10 SES 04 B, Parallel Paper Session
Parallel Paper Session
American society is becoming increasingly diverse, and this reality is reflected in the student demographics of the nation’s public schools. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, or NCES, the percentage of public school students who are from minority groups increased by 17 percent between 1972 and 2000; minority students now make up 39 percent of the total school population (NCES, 2010a). These students come from a wide range of family settings; for instance, aside from the diverse ethnic and cultural makeup of US the student body, more than half of school-age children do not live with both of their biological parents (Salend, 2001). Thus, students from numerous backgrounds enter the educational system on a daily basis.
In contrast to this diverse student population, teachers in the nation’s public schools are from a predominantly female, white and middle-class upbringing (Brookhart & Freeman, 1992; Feiman-Nemser & Remillard, 1996). According to the NCES (2010a), 79 percent of the teaching force in the United States in 2001 was female; only 21 percent was male. In terms of ethnicity, 90.7 percent of the teacher population was white, 7.3 percent was African American and two percent came from other racial groups (NCES, 2010b). Because today’s teacher candidates will be working with students whose culture, ethnicity, primary language, and socio-economic background are significantly different from their own, a “cultural divide” (Zeichner, 2003) can be said to exist between teachers and their students; therefore, prospective teachers should be well prepared to work with a diverse learner population.
In response to the increasing diversity of the US student population, teacher education programs have enhanced their curricula to educate student teachers with multicultural ideals. At the same time, the European Commission (2010) has specified four common principles for teacher education; one of these indicates that teachers should be educated to work with diverse learners. However, because teacher education programs in European Union (EU) member states need to be improved or changed in order to deal with matters such multiculturalism and gender issues more effectively (Buchberger, Campos, Kallos, & Stephenson, 2000), it is necessary for teacher educators in the EU to learn more about the experiences of preparing prospective teachers for multicultural ideals.
This qualitative study focuses on teacher educators’ perspectives and experiences on preparing future teachers for working with diverse student populations. The following questions guided this study:
1. What do a group of teacher educators from a large US university do to prepare pre-service teachers for working with multicultural ideals?
2. What can we, as teacher educators from Europe, learn from their experiences?
Brookhart, S. M., & Freeman, D. J. (1992). Characteristics of entering teacher candidates. Review of Educational Research, 62(1), 37-60. doi: 10.3102/00346543062001037 Buchberger, F., Campos, B. P., Kallos, D., & Stephenson, J. (2000). Green paper on Teacher education in Europe: High quality teacher education for high quality education and training. Retrieved January 5, 2012 from http://tntee.umu.se/publications/greenpaper/greenpaper.pdf European Commission (2010). Common European principles for teacher competences and qualifications. Retrieved from http://ec.europa.eu/education/policies/2010/doc/principles_en.pdf Feiman-Nemser, S., & Remillard, J. (1996). Perspectives on learning to teach. In F. Murray (Ed.). The teacher educator’s handbook: Building a knowledge base for the preparation of teachers (pp. 63-91). San Francisco: CA: Jossey Bass. Merriam, S. B. (2001). Qualitative research and case study applications in education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass. National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES). (2010a). Participation in education. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/2010/section1/table-1er-1.asp National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES). (2010b). Characteristics of full-time school teachers. Retrieved September 10, 2010, from http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/2010/section4/table-tsp-1.asp Salend, S. J. (2001). Creating inclusive classrooms: Effective and reflective practices (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill. Zeichner, K. M. (2003). The adequacies and inadequacies of three current strategies to recruit, prepare, and retain the best teachers for all students. Teachers College Record, 105(3), 490-519.
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