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Annie Mason writes op-ed challenging critics of racial justice education in Star Tribune

Annie Mason, Program Director of Elementary Teacher Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, published an op-ed in the Star Tribune as a counterpoint to Katherine Kersten’s article, “Racial identity policies are ruining Edina’s fabled schools,” on the Edina school district’s new “All for All” plan, which Kersten blames for lowered test results in Edina schools.

Kersten alleges the new plan shifts the  district leaders’ educational philosophy from “academic excellence for all” to ensuring “that students think correctly on social and political issues.” She argues that the new racial justice-geared agenda creates a hostile environment for students with “nonconforming views,” and does nothing to improve test scores or foster high academic performance in the district.

Mason challenged these ideas in her op-ed, ” Counterpoint: Edina schools: why it’s crucial to unlearn racism.” She discusses the way white privilege has shaped our country’s education system since its conception, the learning limitations placed on students of all races, and the importance of maintaining a dialogue about race in our schools. “[Students] know that to change the future, we have to reckon with the past,” Mason writes. “To unlearn racism, we have to be willing to face what it is, what it has created and how we are all implicated in it.”

Learn more about The Department of Curriculum and Instruction’s teacher education programs  and our commitment to equity in education.

 

Aspiring English teacher and first-generation American Quynh Van wants to reshape the discussion on race in the classroom

Quynh-Huong Nguyen Van is a senior majoring in English enrolled in the DirecTrack to Teaching program. She shares her hopes of shaping the conversation about race in America with students, becoming an English teacher, and how being a first-generation American will help her as a teacher.

What do you hope to accomplish as a teacher?

I want to be a teacher because it’s more than teaching a subject you are passionate about, but also about creating a safe space for students to be themselves and to grow intellectually. I also believe racism is a serious issue in America today and want to play my small part in helping to reshape the way we view race by incorporating discussions about racism and society into my classroom. I cannot think of a better setting to facilitate this than English classrooms; especially since many literary works can be used as a vehicle to help students see truth through fiction and to help students build empathy for other people by getting to know characters and authors.

What strengths do you think you will bring to the classroom? 

I believe one of my greatest assets as a future educator is my Vietnamese-American background. I feel my first-generation immigrant experiences have given me unique perspectives that will allow me to be a more empathetic and inclusive teacher

What has been your experience with the DirecTrack faculty?

My experience with my DirecTrack advisors over the last three years has been absolutely phenomenal. They have always been understanding and supportive of not only my academic work, but also my personal endeavors. My DirecTrack advisors have proven to be some of the strongest faculty relationships I have cultivated at the University.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I imagine myself in a classroom, more adept at my job than my first year of teaching, and hopefully being an advisor for a school club like speech or directing the school play.

What’s been your favorite course so far?

My favorite course has been ENGL3601: Analysis of the English Language, an intro-level linguistics course focusing on the English language. It is a course that is required for my major as well as a prerequisite for the Master’s in Education and Initial Teaching license in English program. I initially only took the class because it was required, but it quickly became my one of my favorites. The class felt like I was applying chemistry or math to the study of the English language; I found the class to be a breath of fresh air!

Any other thoughts you want to share about your experience?

Through DirecTrack, I have been able to have many meaningful service-learning experiences, make great friends who are as dedicated about teaching as I am, and have found a community I feel I belong in.

Learn more about the DirecTrack to Teaching program and the M.Ed. and Initial Teaching License programs in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

 

GIFTED program receives $35,000 grant from Newman’s Own Foundation

this year's GIFTED cohort
This year’s GIFTED cohort

The Ghanaian Institute for the Future of Teaching & Education (GIFTED) Women’s Fellowship Fostering program has been awarded a $35,000 grant from Newman’s Own Foundation, the independent foundation created by the late actor and philanthropist, Paul Newman. The award to the GIFTED program was made by Newman’s Own Foundation as part of its commitment to the empowerment of individuals.

