Culturally Responsive Training of Teacher Educators

Fall 2009

Source: Action in Teacher Education, v. 31 no. 3, Fall 2009, p. 19-27
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Given that the numbers of culturally and/or linguistically diverse (CLD) students being educated in U.S. public schools are growing immensely, teacher educators must take responsibility for preparing teacher candidates to work in today's diverse classrooms.
This can be difficult, however, if teacher educators are not culturally responsive in their curricular content and pedagogy. Teacher educators could benefit from engaging in professional development in this area.

In this article, the author discusses the professional literature on culturally responsive higher education training. The author focuses on the intended outcomes of professional development, including faculty knowledge, skills, and dispositions.


The following two outcomes have been advocated in the literature.
Value diversity. Teacher educators will not have a positive effect on preservice teachers' beliefs about diversity if they themselves do not value diversity and then exemplify the values they espouse (Tatto, 1996).
Self-reflection of personal cultural values, beliefs, and attitudes. Most prospective teachers enter preparation programs unfamiliar with their own cultural values and stereotypical knowledge of the culture of others (Hoover, Klinger, Baca, & Patton, 2008). Self-reflection is often used in teacher preparation programs to develop self-awareness. Self-reflection is important not only for teacher candidates but also for faculty members, who must examine their own backgrounds that shaped their cultural values, beliefs, and attitudes.


Furthermore, teacher educators also need to assume knowledge about diversity and how it affects the schools for which they are preparing future teachers. The author selected three critical concepts that most directly affect teacher candidates, which the literature suggests should be included in teacher education professional development.

Diversity standards. Teacher educators need to know the standards for diversity as defined by professional associations, accreditation organizations, and states. They should be familiar with standards within the operations of the teacher education program (e.g., recruitment and retention of diverse teacher candidates and faculty), as well as with diversity standards for teacher candidates (e.g., culturally responsive teaching practices).

Role of first language and culture in learning. Children develop the language that is used in their home environment, and they bring it to the classroom. This rich knowledge provides the basis for further language development, the means for acquiring concepts, and an important aspect of their identities (Clayton, Barnhardt, & Brisk, 2008). Faculty must acquire an understanding of language and cultural effects on CLD learners such that they are better able to embed that knowledge within their courses.

Instructional practices for CLD learners. All teachers need to learn effective teaching practices for CLD students.


Teacher educators need knowledge and dispositions, but they also must be capable of infusing multicultural perspective into the curriculum, modeling skills (specifically, effective teaching practices), and creating open and safe classroom environments.

Culturally Responsive Development Activities

Once the intended outcomes for professional development have been established, activities that best meet these outcomes can be designed and implemented.

Activities may include attendance at conferences, self-directed projects, discussion groups, consultation with experts, workshops, reflection activities, and so forth (Nevarez-La Torre, Sanford-DeShields, Soundy, Leonard, & Woyshner, 2008).

The author concludes that although the author presents several ideas of intended outcomes and activities, there is yet to be a consensus on the most effective model of professional development activities for teacher educators.

Clayton, C., Barnhardt, R., & Brisk, M. E. (2008). Language, culture, and identity. In M. E. Brisk (Ed.), Language, culture, and community in teacher education (pp. 21-45). New York: Erlhaum.

Hoover, J. J., Klingner, J. K., Baca, L. M., & Patton, J. M. (2008). Methods for teaching culturally and linguistically diverse exceptional learners. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.

Nevarez-La Torre, A. A., Sanford-DeShields, J. S., Soundy, C., Leonard, J., & Woyshner, C. (2008). Faculty perspectives on integrating linguistic diversity issues into an urban teacher education program. In M. E. Brisk (Ed.), Language, culture, and community in teacher education (pp. 267-312). New York: Erlbaum.

Tatto, M. T. (1996). Examining values and beliefs about teaching diverse students: Understanding the challenges for teacher education. Educational Evaluation and Polio Analysis, 18(2), 155-180.

Updated: Aug. 29, 2010