Source: Action in Teacher Education, Vol. 38, No. 3, 226-239, 2016
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article aims to describe pedagogical practices used by teacher educators who prepare teachers to be culturally responsive.
The authors, who are teacher educators themselves, recognize the challenges associated with teaching about issues of diversity and facilitating preservice teachers’ (PSTs) acquisition of culturally relevant pedagogy.
The authors integrate between culturally relevant pedagogy and a framework for diversity awareness and identity development. They are interested in supporting teacher educators who yearn to prepare culturally responsive PSTs.
The authors argue that teacher educators who seek to nurture culturally responsive educators need to focus on their own identity development and cultural competence. These teacher educators should be personally committed to fostering opportunities to advance PSTs’ understanding of working with students who are culturally diverse.
The authors focus on three practices:
1. Establishing a Positive Classroom Learning Environment
Instructors should establish a positive classroom learning environment at the beginning of any course of study. The authors say that learning occurs within the social context of a classroom. They argue that the establishment of a positive classroom environment is a vital element of culturally responsive teaching. Once rules and communication guidelines are well established, the instructor can then turn attention to activities that continue to build relationships, promote cooperation, and encourage self-reflection.
2. Implementing Purposeful Learning Activities
The authors claim that activities that PSTs engage in during their coursework can also facilitate their growth in diversity awareness. The activities also encourage PSTs to understand and critique the existing social order. In turn, PSTs may be better equipped to do the same for their own P-12 students.
3. Providing Appropriate Field Experiences with a Focus on Diversity
The authors argue that clinical experiences help prepare PSTs to work with all learners. Hence, these experiences should take place throughout a course of study in a variety of high-quality school- and community-based settings. These experiences should also include virtual experiences and simulations. However, many teacher educators report PSTs have difficulty converting what they learn about diversity in their preparation courses into practice.
The authors argue that some components of preparation programs are impactful. These components include providing PSTs with varied opportunities for reflection about issues of social justice and diversity. Furthermore, these components create structured field experiences that place PSTs in community and school settings culturally different from their own. In these settings, PSTs can where they can identify and build upon P-12 students’ linguistic and cultural assets while simultaneously addressing issues of discrimination.
The authors conclude that teacher educators and colleges of education should commit to preparing teachers who are culturally responsive who have the knowledge and skills necessary to not only meet the needs of a diverse P-12 student body, but also to sustain the linguistic, literate, and cultural plurality of the students in the classrooms.