The grant to GIFTED will be used to host a national educational conference in Accra, Ghana that showcases the leadership projects and impact the 36 GIFTED Fellows have made in their schools and communities. In addition, the funding will be used to continue to support the leadership network that is being overseen by the University of Education at Winneba.

Focused on strengthening the leadership capacity and visibility of female educators as leaders within the Ghanaian public education system, GIFTED provides professional development, ongoing support, and leadership training to 12 women educators per year. These GIFTED fellows participate in a year-long transformational leadership curriculum, where they develop and implement action projects that support educational outcomes in their schools.

GIFTED was started in June 2013 and is a collaboration between New York University (NYU), the University of Minnesota, the University of Education Winneba, and Mujeres por Africa and is sponsored by Banco Santander.

Dr. Rose Vukovic, director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Educational Psychology and associate professor in the special education program at the University of Minnesota is co-principal investigator on the project, which is led by Kristie Patten Koenig, co-principal investigator from NYU. Local partners are Sakina Aquah and Priscilla Yaaba Ackah from the University of Education, Winneba.

CEHD embeds educational equity skills in teacher education curriculum

The College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) created the Teacher Education Redesign Initiative (TERI) in 2010 to better prepare teachers for the challenges they face in a 21st century classroom. In the seven years since TERI began, CEHD has made important changes to the teacher preparation curriculum. One of these changes is a new emphasis on teaching “dispositions,” which describe the relational skills that teachers need to connect with their students, families, and communities.

By teaching relational skills, helping teachers understand the impact of their own racial identity on their students, CEHD helps teacher candidates develop the knowledge, skills, and mindsets they need to foster educational equity in their classrooms.

Learn more in this blog post from Misty Sato, associate professor and Campbell Chair for Innovation in Teacher Development.

Vukovic, colleagues host leadership institute for Ghanaian female educators

this year's GIFTED cohort
This year’s GIFTED cohort

From May 29 to June 6, Rose Vukovic, director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Educational Psychology  and associate professor in the special education program at the University of Minnesota and Kristie Patten Koenig, associate professor and chair of Occupational Therapy at New York University (NYU)–Steinhardt—along with Sakina Aquah and Priscilla Yaaba Ackah from University of Education, Winneba—hosted a leadership institute for a group of female teachers from Ghana. The work is part of the Ghanaian Institute for the Future of Teaching and Education (GIFTED) which is supported by the larger Ghana Wins! project, a professional development program that aims to build capacity in women leaders in education.

This year’s GIFTED cohort attended a week-long workshop in New York City to analyze the results of their leadership action projects to support educational outcomes in Ghanaian schools. They visited local schools and participated in “coffee talks” with NYU faculty on women and leadership. The educators also had the opportunity experience American culture by doing things like eating pizza, taking the subway, and visiting the Statue of Liberty.  The culmination of their training happened on June 2 when they sharing the resulted of their leadership action projects in an educational symposium at NYU –Steinhardt. Here are just a few examples of the work they are doing in Ghanaian schools.

  • Slimba, head teacher, Supporting Education for Muslim Girls: Slimba is engaging the community chief, the Imam, the Parent Teacher Association, parents and several local mosques to increase the enrollment of Muslim girls in her school.
  • Patience, primary school teacher, Market Day Attendance: Upper primary school students often miss school on market days to work at the market. To improve attendance, Patience is engaging these students through cultural dance and drama performances.
  • Serwaa, primary school teacher, Single Mothers Support Groups: Serwaa has created a social support network for single mothers in her school community. By organizing sessions that aim to build a supportive community for single mothers, she hopes to increase the school attendance of their children.

Read the GIFTED newsletter for more examples of leadership action projects.

Following the educational symposium, the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development hosted a reception honoring the achievements of the group.

Future work

This summer, Kristen McMaster, coordinator and professor in the special education program at the University of Minnesota, will travel to Ghana with the group to help the GIFTED fellows work on peer assisted leadership strategies (PALS). According to the Institute for Learning Sciences, PALS is a peer-tutoring instructional program that supplements the primary reading curriculum by pairing students who work together on reading activities intended to improve reading accuracy, fluency, and comprehension.

