Multicultural Awareness Boosts Teaching Competency, But Is an Uneven Resource Among Future Teachers

Source: http://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2017/december/multicultural-awareness-boosts-teaching-competency–but-is-an-un.html

Prior Experience Working with Youth of Color Linked to More Multicultural Awareness

 

Student teachers with more multicultural awareness foster more positive classroom environments for their students, finds a new study by NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and published in the Journal of Teacher Education.

However, multicultural awareness varies considerably among future teachers based on their own race or ethnicity and prior experience working with youth of color.

Multicultural awareness – which refers to an awareness of, comfort with, and sensitivity toward issues of cultural diversity in the classroom – is crucial to teachers’ abilities to promote positive outcomes for all students. Despite decades of policy reforms that emphasize the importance of multicultural awareness, few comparative studies have examined its prevalence in students preparing to be teachers (also known as preservice teachers) or the link between multicultural awareness and future teachers’ measured competencies.

“In light of the persistent demographic divide between a predominantly White teaching force and evermore racially and ethnically diverse schools, current and future educators’ abilities to create inclusive classroom environments are critical for fostering student success,” said Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng, assistant professor of international education at NYU Steinhardt and the study’s lead author.

In this study, the researchers used unique data of preservice teachers’ beliefs and student teacher performance assessments to ask whether levels of multicultural awareness vary by characteristics such as race and ethnicity, education, and prior experience working with diverse youth, as well as whether multicultural awareness shapes teaching competency.

Surveys on multicultural beliefs were collected from 2,473 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in teacher certification programs at a private U.S. university between 2010 and 2015. About 60 percent of the students surveyed (1,498) were also observed and evaluated by master teachers while student teaching.

The researchers found that multicultural beliefs are tied to student teachers’ ability to create strong and nurturing classroom environments, measured during student teaching observations by master teachers.

“Our study underscores the importance of equipping all teachers with essential multicultural knowledge, skills, and dispositions,” added Cherng.

The researchers also found that Black and Latino preservice teachers report greater multicultural awareness than their White counterparts. Asian American preservice teachers report having the least multicultural awareness.

“These differences are consistent with prior research that finds that Black and Latino teachers, drawing upon their own identities and experiences as racial minorities, are often more aware of and sensitive toward cultural differences,” said Cherng. “What is less clear is why Asian Americans report having lower levels of multicultural awareness. It is possible that Asian American student teachers believe that multicultural education, like other discourses on race that make little mention of Asian Americans, does not include or embrace their identities.”

Preservice teachers, particularly Latinos and Asian Americans, who had prior experience working with students of color had higher levels of multicultural awareness.

“This finding suggests that educators may develop a stronger racial consciousness through working with youth of color,” Cherng said.

Preservice teachers in different content area and grade-level programs reported different levels of multicultural awareness. For example, compared to future teachers in early childhood programs, those in math, science, and social studies programs had lower levels of multicultural awareness.

The researchers urge that their findings be used to inform teacher education policy and meaningfully focus both curriculum and instruction on preservice teachers that would benefit most from multicultural awareness.

The study can also inform teacher recruitment efforts. For example, since they found that prior experience working with youth of color is linked with more multicultural awareness, recruitment efforts could focus on community organizations that serve diverse youth.

“Through a deeper understanding of the relationships between preservice teachers’ background characteristics, multicultural beliefs, and evolving teaching competencies, our study contributes to our understanding of preparing teachers for diverse classrooms and prompts further investigation into developing cultural competence in teaching,” said Cherng.

Laura Davis of New York University coauthored the study with Cherng.

About the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development (@nyusteinhardt)
Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development prepares students for careers in the arts, education, health, media, and psychology. Since its founding in 1890, the Steinhardt School’s mission has been to expand human capacity through public service, global collaboration, research, scholarship, and practice. To learn more about NYU Steinhardt, visit steinhardt.nyu.edu.

Love Has No Labels | Diversity & Inclusion | Ad Council

Published on Mar 3, 2015

While the vast majority of Americans consider themselves unprejudiced, many of us unintentionally make snap judgments about people based on what we see—whether it’s race, age, gender, religion, sexuality, or disability. The Love Has No Labels campaign challenges us to open our eyes to our bias and prejudice and work to stop it in ourselves, our friends, our families, and our colleagues. Rethink your bias at http://www.lovehasnolabels.com

If Your Teacher Looks Like You, You May Do Better In School

Source: http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/09/29/552929074/if-your-teacher-looks-likes-you-you-may-do-better-in-school

If Your Teacher Looks Like You, You May Do Better In School

Having a teacher that looks like you may help you succeed in school.

Zai Wei Zhang for NPR

Think back to grade school for a moment and envision that one teacher who could captivate you more than any other. Did that teacher look a bit like you? One recent study says: probably.

There’s mounting evidence that when black students have black teachers, those students are more likely to graduate high school. That new study takes this idea even further, providing insight into the way students actually think and feel about the teachers who look like them and those who don’t.

Here’s how it worked:

  • Researchers surveyed more than 80,000 public school students, grades four through eight, across six different states.
  • These students were asked to evaluate how well their teachers led their classrooms.
  • The researchers paid special attention to the way students — black, white and Hispanic — in the same classes rated the same teachers.

