of events included in these totals.
Elementary (K-6/5-8) and secondary (K-12/5-12) candidates’ portfolios include detailed descriptions of student diversity and exceptionality encountered during their clinical sites. Nearly all candidates completing their clinical experiences as student teachers recorded opportunities to work with one or more learners having diagnosed or suspected exceptionalities. Most of these candidates also recorded opportunities to work with learners during at least one of their two clinical rotations whose race, culture, or ethnicity was different from their own. Nearly all elementary candidates reported students from poverty in their classrooms. The information is summarized in Table III.4.8 is drawn from an audit of candidates student teaching portfolios.
Candidates’ work in courses and field experiences designed to prepare them for the challenges they will face as they teach in diverse classrooms offers one perspective from which to view the unit’s success in designing, implementing, and evaluating the diversity “strand” running throughout its curriculum. Candidates’ motivation to learn about and work with diverse learners as implied by events recorded in their diversity transcripts provides another such perspective. Evidence of having successfully met the challenge of teaching diverse learners to acquire meaningful knowledge and skills, as documented in student teachers’ portfolios offers clearer, more direct evidence that the unit has found ways to encourage its candidates “to acquire and apply the knowledge, skills and dispositions necessary to help all students learn” (Professional Standards, p. 29)
When I returned to Red Lake, Minnesota, in 2000, trees along the forest roads that first September morning were showing the first hints of autumn. I looked forward to spending my sabbatical in the community where I began my teaching practice. I wondered about the changes that thirty years might have brought. I knew that the textbooks children use today represent a rich diversity of people and cultures who are part of a very different society than the America of 1969.
As I walked down the school’s hallways, I saw posters of the American Indian artist Partrick Desjarlait, who grew up in Red Lake. Classroom shelves were now filled with books about Native Americans, not stories of life on Cherry Street.
The school now looked more as if it belonged here. Yet sometimes things need to go deeper. My observations of the curriculum found little to reflect the uniqueness of the Red Lake Nation that might be shared with this generation of Saint Mary’s children. The school counselor, Vicky Graves, lamented that she felt as if, “Nobody listens to our children in this school.
I soon learned that she was a fervent advocate of a holistic approach to education that would enable these Ojibway children to experience success as they were taught by their culture in their own school. She knew that if we were to really listen to these children and to the voice of their culture, we would know that they are uncomfortable when we call on them to answer our questions. If we really listened to these children, we would know that their culture teaches them to remain silent until they are certain that what they say is right. If we really listened, we would create opportunities for them to work together to help each other learn. If we really listened, we wise teachers would not fight but rather grow with the strong sense of community that binds all Indian people. Now, miles away from Saint Mary’s, just as I remember Mathew’s story from thirty years before, I also remember Vicky’s words in my heart.
Lynn Moore, Professor of Education
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Education Department Conceptual Framework: Teacher as decision-maker. (2000). Saint Joseph, MN: College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University.
Education Department Diversity Plan: Progress Toward Our Goals. (2005). Saint Joseph, MN: College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University.
Knowledge Base for Beginning Teachers. (2004) Saint Joseph, MN: College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, Education Department.
McIntosh, P. (1990). Interactive Phases of Curricular and Personal Re-Vision with Regard to Race. Wellesley, MA: Wellesley College Center for Research on Women. (#219)
Professional Standards for the Accreditation of Schools, Colleges, and Departments of Education.(2002). Washington, D.C.: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
Program Approval Documentation: Minnesota standards of effective practice for teachers. (2000). Saint Joseph, MN.: College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, Education Department.
Strategic Directions 2010; Discussion Document. (2004) Collegeville, MN. College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University.
Student Teaching Portfolio Review. (2005). Saint Joseph, MN. College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, Education Department.
Last Revised 30 July 2005