Lead the change in the classroom

Our BA in Elementary Education, with an endorsement in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education, aims to prepare anti-racist, public school elementary teachers. Our faculty recognizes that U.S. schools have a long and troubled history of perpetuating racial and other forms of inequality and injustice — advantaging certain students, while disadvantaging others. Thus, our program is designed to facilitate the preparation of 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 field 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, anti-racist pedagogies
  • Are critically conscious
  • Embrace a holistic view of bilingualism
  • Hold a dynamic view of culture
  • Design curriculum and instruction and enact teaching practices grounded in deep knowledge of learners and in research about anti-racist, justice-centered learning
  • View themselves as agents of change, who advocate on behalf of and in solidarity with 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, anti-racist 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, anti-racist 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, lived experiences and capabilities. Humanizing teaching is never about taking pity on students or seeking to “save” them; nor is it generic or universal. Rather, it involves teaching in anti-racist, culturally and linguistically sustaining ways, centering the knowledges and practices of minoritized communities, and promoting their sustainability in schools. It also involves positioning students as sense-makers and knowledge-generators, who desire to invest and succeed in school. Humanizing teaching additionally depends on honoring one’s own humanity, caring for, 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. As a justice-oriented 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 and they critically analyze their role within those systems. 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. They actively challenge racism and recognize how racism fuels deficit language and ideologies about minoritized students; use 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 languaging practices of bilingual and bidialectal speakers, including the integration of multiple languages and language varieties in everyday speech, as a normal expression of their linguistic competency. Teachers who hold this view recognize that there are multiple paths to childhood bilingualism as bilingual learners represent a variety of language experiences, histories, and knowledges; teachers, therefore, teach flexibly across a range of settings in their efforts to nurture students’ bilingual potential and to sustain their everyday languaging practices. Teachers who embrace a holistic view of bilingualism recognize the ongoing role of racism in policies and practices surrounding bilingual students’ experiences in US schools, challenge that legacy, and understand that bilingual learners are accomplished users and learners of language. They recognize that such students have the right to learn—and to learn in—more than one language and language variety, in and out of school.

​ 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 and families 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 and (re)produce a range of cultural practices. Embracing this complexity enables teachers to teach in anti-racist, culturally sustaining ways—to design and deliver instruction that invites students to bring their full selves into the classroom, and that establishes and strengthens connections between the classroom, the school, families and the community.

​ Design curriculum and instruction, and enact teaching practices, grounded in deep knowledge of learners and in research about anti-racist, justice-centered learning. Teachers must design learning environments and experiences that are explicitly geared toward promoting equity and challenging racism, and in which all children are engaged in robust and consequential learning. The materials available, ways of organizing participation, and the physical layout of classrooms represent interactions, moves, and contexts in which the other principles come to life. Thoughtful design of curriculum and instruction and classrooms is crucial to 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 and in solidarity with minoritized students, including bilingual learners, and their families. Our program recognizes that schools are built upon a long, troubled, and ongoing history of racism, linguicism, homophobia, and other forms of marginalization. Thus, we are committed to preparing teachers who are motivated to advocate for minoritized and marginalized students, families, and communities and to engage anti-racism and an ethos of justice 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) view advocacy and agency as central aspects of their work, rather than assuming it’s “someone else’s job”; b) hold knowledge about how history, policy, and law shape what happens in schools and, in many cases, have been used to actively undermine the success and wellbeing of minoritized students; c) push back on oppressive systems, structures and practices as they act on behalf of and in solidarity with marginalized communities; d) have opportunities to engage in their own learning and unlearning, including 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 of racial inequality and other inequities 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 learners—especially those most marginalized by schools and society—inside and outside of schools
  • Practice learning from and acting in solidarity with families and communities in order to make schools more equitable and just. 

 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.

Next Steps