About GIFTED

Focused on strengthening the leadership capacity and visibility of female educators as leaders within the Ghanaian public education system, GIFTED provides professional development, on-going support, and leadership training to 12 women educators per year. These GIFTED fellows participate in a year-long transformational leadership curriculum, where they develop and implement action projects that support educational outcomes in their schools. GIFTED was started in June 2013 and is a collaboration between NYU, the University of Minnesota , the University of Education Winneba, and Mujeres por Africa and is sponsored by Banco Santander.

Vukovic is co-principal investigator on the project which led by Kristie Patten Koenig, principal investigator from NYU.  Local partners are Sakina Aquah and Priscilla Yaaba Ackahat from the University of Education, Winneba.

C&I, CEHD alumnus Corey Bulman named 2017 Minnesota Teacher of the Year

Corey Bulman, a CEHD alumnus who received his M.Ed. and initial teaching license in English Education from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in 2006, recently won the prestigious Minnesota Teacher of the Year award. Bulman was selected from 132 candidates, 27 semifinalists, and 11 finalists to receive the 2017 award from Education Minnesota, an 86,000-member statewide educators union. Candidates include prekindergarten through 12th-grade teachers from public or private schools.

Bulman, who has been a language arts teacher at Mound Westonka High School in Mound, MN since earning his teaching license 17 years ago, was inspired by his high school teachers to reach his potential after years as a struggling student. He wrote in his Teacher of the Year portfolio, “This educational experience taught me an important lesson: education is a gift that is renewed every time it is shared. This fact has driven me to give to others what I was so graciously given all those years ago.”

“Even after 18 years, I still remember this outstanding student,” said Richard Beach, Professor Emeritus of English Education who advised Bulman during his time in graduate school. Beach notes that Bulman is the third graduate from the English education program to receive the Teacher of the Year award.

Bulman told the Star Tribune that his students remain a constant source of inspiration. “I’m so incredibly proud to be their teacher,” he said. “They make me think every single day, they challenge me, they keep me young, they keep ideas fresh and vibrant. I’m very fortunate to be their teacher.”

A former student of Bulman’s, Sara Strother, who is finishing her M.Ed. in Arts in Education this May from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, wrote in support of Bulman’s nomination, “When I was in high school, it mattered a great deal to me how adults treated me. Corey was an adult who showed me he believed I was smart and cared about my ideas. He was honest, funny and made me believe in myself.” She adds, “Corey doesn’t just care about the people in his classroom. He cares about how to make them better people, thinkers and leaders of thoughtful lives.”

Learn more about the teacher education programs in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Consider supporting the teacher preparation work in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction to help us develop future teachers of the year.

C&I student Hannah Baxter wins Fulbright Scholarship

Hannah Baxter, an M.Ed. candidate in the Initial Teaching Licensure program in Second Language Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction received the prestigious Fulbright scholarship this year along with 12 other students from the University of Minnesota.

The Fulbright scholarship is meant to foster mutual understandings between people from the United States and other countries through the exchange of knowledge and skills. Baxter will use the Fulbright scholarship to spend a year in Bavaria working as an English teaching assistant with a local teacher. She is looking forward to the opportunity to experience ESL classes in Germany, improve her language skills, and gain a deeper understanding of the German culture after earning her teaching license in both German and English as a second language (ESL) this summer through her M.Ed. program.

“I hope that when I come back, I can bring these experiences with me and use them to be a better teacher for my future students,” said Baxter who plans to teach ESL or German classes in the States upon her return.

Find out more about the degree programs in second language education offered by the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

Sato publishes book on teacher preparation and development in China

Mistilina Sato, Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, authored the recently released book, Empowered Educators in China:  How High Performing Systems Shape Teaching Quality, part of the “Empowered Educator” series published by Jossey Bass (A Wiley imprint). This work is part of a three-year policy study that produced a series of international case studies and books based on  high performing jurisdictions that examines how provincial and national policies support teaching quality from recruitment through preparation and hiring, to ongoing career development and leadership opportunities.

