CEHD News Uncategorized

CEHD News Uncategorized

Elementary education major finds a deeper understanding of marginalized communities through RJUS minor

Michael Kroymann is a senior Elementary Education Foundations major who is earning the Racial Justice in Urban Schooling (RJUS) minor to better support marginalized students and families, and gain a deeper understanding of the conditions that affect their lives. As a queer, non-binary individual Michael has a unique understanding of the important roles that empathy, trust, and understanding play in building community with groups often ignored by mainstream education.

What drove you to enroll in the RJUS minor program?

Understanding and empathy are central to the way I walk through the world, especially in my teaching practice. I felt it was essential for me to engage in coursework that expanded my knowledge of the students and families I interact with in metro-area schools. I felt that my major program did not offer enough content in that area, and I decided to pursue the RJUS minor to further engage with diversity and justice.

Which part of the program have you found the most valuable?

I think a fundamental part of the program is inward reflection. I truly believe that I am able to learn and better myself through reflection, and my coursework definitely supported this. I also found there to be a constant free exchange of ideas and experiences through conversation, which has been invaluable in furthering my education.

How was your experience with the faculty been?

The faculty involved in the RJUS have been such an important part of my experience. Never before have I felt so understood and supported in my classes. My interactions with faculty were all built upon a foundation of trust, empathy, and genuine care, qualities which are frequently hard to find in a university setting.

What do you hope to do after graduation?

Things are a little bit up in the air right now. I realized this year that I don’t feel able to support an entire classroom of my own at this stage of my life, so my plans have been totally revamped. I would still love to work with youth, and I am also really interested in nonprofit work and community organizations.

What do you hope to get out of the minor? How will it help you in your career path?

In completing the RJUS minor, I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the world and develop skills that help me to engage critically with the institutions and conditions that affect the lives of marginalized communities. This will enable me work with diverse groups of people in a manner that is sensitive and responsive to their lived experiences.

Any other thoughts you want to share about your experience?

As a queer, non-binary individual, learning and working in academia is frequently a draining experience. I have felt invisible in so many of my classes, especially in the education courses. My time in the RJUS minor has never felt this way; I have always been welcomed and made to feel safe and valued as my whole self. This has been such a positive part of my undergraduate experience, and I am forever grateful.

Learn more about the Racial Justice in Urban Schooling minor, including how to apply.

Award-winning Zenon Dance Company artist finds new career through C&I’s dance education program

Mary Ann BradleyMary Ann Bradley is ready to start a new chapter of her life. As a member of the prestigious Zenon Dance Company for 12 years, a two-time recipient of the McKnight Fellowship for dancers, and one of Dance magazines “25 to watch” in 2014, Bradley has been a luminary of the Twin Cities’ dance scene for over a decade. She is now focusing on bringing her considerable talents to the classroom. Bradley began the M.Ed. and Initial Teaching license program in Arts in Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction this past summer and is finishing up her final season with the Zenon Dance Company.

Zenon’s artistic director, Linda Andrews, said that Bradley “excelled in teaching troubled and disadvantaged youth” as part of the company’s outreach program. “She gave them her full attention and care.”

The award-winning dancer chose to earn her teaching license in dance education to offer more students the opportunity to experience dance as an art form. “The public schools are the most effective way to reach students who might not otherwise have access. Obtaining my teaching license was a practical necessity towards this goal,” said Bradley, adding that “the fact that the program was able to be completed in one year was also appealing.”

 

Bradley found out about the program after attending a talk by program faculty, Betsy Maloney. She was impressed by Maloney’s “candid personal storytelling and thoughtful approach to dance education.” Additionally, Bradley felt the program aligned with her belief in “the capacity of dance to offer direct experience with collaboration, critical thinking, and communication.”

While she still hopes to continue her work with the Zenon Dance Company on a project basis, Bradley’s career goals have shifted. She now is focused on sharing her love of the art form by “teaching students the joy of moving freely and expressing themselves through dance.”

Learn more about the teacher licensure programs offered in dance, theatre, and the arts.

Gov. Dayton names Dec. 8 “Vanessa Goodthunder Day” after C&I student for her work on Dakota language advocacy

Vanessa Goodthunder and Mark Dayton
Vanessa Goodthunder (left) and her mother present Gov. Dayton with a star quilt.

Vanessa Goodthunder, an M.Ed. candidate in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and has gone on to make major strides in tribal issues advocacy and language revitalization in Minnesota and beyond. Governor Mark Dayton heard Goodthunder speak about her work to revitalize the Dakota language and asked her to serve as assistant to the chief of staff focusing on tribal issues, reports the Redwood Falls Gazette.

