Minority-Serving Institutions and Their Contribution to Advancing Multicultural Teacher Education Pedagogy

Article excerpt

Teachers of color can bring a rich, cultural perspective to the classroom and provide their students with insight to the diverse elements of society. The presence of culturally and linguistically diverse teachers in the classroom presents opportunities for cultural exchange with not only the students, but also with their colleagues and the community. With the United States Census Bureau projecting a significant increase of enrollment of culturally diverse school-aged students over the next 30 years (November 11, 2010, from http://www.census.gov/prod/www/ab s/p25.html), it is vital to address the high-quality educational preparation of teachers of color to become agents of learning. Specifically, the focus should be on those students of color who are receiving training and supervision prior to completing a teacher education program, also known as pre-service students.

Multicultural teacher education at higher education institutions of color has been a vital source for equipping public education with well-prepared, culturally competent educators. These institutions understand the implicit, complex roles of teachers of color and have developed culturally-based teacher education pedagogy. This symposium will address factors such as teacher shortage, cultural competency, and successful culturally diverse pre-service teacher education, in examining the impact of institutions of color in multicultural teacher education.

While enrollment of culturally diverse children is steadily rising, the teaching profession reflects a different profile. Tellez (1999) suggested the school environment benefits from having teachers of color and increased opportunities for culturally-relevant instruction. However, the vast majority of teachers are white and female with high probability of bringing limited multicultural experiences and low expectations of culturally diverse children to the classroom (Sleeter, 2005). This trend has focused national attention on the shortage of teachers from culturally, linguistically diverse backgrounds. The Alliance for Equity in Higher Education identified contributing factors to this dire shortage of teachers of color, including negative schooling experiences, social influences and low salaries (November 12, 2010, from http://www.ihep.org/Publications/mostpopular.cfm). Nevertheless, institutions of color have a demonstrated track record of providing the teaching profession with highly qualified graduates (Redmond, Clinedinst, & O'Brien, 2000). Within those institutions is a culturally reciprocal process for developing bright, engaged teachers. Therefore, institutions of color are positioned to address this issue of a culturally diverse teacher shortage and provide exemplary practices for all institutions to consider.

In today's classroom, it is critical for teachers to be able to provide quality instruction to all students that affirms their ethnic, linguistic, and/or socio-economic background. The facilitation and development of cultural competency of pre-service teachers is vital to providing graduates with the skill set necessary to adequately teach all students. In response to this issue, Sleeter (2005) recommended restructuring teacher education by infusing community-based experiences, culturally-responsive pedagogy, and continuous professional development while in the field. Research suggests that pre-service teachers of color are more likely to embrace these elements than white pre-service teachers (Nuby & Doebler, 2000); therefore, teacher education programs should deliberately recruit and retain these teachers of color.

The foundation of teacher education programs at institutions of color is already grounded in community engagement and cultural values. Due to these institutions' community responsiveness and mission, their teacher education programs have historically infused those elements into classroom instruction and field experiences (Redmond et al., 2000). …

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