Lead the change in the classroom

Our BA in Elementary Education, with an endorsement in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education, provides a focused path for those interested in becoming public school elementary teachers. Our program recognizes that U.S. schools have a long and troubled history of perpetuating inequality and injustice — advantaging certain students, while disadvantaging others. Thus, we aim to prepare reflective, ethical and responsive teachers who are committed to making the world more equitable and just, through their work in public schools and the communities they serve.

Students in our program learn to disrupt the status quo by treating all students with dignity and care and ensuring that every student has access to powerful opportunities to learn. Through engaging and rigorous coursework and practical experiences in public schools serving diverse learners along the Front Range, this degree offers a pathway towards a bachelor’s degree, teacher licensure for kindergarten through 6th grades, plus an endorsement in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education. Endorsement classes prepare educators to work with culturally and linguistically diverse populations, including bilingual learners, who make up nearly 25% of Colorado's school age population.

Guiding Principles

Our elementary teacher education program is guided by six intertwined principles that ground our work and that we — faculty, students and alumni — strive to live up to across our program.

Teachers who are equipped to facilitate learning among students in public schools:

  • Engage in humanizing pedagogies
  • Are critically conscious
  • Embrace a holistic view of bilingualism
  • Hold a dynamic view of culture
  • Design classrooms and instruction and enact teaching practices grounded in research about equity-centered learning and knowledge of learners
  • View themselves as agents of change, who advocate on behalf of minoritized students, including bilingual learners, and their families

Teachers who are equipped to facilitate learning among students in U.S. public schools:

 Engage in humanizing pedagogies. Becoming/being a humanizing educator involves recognizing the humanity and upholding the dignity of each of our students, honoring the inherent value and resources for learning that all students bring to school, and treating students with care. Humanizing teachers demonstrate their high regard for students in a range of ways. They make efforts to invest in and notice children; to build authentic relationships with them; to value their perspectives; and to attend seriously to their thinking, curiosities and capabilities. Humanizing teaching is not the same thing as taking pity on students; nor is it generic or universal. Rather, it involves positioning students as sense-makers and knowledge-generators, who desire to invest and succeed in school. It also involves teaching in culturally and linguistically sustaining ways, centering the knowledges and practices of minoritized communities, and promoting their sustainability in schools. Importantly, becoming a humanizing teacher also depends on honoring one’s own humanity, caring for oneself, and committing to critically reflecting on oneself over a lifetime.

​ Are critically conscious. Developing critical consciousness involves rejecting the idea that teaching can ever be neutral and instead using a critical lens to understand schools, society, and the self. Importantly, as a program that includes an endorsement in culturally and linguistically diverse education, our definition of critical consciousness also includes critical socio-linguistic consciousness, or the understanding that the bilingual learner population is diverse and reflects rich and varied cultural and linguistic resources. Critically conscious teachers understand that schools operate within the context of larger social systems and structures. They recognize that educational inequities stem from structural barriers, rather than failures of individual students, families, or communities. They acknowledge that, if educators are not vigilant, teaching can perpetuate societal injustices related to race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, class and language Further, critically conscious teachers do more than understand injustice; they work to disrupt it. Critically conscious teachers challenge deficit language and ideologies about minoritized students; use asset-based instructional approaches that center and honor students’ knowledges, practices, experiences and interests; wrestle with, rather than readily accept, educational policies and practices; and look inward to critically reflect on their own identities, positionalities and privilege.

​ Embrace a holistic view of bilingualism. A holistic view of bilingualism treats the mixing of multiple languages as a normal expression of bilingualism and competency. Teachers who hold this view recognize that bilingual learners are diverse and that there are multiple paths to childhood bilingualism; they, therefore, teach flexibly and across a range of settings in their efforts to support students’ bilingualism. Teachers who embrace a holistic view of bilingualism understand that bilingual learners are competent users and learners of language. They recognize that such students have the potential to learn—and to learn in—more than one language, either simultaneously or sequentially.

​ Hold a dynamic view of culture. Holding a dynamic view of culture means understanding that culture is something that is always in motion and is most accurately expressed through what people do, or what we might think of as people’s everyday practices. Teachers who hold a dynamic view of culture resist thinking about children in stereotypical or compartmentalized ways and instead work to understand the range of cultural communities and practices that shape students’ intersectional identities. They are aware that no one is culture-free and that everyone, including themselves, participate in a range of cultural practices. Embracing this complexity enables teachers to teach in culturally sustaining ways—to design and deliver instruction that invites students to bring their full selves into the classroom.

​ Design classrooms and instruction, and enact teaching practices, grounded in research about equity-centered learning and knowledge of learners. Teachers must design learning environments that are explicitly geared toward promoting equity and in which all children are engaged in robust and consequential learning. The physical layout of classrooms, materials available, and ways of organizing participation represent interactions, moves, and contexts in which the other principles come to life. Thoughtful design of classrooms and instruction is a crucial factor in students’ opportunities to access connection, content, and skills and demonstrate their understandings. Deep knowledge of students, content, and pedagogy, along with creativity and passion, fuels both learning and teaching.

​ View themselves as agents of change, who advocate on behalf of minoritized students, including bilingual learners, and their families. Our program recognizes that schools are built upon a long, troubled, and ongoing history of marginalization. Thus, we are committed to preparing teachers who are motivated to advocate for minoritized students, families, and communities in order to disrupt the status quo. Our coursework is based on the understanding that, in order to be agents of change and advocates for students, teachers need to: a) hold considerable knowledge about how history, policy, and the law shape what happens in schools; b) take initiative to act on behalf of students, rather than assuming it’s “someone else’s job”; and c) have opportunities to practice their advocacy and agency in the context of their preparation coursework.

Imagine yourself in classes where you...

  • Come to understand schools’ potential to either uphold the status quo or advance social justice
  • Learn as part of a close-knit learning community, where you will experience small classes led by supportive, nationally renowned faculty
  • Work with elementary teachers and students in public school and community settings along the Front Range
  • Design and deliver rigorous, responsive instruction for students from a range of communities, including students who are bilingual learners
  • Develop the skills to advocate for diverse learners, inside and outside of schools
  • Practice engaging with and learning from families and communities from a range of backgrounds

 For more information about program requirements and courses, visit the CU Boulder Course Catalog.  

If you are interested in a degree in another area combined with secondary teacher licensure for grades 7-12, explore our teacher licensure program.

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