“During the seven months I was in the governor’s office I learned a lot about government and what it means to be a leader,” said Goodthunder. “I never imagined I would work in government, and even though the role was a short one I think I was able to make a difference for the tribes.”

Dayton recognized her work by declaring December 8 as Vanessa Goodthunder Day in Minnesota. Gooddthunder tweeted in response to the honor, “Happy Vanessa Goodthunder Day in the State of Minnesota. Pidamayaye Governors Office for helping me grow my confidence in my voice and perspective. I’m so honored to have been on this team and now to help open up a 0-3 Dakota Immersion School at the Lower Sioux Community. Wopida.”

Goodthunder will continue her work in the Lower Sioux Indian Community as director of the Head Start program where she received a $1.9 million grant to launch an early childhood Dakota language immersion aimed at revitalizing the Dakota language.

In addition, Goodthunder, helped to launch a Dakota language app with a grant from the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, which is expected to be launched publicly this year, according the Star Tribune.

“My language is part of me,” she said. “Without it I am not whole.”

Read the more about Goodthunder in the Redwood Falls Gazette.

Learn more about the M.Ed. and teacher licensure programs in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

TESL minor Aaron Nakamura is driven to support English-language learners with psychological trauma

Psychology major/TESL minor Aaron Nakamura wants to use his language teaching skills and psychology degree to help children learning English as a second language who need extra support.

What drove you to enroll in the Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) minor program?

My goal is to help children in third world countries who are in need of both psychological and educational support. I enrolled in the TESL minor program to equip myself with the necessary skill set to support those children through language education.

I came here from Japan five years ago and it was every hard to learn the language and get acclimated to a new country. My friends helped me a lot, and I would like to pass on that help to children struggling with both language skills and psychological trauma.

How has your experience with the faculty been?

The faculty members in this program are very knowledgeable and supportive. While learning how to teach English, I had to improve my language skills because English is my second language. The faculty were always there to help guide me through my struggles as a non-native English speaker.

Which part of the program did you find the most valuable?

All of the requirement courses for this program are very well-structured. I gained fundamental ideas and knowledge about linguistics and had the opportunity to train as an educator through a service-learning practicum. I also learned actual techniques and knowledge about teaching ESL that allowed me to strengthen my teaching abilities. Plus, I expanded my intercultural understanding which allowed me to gain insights about the amount of resources that are available in different parts of the world. Our discussions made me want to be an individual that is able to make a difference in our world.

Any other thoughts you want to share about your experience?

I have enjoyed meeting and sharing experiences with people in the TESL minor program who have multicultural backgrounds. People in this program understand and appreciate cultural differences, which allowed me to fit into the environment and feel respected as an individual. I made valuable friendships with my classmates that I will cherish throughout my lifetime.

Find out more about the TESL minor and other programs in second language education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

New math teacher and M.Ed. candidate, Manju Connolly, shares her first-year teaching experience

New math teacher and M.Ed. candidate Manju Connolly shares her experiences in the initial teaching license program and what she’s learned the first year on the job.

What drove you to enroll in the program?

I participated in the DirecTrack to Teaching program as an undergraduate, which allows students interested in teaching to take course and  engage in service-learning teaching to fulfill prerequisites for the M.Ed and Initial Teaching License (ILP) program. I had two positive experiences with student-teaching placements in Minneapolis Public Schools. That, along with the reflective discussions we shared in the class solidified my interest in teaching. I also gained relationships with Minneapolis Public School teachers and mentorship from our DirecTrack teacher. Knowing that the M.Ed/ILP program would allow me to stay connected to these resources and maintain relationships I valued with other professors and peers, I decided to enroll.

Were there any surprises and challenges along the way?

Student teaching is challenging! It is one thing to practice making lesson plans and analyze the effectiveness of lesson plans through methodology classes, but it’s another thing to implement plans live with a group of students whose learning (and grade!) is directly affected by your performance. The experience has been terrifying, difficult, and thrilling. I was lucky to have two very supportive cooperating teachers, who provide me with clear expectations and ample feedback to help me improve my work.

What has been your experience with the faculty?

