Academic journal article Rural Educator

A Distance-Delivered Teacher Education Program for Rural Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Teacher Candidates

Academic journal article Rural Educator

A Distance-Delivered Teacher Education Program for Rural Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Teacher Candidates

Article excerpt

This article describes a collaborative, distance-delivered, teacher preparation program for rural, culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) teacher candidates. Multiple institutions partnered with one university in order to diversify the teaching force in the region and meet the needs of CLD students living there. In describing the program 's design and implementation phases, a focus on cultural responsiveness to the candidates ' needs, their rural settings, and high populations of Latino/a students in the rural areas in which they were trained is presented. Assessment of each implementation phase guided program practice for the participants ' training as effective teachers. Relevant discussion indicates that even with responses to the pre-service teachers ' academic, social, and financial needs, issues of communication and barriers imposed by distances emerged. Additionally, while collaborative bonds among the partner institutions facilitated the candidates ' training as effective teachers, the building of multi-institutional partnerships concurrently with the implementation phases caused participants and implementers stress.

Key words: Culturally and linguistically diverse; teacher preparation program; distance education; rural.

The realities of teacher education programs in the 21st century require that prospective teachers know how to effectively teach an increasingly diverse population of children. Unfortunately, the teacher education system has persistently shown an inability to recruit and retain minority teachers who share the same racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds of these diverse students (Gay, Dingus, & Jackson, 2003). With culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students now representing approximately 45% of our public school populations (Noel & Sable, 2010), recruiting and retaining teachers of color is a critical issue. Thus, more institutions of higher education across the United States are considering that strong relationships and shared beliefs among school-anduniversity-based faculty can transform teacher education programs to positively increase the number of teachers of color who can effectively meet the needs of CLD children (Bemal & Aragon, 2004).

The purpose of this study is to describe one such collaborative effort among several educational institutions in an attempt to diversify a particular rural region's teachers by designing and delivering a culturally responsive teacher preparation program to rural CLD candidates. Implications drawn from the program and its participants' training as effective, culturally competent educators reflect a critical need for systemic and collaborative change in the educational continuum that more effectively addresses the historic problems faced in teacher recruitment, retention, and preparation (CochranSmith, 2004).

Interesting circumstances occurring in the rural Midwest involve the issues of increased student diversity and teacher recruitment and retention. To explain, similar to national trends, rural areas in the Midwest are experiencing significant growth in Latino/a populations (US Census Bureau, 2008). Too often a Latino/a student's educational landscape is a "rocky terrain" (Valenciana, Weisman, & Flores, 2006, p. 82) that may be additionally compounded by a mismatch between his/her Latino/a cultural and historical background and the racial and ethnic makeup of his/her teachers. Rural local educational agencies are confronted with meeting the educational needs of its Latino/a students by employing highly effective teachers - an issue that becomes additionally problematic as remote, rural areas are frequently challenged to recruit and retain any teacher (Achinstein, Ogawa, Sextion, & Freitas, 2010). As in the current study, geographic location and access to resources serve as major hindrances for local school districts in recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers (Gutierrez, 2006).

Contextual Factors

In rural areas, thus, the problem of recruiting, retaining, and preparing diverse teachers is compounded with the issue of distance. …

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