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.