There are many faculty and staff that contribute to our cohort’s success, and I am especially grateful for our math education professors. Erin Baldinger always encourages us to think critically about how to maximize student learning. She also helped us be intentional about analyzing tasks and lesson plans for effectiveness. In terms of our claim to fame, it’s hard to find a math teacher in the Twin Cities (or maybe statewide…nationwide???) who doesn’t know about Terry Wyberg. His connections and positive reputation reach each aspect of our training, from getting us school observation opportunities to landing student teaching placements to networking with districts as we navigate the job search process.

How have you felt about the cohort model and experience?

I feel like we each had an important place in our class discussions, and would like to recreate the collaborative environment of sharing ideas, asking questions, and even arguing, that we experienced in the cohort model. As I have transitioned to being a teacher, having the cohort peers is invaluable for getting new ideas, sharing practices, and having an ear for when you just want to vent to someone else who cares as much about teaching as you do.

Has the student teaching helped you feel prepared to enter your own classroom?

I could not have been luckier with my placement. I had two cooperating teachers who were constantly seeking ways to connect the learning targets to the knowledge and experiences students bring. Our topics and projects were often motivated by videos, images, or students’ personal reflections. Most importantly, I got a chance to see how a collaborative group of teachers function within the math department; My teachers established early on that they would be direct with their feedback, and as a result I felt comfortable suggesting tasks or tweaks for our lesson plans because my ideas are valued, whether they are implemented by the team or rejected with justification.

What were your goals post-graduation? How did your first year live up to your expectations?

After graduating the licensure program in May, I finished up the semester at my student teaching placement and interviewed for high school math teacher positions. My goal had been to teach in the Twin Cities in an urban high school where I could support Spanish-speaking students and collaborate with an enthusiastic math department. I am very happy with the school I chose because it has a diverse student body, reminded me of my own high school in Chicago area, and has an immensely supportive math department team. We share resources, troubleshoot, and communicate weekly. This support has been the most valuable part of my new school, and I would be having a much tougher first year without it.

After this first year, I will recuperate, reflect on what worked and what did not, tweak or overhaul lesson plans for the upcoming year, and complete the final three classes of the M.Ed degree as I teach my second year.

Any other thoughts you want to share about your experience?

Teaching should not be an individual or isolated profession, and I know I need a lot of moral and professional support in my first few years. My teachers helped me apply for a fellowship, the Knowles Teacher Initiative, and I am thankful to count on that for continued support for my first five years and beyond. I am also thankful to reflect on my experience and have no regrets on choosing this program. I hope to maintain lifelong relationships with several faculty and cohort members because I believe it is an essential part of well-being. I plan on participating in local, state, and national math conferences to stay connected with them and motivated in the classroom.

Teaching will always be challenging, but I am ready to embrace the challenge and enjoy it because I now have a great group of people on my team.

Find out more about the M.Ed. and Initial Teaching License program in Mathematics Education.

C&I staffer joins relief brigade in Puerto Rico, organizes to reopen schools

Sigal joined aid brigades to clear debris caused by hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Brad Sigal, a staff member in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, recently returned from an aid trip to Puerto Rico where he assisted the Puerto Rican Teacher’s Federation (FMPR) with their disaster relief work and educational advocacy to reopen public schools. He saw the devastation of hurricane Maria firsthand and witnessed the resilience of the communities one month after the hurricane hit while they were still dealing with power outages, food shortages, and a breakdown of infrastructure.

Sigal decided to go down to help after seeing the FMPR’s calls for help on Facebook. “They were organizing work brigades to clear roads and fix houses. I wanted to support the efforts,” he says.

The capital of San Juan, Sigal reported, was mostly without electricity and using generators to keep some homes and businesses electrified, including the international airport. The outlying cities were completely in the dark and still had roads covered in debris and homes with holes in the roofs or walls.

Sigal and FMPR president Mercedes Martinez.

Sigal met teachers and families who were concerned that schools still weren’t open a month after the hurricane. He helped the FMPR organize to reopen schools, a defense against growing fears that schools would be privatized in the wake of hurricane Maria in a similar turn of events that saw 7,000 teachers fired and public schools shut down and converted to charter schools after hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

Many schools have opened since he returned from his visit, Sigal says, largely because of the political activism by teacher’s union and a legal injunction where they forced the Department of Education to give a tally of which schools not open and why. He explains that schools were remaining closed because officials said there was infrastructure damage, but people had been using the cafeterias and schools as relief centers and were holding up well in that capacity. “Saying that the schools are not in condition to reopen didn’t make sense,” Sigal said of the situation.

Around 100 schools are still not open 70 days after the hurricane and so the work continues to save those schools and get them reopened to the students.

