Teach Your Teachers Well
At CSB/SJU, great educators make an impact in every department. But their impact is especially clear in the Education Department – where those great educators are shaping tomorrow’s great educators. For Terri Rodriguez, associate professor of education, some of the most important lessons her students will learn involve diversity and inclusion.
As the Center for Public Education explains it, “Changing patterns of fertility and immigration have put the United States on a short road to a population diversity never before experienced by any nation – a population in which all races and ethnicities are part of minority groups that make up a complex whole.” According to Terri, inclusion in the classroom is “engaging with that diversity. But it’s also looking at ways we create access to opportunities and equity.” Her pedagogy of inclusion puts an emphasis on self-reflection for the educator. “Instead of thinking, ‘I need to make accommodations,’ it involves, ‘I also have to look at my own background and see how that’s shaping my students’ experience.’ ” She explored many of these themes in the book she co-authored, Supporting Muslim Students: A Guide to Understanding the Diverse Issues of Today’s Classrooms. Terri’s hope for her students is “that they don’t just tolerate diversity – or appreciate diversity – or even honor diversity. I want them to engage with diversity in a way that opens the curriculum to change.” Lauren Thoma '14, a teacher at Apollo High School in St. Cloud, looks back and sees the impact of Terri’s influence. “Professors like Terri have broadened my perspective on my diverse students and enriched my strategies for supporting them. I believe advocating for students is one of the most important jobs of an educator, and I’m certain Terri was a major asset in shaping that belief.”