The study found that when students had teachers of the same race as them, they reported feeling more cared for, more interested in their schoolwork and more confident in their teachers’ abilities to communicate with them. These students also reported putting forth more effort in school and having higher college aspirations.

When students had teachers who didn’t look like them, the study found, they reported lower levels of these feelings and attitudes. These trends were most visible in black students, especially black girls.

These findings support the idea that students do better in school when they can view their teachers as role models, says Brian Kisida, who coauthored the paper. And if that teacher looks like you, you might perceive them as precisely that, a role model.

One problem: a growing number of students don’t have teachers who look like them. The majority of students in public school are students of color, while most teachers identify as white. And this so-called teacher-diversity gap likely contributes to racial disparities in academic performance.

“The national achievement gap is unidirectional,” says Anna Egalite, another coauthor. Students who are white fare far better than students who aren’t, and that might have something to do with the relative homogeneity of teachers. According to recent statistics, just 18 percent of teachers were people of color.

But a more diverse population of teachers alone won’t help students of color, says Gloria Ladson-Billings, a professor of education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. To change attitudes and behaviors about school, she says, “We need teachers who view their students of color as whole people.”

And that’s key because diversifying the teaching force might take a while. But one thing policymakers can do to shrink the achievement gap, Egalite and Kisida say, is pay attention to the things students of color say they appreciate about having teachers who look like them. Only then, they say, can practitioners train teachers to communicate with diverse bodies of students.

Christine Sleeter addresses problems in ethnic studies curriculum

Source: https://collegian.com/2017/09/christine-sleeter-addresses-problems-in-ethnic-studies-curriculum/

Christine Sleeter addresses problems in ethnic studies curriculum

Dr. Christine Sleeter speaks at the Diversity Symposium
Author, teacher and activist Dr. Christine Sleeter speaks about multicultural awareness in education at the 17th Annual Diversity Symposium in the LSC. The speech featured the changing analytics among ethnicities in the classroom and stressed engaging in multicultural historical viewpoints. (Brooke Buchan | Collegian)

Activist Christine Sleeter is white, from a community with very little diversity, and admitted she knew almost nothing about her student’s background when she began teaching in Seattle.

Sleeter, an author and a teacher in addition to activist, spoke about how the teaching of ethnic studies, or the lack thereof, can be improved. Sleeter spoke in the Lory Student Center Thursday night as part of Colorado State University’s week-long Diversity Symposium.

Sleeter emphasized the importance of having multicultural education and an ability to think critically about what other groups have to go through. She said in doing so, people will start to become agents of social change.

“I mean, we have a president who can’t even figure out how to get resources to Puerto Rico,” Sleeter said.

Sleeter said changes in teaching styles and curriculum can be an effective way to get students to think more critically about their culture and the cultures of others.

School textbooks that are heavily focused on white perspectives are just one problem, according to Sleeter. Of those who teach K-12, 84 percent are white, Sleeter said; the combination can lead to classes that leave out important topics regarding multiple ethnic groups.

“The fragmented inclusion of people of color in the dominant curriculum leaves students of color feeling like, as Caroline Turner put it, guests in someone else’s house,” Sleeter said.

She said ethnic studies can give people the ability to address social problems. Sleeter said she wants to implement several strategies to create positive change in classrooms. Teachers need to treat students as intellectuals and develop strong relationships with them, according to Sleeter.

“Teaching involves collaboration with students, co-construction with students,” Sleeter said. “It isn’t just sage on the stage giving knowledge to students.”

Sleeter said classroom curriculum should focus on examining real social problems in student communities. Students should examine the roots of these problems, collect data and ultimately propose solutions to offer to their community.

Freshman biochemistry student Matthew Funk said he could relate to a lot about what Sleeter talked about, as he went to an elementary school where the majority of students were Latino. He said these topics should be articulated more at CSU where the demographic is dominantly white.

“These are issues that are important to understand and to be able to talk to each other about,” Funk said.

Funk said he agreed with a lot of the strategies Sleeter suggested regarding curriculum changes in K-12 schools, but thinks the logistics of implementing these changes could prove challenging.

Sleeter ended the evening with the idea that ethnic studies is not limited to one subject within a curriculum. She told a story of a former colleague, who wanted to infuse ethnic studies with his biology course. Her colleague wanted to examine how different world views influenced health and an understanding of science.

“It takes somebody looking at their discipline through an ethnic studies lens,” Sleeter said. “If you can make biology and ethnic studies go together, you can make everything go together.”

Collegian reporter Ty Betts can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @TyBetts9

Emerging Issues and Trends in Education (International Race and Education Series)

I was pleased to write the Foreword for this new publication “Emerging Issues and Trends in Education” edited by Theodore S. Ransaw and Richard Majors and published by Michigan State University Press.

As classrooms across the globe become increasingly more diverse, it is imperative that educators understand how to meet the needs of students with varying demographic backgrounds. Emerging Issues and Trends in Education presents case studies from academics who have all at one point been teachers in K–12 classrooms, addressing topics such as STEM as well as global issues related to race, gender education, education policy, and parental engagement. The contributors take an international approach, including research about Nigerian, Chinese, Native American, and Mexican American classrooms. With a focus on multidisciplinary perspectives, Emerging Issues and Trends in Education is reflective of the need to embrace different ways of looking at problems to improve education for all students.