Sigal noted that most teachers still decided to go to their closed schools and help families in the buildings in order to maintain a connection with the community and continue to work.

“ I was amazed by the teachers and others I met. In the face of having to deal with their own personal crises of not having housing or food or electricity, they were also battling political issues with the school,” Sigal recounted. “The ability to do all that incredible.”

 

 

Project to help first responders wins MN-REACH grant

Tai Mendenhall.
Tai Mendenhall discusses his research to improve the lives of first responders. Photo by Julie Michener.

Family Social Science Associate Professor Tai Mendenhall’s project to help first responders, called “Preventing Compassion Fatigue in Disaster-Responders: Advancing and Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Mobile Self Care App,” has been selected for MN-Reach funding.

The University of Minnesota launched MN-REACH in 2015 to help researchers with new health-related discoveries navigate the complex path(s) from laboratory to market. MN-REACH is also one of three sites in the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hubs.

Mendenhall is principal investigator (PI) on a team that created a self-care app for trauma-responders, the UMN Responder Self-Care App. In 2012, providers and researchers from the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, Academic Health Center (Office of Emergency Preparedness), and Department of Family Social Science collaborated with colleagues at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to develop the innovative self-care app for emergency responders in-the-field.  They pilot-tested an early version of the app with volunteer members of the UMN’s Medical Reserve Corps (Behavioral-, Biomedical-, Veterinary-, and other teams) and MDH.

“These volunteers assisted us with understanding their use-cases, so that we can refine and revise this early version across both content and organization,” said Mendenhall, who earned his Ph.D. in Family Social Science at the U of M in 2003. “We are now working toward widespread use and rigorous (randomized) empirical testing.  This is very timely and important work!”

Mendenhall’s co-investigators include Andrew Morrow, in the U of M’s Office for Technology Commercialization, and two professionals from the MDH’s Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response: Nancy Carlson, a doctoral student who also works as a behavioral health and community resilience program coordinator, and Tom Garcia, a medical countermeasures planner.

The interactive smartphone app (available for iOS and Android) engages responders in a variety of ways before, during, and after deployments. The personally-customizable tool serves to promote and aid responders’ attention to their own physical, emotional, and social well-being.

High stress – high risk 

Disaster-responders are already a high-risk group for compassion fatigue and – paired with the high-risk nature of fieldwork, itself – they are also at high-risk to become impaired. This puts both providers and the families they serve at risk. A 2016 Survey conducted by the National EMS Management Association (NEMA) described in detail the current needs of the responder community, including a call to action: “There is a significant mental health and wellness problem among the EMS workforce in the United States. Insufficient data exists to fully describe the extent and impact of this problem across the 800,000+ professionals that serve around the clock each day.”

Currently organizations address compassion fatigue during after-action processing and/or debriefing sequences, which do not sufficiently address the personal health and well-being of responders. This gap is partly connected to the cultures of medical education, law-enforcement, and emergency services institutions (e.g., rigid hierarchies between classes and specializations, long working hours, and an ethos that does not support or encourage asking for help or appearing vulnerable).

The risks associated with compassion fatigue have personal consequences for emergency responders, including physical and mental illnesses, relationship stress, and professional consequences for the individuals and families that disaster response personnel serve (ranging from missing important cues, to ineffective teamwork and/or straightforward medical errors).

“The opportunity to use the UMN Responder Self-Care App in real-time – privately or in coordination with assigned team-members – will help responders with self-care during times when doing so is most needed, while also capturing much needed data to support long-term research so crucial in this field,” said Mendenhall.

Early development of the UMN Responder Self-Care App was supported by University of Minnesota: Simulations, Exercises, and Effective Education (U-SEE) funding to investigate the effectiveness of public health preparedness training methods with the goal of developing training models that build system capacity.

Family Social Science makes presence felt at national conference

FSoS Associate Professor Jenifer McGuire opens a session on trans gender youth at NCFR 2017.

 

The hashtag #UMNProud was a presence  at the National Council on Family Relations’ annual conference in Orlando in November.

Current students (26), faculty and research associates (13) and alumni (25, including a professor emerita) from the Department of Family Social Science and the University of Minnesota made presentations, moderated panels, and led special sections dialogues, as well as discussed their research in poster sessions across the four days of the national meeting.

Their topics spanned the growing range of family social science research – from transgender youth and young adults in context, to familial and neighborhood influences on obesity, to military service and its impact on families.  The Department of Family Social Science is among the national leaders advancing theory and practice to improve the well-being of diverse families.