Sato is also co-author of the cross-case book Empowered Educators: How High-Performing Systems Shape Teaching Quality Around the World with Linda Darling-Hammond, Dion Burns, Carol Campbell, A. Lin Goodwin, Karen Hammerness, Ee-Ling Low, Ann McIntyre, and Ken Zeichner.

The national book launch will take place in Washington D.C. on June 6, 2017 hosted by the National Center on Education and the Economy.

C&I’s Erin Baldinger shares strategies to prepare math teachers for success

Erin Baldinger, Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction leverages her experience as a mathematics teacher and educational researcher to prepare aspiring mathematics teachers to effectively communicate their knowledge of math to their students.

“I’ve found that most teachers come into the field with a deep background in math. The problem is that the understanding of mathematics gained through advanced university mathematics courses is not well-connected to the mathematics in the work of teaching,” Baldinger explains.

She distills her experience into five teaching strategies to effectively support all students to engage in mathematics:

Five Techniques for Better Math Teachers

Improving math education and preparation programs for math teachers is a complicated task, but through my experience and research I’ve learned some general principles and strategies that are effective in helping support all students to engage in mathematics.

  1. Believe that all students can learn math. You must believe that every one of your students – no matter their background or current level of knowledge – is capable. Look for each student’s individual strengths and how you can leverage those strengths in the classroom. To me, this is the fundamental underlying principle of being a good teacher.
  2. Use rehearsals as a preparation tool. The most important things that I do in teacher preparation classes is helping my students connect the ideas that we read about to their own practice as teachers. One of the ways I do this is through “coached rehearsals.” One student will lead a discussion while the other members of the class act as the “kids.” During the rehearsal, we have the chance to stop, ask questions, and give feedback, so the discussion leader can get an idea of the kinds of dilemmas they’ll face in a classroom – without the pressure of being in front of a classroom of kids. Later, we use the process of recording video of novice teachers in the classroom and give them the opportunity to analyze their own performance and give feedback to one another.
  3. Explore multiple solutions to math problems. Doing math with my students is critical. When I’m teaching aspiring math teachers, we’ll do math problems that I would then have them do with their own students. During this process, we analyze the problems, looking for multiple solutions strategies. This helps them gain perspective on how their students might approach a problem. It also highlights that there are often multiple mathematically valid ways to approach a task, and the teacher’s role is to help students make connections among the different solution strategies.
  4. Listen. Secondary math teachers must be committed to listening to their students and understanding what they have to say about mathematics. By valuing all student contributions and building on them, you’ll help them cultivate a deeper mathematical understanding.
  5. Understand that there’s no quick fix. With my students, I use multiple strategies to help them learn about teaching. Sometimes it’s rehearsals, sometimes it’s doing math tasks, sometimes we’re watching video or reading and analyzing various aspects of teaching. Having all those touchpoints is critical for me. It’s counterproductive to try and have a quick fix or to think that there’s one technique that will work all the time. Teaching is tough, complex work – but with the right approach I’ve seen my aspiring math teachers – and their pupils – make tremendous strides.
    Read the full article on the CEHD Vision 2020 Blog.

Learn more about the teacher licensure program in mathematics in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

C&I’s Vichet Chhuon writes in the Star Tribune on the importance of teacher diversity in MN

Vichet Chhuon, C&I associate professor the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, wrote about the crucial need for more teachers of color and native american descent in Minnesota classrooms in an op ed in the Star Tribune, “Counterpoint: Teachers of color and American Indian descent in Minnesota are crucial.”

Chhuon underscores the reasons that  a diverse teaching force is imperative for students. “Minnesota has had some of the worst academic and opportunity gaps in the nation,” he notes. “Developing trusting and affirming relationships with diverse students and families is crucial to closing equity gaps.”

Chuuon believes that the Minnesota teaching force should reflect the population of its students and its inhabitants. He argues that research has shown that students of all races benefit from being taught by diverse teachers. In addition to simply seeing diversity of adults in professional roles, all students will receive exposure to diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

Read the full article in the Star Tribune.