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Preparing Teachers for Diverse Schools: Lessons from Minority Serving Institutions

Max Marchitello
Justin Trinidad
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Title image for Bellwether publication Preparing Teachers for Diverse Schools, March 2019Students of color are underserved by our public schools, as evidenced by large and persistent achievement gaps. And while diversifying the educator workforce is important to addressing these inequities, it is not a sufficient solution on its own. In addition to working toward increasing diversity, teacher preparation programs need to better prepare future educators to teach in diverse classrooms. In fact, providing students of color with a high-quality education should become the focus of teacher preparation.

Preparing Teachers for Diverse Schools: Lessons from Minority Serving Institutions” looks at how schools can revise policies, practices, and curricula to address the impact of race, gender, and class, and thereby better prepare educators to serve an increasingly diverse student population.

This paper relies on the expertise of minority serving institutions, which have a long history of successfully preparing teachers to provide high-quality education to students of color. From interviews with more than 20 experts and practitioners and a comprehensive literature review, we highlight three key future goals for teacher preparation programs:

  • Integrate cultural awareness into the curriculum and equip teacher candidates with critical skills to support students of color.
  • Provide field experiences early and often, and ensure that teacher candidates engage with a diverse range of students and other educators.
  • Increase faculty and student diversity.

To realize these goals, we make eight recommendations for teacher preparation programs to consider, including:

  • Embed principles of culturally relevant pedagogy and multicultural education throughout a program.
  • Take measures against overburdening teacher candidates of color while white candidates interrogate their biases and identities.
  • Build strong community partnerships to better prepare candidates for the diverse schools and students they will serve.

Schools of education and teacher preparation programs hold great responsibility in addressing systemic education inequities. We simply cannot afford to wait for the racial makeup of the teaching workforce to match that of the student population. Teacher preparation programs can take concrete steps to ensure that educators are adequately prepared to teach today’s students.

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