In addition, grad student Samantha LeBouef was publicly recognized for her national Student Proposal Award in the Education and Enrichment Section for a paper she presented at the conference.

The University of Minnesota was also among 18 institutions promoting their family social science departments to potential grad students during University Receptions Thursday evening.

Here’s a selection of graduate student presentations, posters and papers:

Molly White Bailey, Anti-racists Identity Development – poster;

Natasha Bell, Children and Finances in Divorce Decision-making – poster;

Gretchen Buchanan, Conceptualization of What Constitutes a Strong Family – poster;

Sarah Burcher, Work or Family? A hermeneutic phenomenology qualitative meaning and value of employment from the perspective of low-income women – presentation;

Daniel Cooper, Examining Strength and Resilience with Resettled Liberian Refugee Families, presentation; and Examining biracial identity development: Key concepts and assumptions – poster;

Lekie Dwanyen, Examining Strength and Resilience with Resettled Liberian Refugee Families – presentation;

Renada Goldberg, Using CPBR in Policy Analysis: Assessing Paid Sick Leave and African Americans – poster;

Heather Hessel, Different Paths: Comparing College-Going and Non-college Youth – poster;

Emily Jordan, Barriers to Rural Mental Health Care: Clinicians’ Perspectives – presentation;

Angela Keyzers, Sensation-seeking and Emerging Adult Online Risk Behavior – presentation;

Samantha LeBouef, Near, Far, Wherever you are: Siblings and Social Media Communication – paper;

Sun-Kyung Lee, Well-Being of Emerging Adults: How Family and Friends Matter – poster;

Na Zhang, Relationships between mindfulness facets and observed anger expression: An actor partner interdependence analysis with post-deployed military families – poster;

Jingchen Zhang, Effects of a military parenting program: Inhibitory control as a moderator – poster.

About the conference

The NCFR’s annual conference attracts more than 1,000 scholars and practitioners from across the globe with the goal to highlight research, feature evidence-based best practices and critically examine policies that impact families and communities.

 

 

Paula Goldberg Receives OAA

Paula Goldberg, with President Eric Kaler and President Emeritus Bob Bruininks

On November 19, elementary education (1964) alumna Paula Goldberg was presented with the University of Minnesota’s Outstanding Achievement Award.

Paula is the Executive Director and co-founder of PACER Center, a nonprofit supporting families of youth with disabilities using a “parents helping parents” model. PACER Center is unique in that it serves children of all ages, with all disabilities: learning, physical, emotional, mental, and health. No other organization in Minnesota offers this broad range of services to families.

Prior to founding PACER, Paula was an elementary school teacher in Minneapolis and Chicago. In 1978, she was faced with a decision, either to attend law school or help launch a new organization to assist parents of children with disabilities. She chose to spend her time – just for a few years, she thought – building PACER Center.

It was a grassroots effort, with one grant, five staff and a 700 square foot office filled with used furniture. Her young sons helped with filing and put on puppet shows to teach schoolchildren about disability awareness.

Today, thanks to Paula’s leadership, PACER has more than 70 staff in its own 38,000 square foot building. The Center runs more than 35 programs, including bullying prevention, social events and self-advocacy resources for youth, independent housing information, an assistive technology center, and, almost 40 years later, the puppet shows.

Paula has dedicated her professional career to ensuring families of children with disabilities have access to information, resources and support. Her vision for PACER has made a difference for thousands of children and parents across the country.

The Outstanding Achievement Award is reserved for University of Minnesota alumni who have attained marked distinction in their profession or in public service; and who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership on a community, state, national, or international level.

NYTimes quotes Kane on Thomas, Liberty sale

Dr. Mary Jo KaneMary Jo Kane,  Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology and co-director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport, is quoted in a New York Times article, “With the Liberty for Sale, What’s Next for Isiah Thomas?” Kane “said that providing team stability and being committed to making the Liberty a world-class organization ‘does not excuse his past behavior.'”

Cuevas and Thompson present at Overcoming Racism conference on re-envisioning allyship

Jessica Thompson
Faustina Cuevas

CEHD senior academic advisers Faustina Cuevas and Jessica Thompson presented “Becoming an Accomplice: Are You Ready for the New Wave of Allyship?” at the 2017 Overcoming Racism conference at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul.

Their presentation addressed how the term ally has become a “buzzword, ” and how to move beyond allyship and shift towards becoming accomplices in social justice work. “Allyship” must be re-envisioned to better serve communities and dismantle systems of oppression. Participants learned the importance of the accomplice framework and its connection to advocacy.

TESL minor and elementary education major, Whitley Lubeck, is driven to work with rural students

Senior Elementary Education Foundations major and Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) minor, Whitley Lubeck, wants to bring her experience with diverse learners and communities to students abroad, and eventually, back to rural Minnesota.

What drove you to enroll in the TESL minor program?

The TESL minor program goes hand-in-hand with my Spanish studies major and gives me the option to teach abroad, which is one of my goals after graduation.  After deciding to also pursue a degree in Elementary Education Foundations, the TESL minor has been very helpful with my teaching practicum in elementary school sites around the Twin Cities because there is a large group of English-language learners in the urban area.

How was your experience with the faculty been?

The faculty of this program are great to work with and very knowledgeable.  They bring a lot of experience to inform their instruction and often arrange their class in an interactive way, encouraging students to not only learn from them but also from other students.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I see myself working in a rural elementary school similar to the school the one I attended in my hometown.  I want to bring awareness to difficult topics in education, an appreciation of diversity, and a drive to seek justice to students in less diverse populations.

Which part of the program did you find the most valuable?

The requirement to do a service-learning project as part of the course “Basics to Teaching English as a Second Language” was very valuable.  I learned about the different programs that exist for ESL learners in the community and I was able to use my knowledge from class discussions and activities at my service-learning location.  The hands-on experience gave me an authentic glimpse of teaching ESL and helped to prepare me for working in the field.

Any other thoughts you want to share about your experience?

The students in the TESL minor program have a variety of backgrounds and experience in different languages.  It is extremely helpful to learn about different languages and how characteristics of the language can affects learning the English language.

Learn more about the TESL minor and certificate program, and the B.S. in elementary education foundations in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

Ph.D. candidate Yi-Ju Lai examines the unique challenges of international teaching assistants

Yi-Ju Lai is a Ph.D. candidate in Second Language Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. She is driven to understand the complicated role of international teaching assistants, and the communication challenges they face in the university community.

What drove you to enroll in the Second Language Education Ph.D. program? (a little background on how you came to us).

I have a background in applied linguistics and its application to language education.  During one of my projects researching how academic language is learned and used among multilingual international students in U.S. higher education, I became more and more interested in the theories of linguistic anthropology and their applications to language acquisition and language use in different contexts.  I decided to pursue a Ph.D. degree to sharpen my research skills and develop my knowledge of linguistic anthropology.  One of the Second Language Education Ph.D. program focuses is language acquisition and language use in a range of contexts and settings, which drove me to join this research community.

What is your current research focus?

A major issue on U.S. campuses is miscommunication between university students and their international teaching assistants (ITAs) who lack knowledge of U.S. classroom interactions.  My current research project uses language socialization theory–– the study of the interrelated processes of language and cultural development–– to examine: (1) ITAs’ language socialization experiences in U.S. graduate schools and (2) language use between ITAs and their U.S. university students, and the classroom interactional challenges facing them.  It also looks at how institutional cultures shape those language use and classroom interactions.  In addition, my current project explores how ITAs are positioned simultaneously as content experts and language novices in everyday instructional interactions with their university students.

When did you become interested in applied linguistics, or linguistic anthropology, particularly language socialization?

As a life-long language learner, I am always interested in how language is learned, how language is used verbally and nonverbally in diverse contexts, and how language shapes the way people understand the world.  My first class in the field of linguistic anthropology inspired my research interest in language socialization and brought an interdisciplinary approach to my study considering language as a form of social action.

What do you hope to do after graduation?

I will seek a position that allows me to continue my language socialization research and support meaningful cross-cultural communication in higher education contexts between multilingual international students and their U.S. professors and students.

Which resources have you found through the department to help with your research?

My research has been benefited from C&I travel grants, pro-seminars, emerging scholars conference/ research day, graduate student organizations, and conversations with colleagues and faculty members. In addition, the collaborative work between the department and UMN institutions (e.g., Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition, Center for Educational Innovation) has also helped deepen my research.

When did you come to the United States? Has your experience affected your research?
I have been studying and teaching/working in the United States for more than ten years. My experiences have encouraged me to re-think how multilingual practices cross-cultural communication can be achieved among speakers with diverse backgrounds.

What has been your favorite part of living in Minnesota?
It is interesting and meaningful to observe and learn how languages are used in communication among diverse populations in Minnesota, and how those language varieties may represent individual’s lived experiences and reflection of the society.

Learn more about second language education research and the Ph.D. program in Second Language Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

 

TESL minor student, Iftu Adem, share her inspiration for teaching English language learners

Sophomore Iftu Adem is majoring in Elementary Education Foundations with a minor in Teaching English as a Second Languages (TESL). She explains how her experience as an English-language learner inspired her to become a teacher.

What drove you to enroll in the TESOL minor program?

When I came to America I saw teachers who were very passionate about their jobs, especially teaching English to students who were learning English for the first time. They had a dedication and enthusiasm that attracted me to that profession and ever since I’ve wanted to be like them and be able to inspire someone in return.

What do you hope to do after graduation?

I hope to be able to go to my home country, Kenya, and teach the next generation and pass on the legacy of my former teachers and show them the advantages that learning a language opens up for them.

What has been your experience with the faculty?

My experience so far has been amazing. The professors that I have had the pleasure of meeting this semester have been amazing; They’re understanding and very passionate about what they do and that kind of energy reinforces in me the whole reason i decided to do this minor.

What’s been your favorite course so far?

Basics in Teaching English As a Second Language because of the community service aspect. That helped me implement what I learned in a real-world setting. That was very helpful in envisioning how I could carry out a lesson and plan lessons based on what I’m learning.

Learn more about the TESL minor and other second language education degree programs.

America Reads helps students make an impact in local communities

literacy mentor america reads“I really like the idea of doing work that is important and impactful and being able to get outside of the college bubble, to see and be a part of the surrounding community,” explains sophomore marketing major Mackenzie Kerry, who found a job that let her do just that as a literacy mentor with CEHD America Reads. The program trains college students of any major in reading and literacy skills to equip them to tutor K-8 students in schools and after-school programs. The CEHD America Reads program, housed in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction’s Minnesota Center for Reading Research, partners with local schools and community organizations to improve literacy. The program employs 100 university students as literacy mentors during the school year.

“It’s an amazing job,” says Logan Haen, a sophomore biology major who has been a literacy mentor since coming to the U last year. Haen appreciates the different perspectives he has gained working with students of diverse backgrounds. “I’ve gained tons of knowledge about other cultures and the program has allowed me to explore different parts of Minneapolis.”

M.Ed. and Initial License in Elementary Education candidate, Jessica Rifley, agrees that working with America Reads was eye-opening. Coming from a small town, Rifley was eager to find a job that “allowed me to leave campus and really immerse myself in various Minneapolis communities and begin networking with nonprofit and community organizations.”  Rifley, like many other literacy mentors, found a calling through the program. “I wasn’t 100 percent sure what I wanted to do when I graduated (I believe the total major count was five before settling on elementary education) but I knew that I wanted to work with young people in whatever capacity allowed me to make the most positive impact possible.”

“Elementary education students talk about how this is a double dose of teaching practicum. It builds on teaching experience,” says program coordinator, Megan Pieters. The program offers literacy mentors the chance to work with students in multiple settings for 6-10 hours per week and find out if education or youth work might be their career path.

For any student with a work-study award, this program has the potential to be transformative—not just for the mentees, but the mentors, as well.  “America Reads has definitely impacted my understanding of what the true definition of service is,” Rifley explains. “[I learned that] it is necessary to build connections with a community and understand the resources they have to offer, rather than focus on what needs to be “fixed” or changed.”

Junior youth studies major, Choua Lee, feels the program has helped her understand the complicated factors that can affect a child’s ability to be successful in the classroom. “I have learned that every individual is going through something, and that may impact their learning.” She adds that the program has helped her to be “more patient and understanding” when working with youth.

Partner site coordinator, Sister Sharon White of the East Side Learning Center notes that the “America Reads mentors are passionate and enthusiastic about making a difference. Staff often comment on the poise of the mentors and how seriously they take the responsibility. We appreciate our ten-year partnership with America Reads!”

For students who are interested in becoming a literacy mentor, America Reads is accepting applications. Students must have a work-study award, but do not need their own transportation. Starting rates are $10.50/hour.

Contact Jennifer Kohler with questions, or send a resume to Megan Pieters.

 

 

 

Categories:

Helen Meyer Receives OAA

Helen Meyer with her husband, William Bieber

On Oct. 25, The Honorable Helen Meyer, Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, was presented with the University of Minnesota’s Outstanding Achievement Award.

Meyer is a School of Social Work alumna, who carried out the school’s commitment to social justice through her work as a lawyer and judge.

While on the state Supreme Court, Justice Meyer led a workgroup that identified and implemented ways to improve legal assistance for families in child protection cases. Because of her efforts, children’s interests in Minnesota are better represented by having competent parental representation.

Justice Meyer also recognized that cases involving individuals struggling with addiction were not being handled effectively, and were not decreasing recidivism. She laid the groundwork for establishing addiction treatment courts in our state.

After stepping down from the Supreme Court, Justice Meyer continued her advocacy on behalf of families by helping to establish the Mitchell Hamline Child Protection Clinic at her  law school alma mater.

In her remarks, Meyer recalled taking a class with Esther Wattenberg and how it made an impact on her decision to work on behalf of vulnerable populations.

The Outstanding Achievement Award is reserved for University of Minnesota alumni who have attained marked distinction in their profession or in public service; and who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership on a community, state, national, or international level.

Family Social Science: It’s all about connections

Family Social Science Professor/ITR Director Abi Gewirtz has collaborated with current and former grad students on a new article for “Family Relations: Interdisciplinary Journal of applied Family Studies,” published by the National Council on Family Relations.

Gewirtz, current FSOS grad student, Na Zhang, and Osnat Zamir, Ph.D., an associate professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, have written “Actor-Partner Associations of Mindfulness and Marital Quality After Military Deployment.” It is currently available pre-publication at NCFR’s online library.

Zhang, a fourth-year doctoral student in Family Social Science, is a native of China and began examining the effects of mindfulness as a master’s degree student at Tsinghua University in Beijing, where she stood out to Gewirtz, who was there teaching a graduate course in prevention science.

Dr. Gewirtz supervised Zamir’s post-doctoral appointment (2011-2016) in FSoS and ITR where she joined Gewirtz’s ADAPT research project. Zamir had been recommend by Dr. Yoav Lavee, a FSoS alum and CEHD Distinguished International Alumnus Awardee. He is currently is on faculty at the University of Haifa, Israel, where Zamir received her Ph.D. degree. Gewirtz served on the CEHD award committee that honored Dr. Lavee.

CEHD start-up partners with game maker to improve school readiness

Reflection Sciences, a Minnesota start-up founded by two CEHD professors, has announced a new partnership that aims to measure and improve school readiness through games developed specifically for early learners. The collaboration pairs an Executive Function (EF) measurement tool developed by Reflection Sciences with Kiko’s Thinking TimeTM games in order to track students’ progress in EF as they play.

Executive Function capabilities are key developments in the preschool years. Sometimes called the “air traffic controller of your brain,” EF is the set of neurocognitive functions that help the brain organize and act on information. These functions enable us to pay attention, control behavior, and think flexibly—abilities necessary for success in kindergarten and beyond.

Kiko Labs, which worked with University of California–Berkeley and Harvard neuroscientists to develop educational games for young learners, offers activities targeting skills essential to cognitive learning and school readiness for children ages 3 to 7.

Stephanie Carlson

Reflection Sciences—founded in 2014 by child development professor Stephanie Carlson and professor Phil Zelazo of the Institute of Child Development—provides professional development, training, and tools for assessing and improving Executive Function skills. Their Executive Function measurement tool, called the Minnesota Executive Function Scale (MEFSTM), is the first objective, scientifically based, and normed direct assessment of executive function for ages 2 and up.

MEFSTM is already used by educators in 32 states to track growth in EF and effectiveness of methods and curriculum. This new partnership hopes to bring schools and early child advocacy organizations a complete solution for building and measuring skills essential to school success.

“We pride ourselves on having the first nationally normed objective measure of EF for preschool children, but caregivers also want solutions they can try to help improve children’s EF skills and prepare them to succeed in school,” Carlson says. “I am delighted to be able to recommend Kiko’s Thinking TimeTM games as a natural complement to the MEFS.”

 

Categories:

Family Social Science Focus on: Student Achievement

Samantha LeBouef.
Family Social Science graduate student Samantha LeBouef.

Grad student Samantha LeBouef has won a national award from the National Council on Family Relations. She won a Student Proposal Award in the Education and Enrichment Section for her paper, “Near, Far, Wherever You Are: Siblings and Social Media Communication” that she’ll be presenting at the NCFR annual conference later this month. The award recognizes students’ quality proposals and comes with a cash travel award to the annual conference. LeBouef will also present at the annual conference for the Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood in Washington, D.C.

LeBouef, is co-president of the graduate student organization, SHARK,  and her advisor is Jodi Dworkin, professor and associate department head of Family Social Science.