Erin Alathea Ronder

We humans have two great problems: the first is knowing when to begin; the second is knowing when to stop. ~ Paulo Coelho

La Propuesta 2009 - Call to Action proposal 2009

Overview

 “How do we prepare a homogeneous population of teacher candidates to meet the diverse instructional needs of 21st Century students?” (p.211), asks Dr. Nancy Chicola of the State University of New York.  Multiple ways exist for addressing this question.  For my contribution to solving the problem, I propose an exchange program for the pre-service teachers attending the College of Education at Texas State University-San Marcos.  Texas State University, as an institution that graduates a substantial number of the teachers for the state of Texas, has a responsibility to have teacher education program content that is specifically relevant to the diverse populations found in Texas public schools.

That being said, Texas has an enormous need for bilingual and ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers, as well as teachers who are culturally competent and able to communicate in an authentic way that reaches parents and their communities.  I may need to point out that this is the fastest growing population of learners in our schools and they have the highest attrition rate of all sub populations in the country.  These students have particular needs that can be met by schools, but schools, teachers, parents, and children need the support of universities and their teacher education programs.

Five critical areas have been identified by Gay (2002) which need to be addressed and are the responsibility of teacher training programs when preparing teachers to work with the diversity that these teachers will find in their classrooms:

·         developing a culturally diverse knowledge base;

·         designing culturally relevant curricula;

·         demonstrating cultural caring and building a learning community;

·         building effective cross-cultural communications;

·         and delivering culturally responsive instruction.

I commit to developing a solid teacher exchange relationship between student teachers at Texas State University-San Marcos and the whole language teachers at Casa Xelaju in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.  Casa Xelaju (shay-la-Hoo') is a socially-responsible educational institute in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala promoting cross-cultural understanding through its Spanish, Quiche languages, and cultural programs, social projects, internships, and volunteer work.  The school offers a complete Spanish Immersion Program, as well as courses in K'iche' language, Spanish for Educators and Health Care Professionals and Spanish Literature classes. As a fully accredited Spanish as second language teaching institution, they offer courses and internships designed to earn college or university credits during a semester abroad in Guatemala.

I have negotiated a reciprocal exchange program for pre-service teachers between Texas State University and Casa Xelaju.  The purpose of this exchange is to help develop culturally responsive public schools for the growing population of English Language Learners (ELLs) in Texas.  In this proposal, the University will sponsor a program that allows for these pre-service teachers to work during 3 consecutive summers in Guatemala for 4 weeks each time (for a total of 150 contact hours) and earn course credit at Texas State University-San Marcos.  These pre-service teachers will attend Spanish language and culture classes 4 hours a day and work with K-12 students in both private and public school settings for 2 hours a day. In addition, each pre-service teacher will sponsor and work with one of the students of La Pedrera for 2 hours a day. 

This proposal is part of the process of raising awareness of and support for the education of the indigenous peoples of the Guatemalan highlands while simultaneously providing opportunities for pre-service teachers from the U.S. to develop a deeper understanding of Latino culture, best practices in the field of English as a Second Language strategies and the needs of these students.  Teacher education programs must address the culture gap existing between many pre-service teachers and the student populations they will serve (Chicola, 2007; Banks, 1997; Gay, 2000).  In answer to this great need, I have developed this proposal for a pilot program that could begin implementation in 2010 through a partnership between Texas State University-San Marcos and the College of Education and the teachers of Casa Xelaju. 

Roadblocks to the execution of this teacher exchange proposal are many.  Accreditation and funding have been a sticking point for creating a formal program such as this at the university level.  However, new leadership at the university has specifically fast tracked program plans to address this growing population of learners in its teacher preparatory course offerings. As a Development Coordinator for a Texas charter school, I have a two year history of successfully employing multiple strategies for fund raising over $100,000 annually.  The Clinton Global Initiative University support with enhancing connections with organizations and agencies such as Unicef and Unesco, as well as the support of the Pat Tillman Foundation and Walmart Foundation, we will be well on our way to formalizing the program.

Target population and key stakeholders

The primary stakeholders in my commitment to action are the pre-service teachers in Texas, because “teachers need to acquire the skill of deeply understanding the cultural norms other than their own…this sensitivity needs to be instilled during teacher training” (Le Roux, 2001, p.45).  Secondary stakeholders include master language teachers in Guatemala, students in both Texas and Guatemala who will benefit from the training these teachers will receive, and local communities who will employ these culturally responsive teachers. Tertiary stakeholders will be the institutions that house and sponsor this program, e.g. Texas State University-San Marcos, Casa Xelaju/ La Pedrera and the Clinton Global Initiative.  The exchange program, scholarships for pre-service teachers who participate in the program, a support office at Texas State University, and training provided by Casa Xelaju for the pre-service teachers will all be the means for responding to the needs of these stakeholders.

Partnerships

This is an individual commitment that has been inspired and supported by the former Dean of the College of Education, Dr. John Beck and now the present Dean, Dr. Rosalinda Barrera.  In 2007, Dr. Barrera hired me to work with her to coordinate the English Language Learners Task Force for the College of Education.  This task force is a partnership between Texas State University, the E3Alliance, NGOs, central Texas school district superintendents and businesses with the goal of to identifying and addressing the needs of ELLs (English Language Learners). 

I have already formalized a relationship with Texas State University and Casa Xelaju and have the support of the Dean of the College of Education and the Director of La Pedrera for this project.  Over a period of several years, I garnered the support of the whole language teachers at Casa Xelaju while working with their organization.  The Dean is launching a new certification program for pre-service teachers at Texas State for ESL and bilingual teachers that she believes will benefit from a formal exchange program such as this.  Additionally, multiple professors at Texas State University are supportive of this effort and would like to be listed as sponsoring professors. 

Teachers are calling for programs such as this.  One study concluded that, “recommendations suggested by teachers centered on improving the quality of the student teaching experiences for prospective teachers, such as immersing student teachers in different cultural environments (or) requiring new teachers to live and teach in another country for at least a semester” (Phuntsog, 2001, p.60).  The views and engagement of multiple and very significant stakeholders are strong evidence of support and partnership necessary to see the proposal to implementation.

Sustainability

My hope is that the commitment will become an integral part of the new teacher education programming at the College of Education at Texas State University for pre-service teachers seeking ESL or bilingual certification.  The University’s goal is for this program to attract teachers from all over the country, thus enhancing the reputation of our school.  If this effort is successful, the University may provide the bulk of the funding in the future.  This funding could be supported through tuition as well as Teacher Quality grants made available through the federal stimulus.

Documentation of Impact    

Texas State University currently has a well-documented and published action research program in teacher preparation at the Master’s degree level.  The first method of determining impact will be documented and published in this way in national and international publications.  Additionally, it is hoped that the fully developed program will be included in the College course offerings and approved by our regional accrediting agency.  Lastly, graduation numbers of students involved in this program, coupled with the increased numbers of those enrolled in this program will provide additional support its success.

Innovation

Casa Xelaju in Quetzaltneango, Guatemala can be utilized as a sister school to provide Texas teachers with in depth training for those teachers who wish to work in neighborhood schools with a high population of ELLs, but who lack the opportunity for specialized training at the University level.  There is currently no teacher education program of its kind at Texas State University, or any other university in the state of Texas, to address the growing need for qualified teachers to serve this increasing population of learners.  We currently have the ability and responsibility to move forward with this component in the national school reform movement.  The initiative can serve as a model to address a growing challenge in many nations around the world:

“Today, many teachers realize the mismatch between their own life experiences and professional training and the cultural backgrounds of most of their students.  Almost everywhere in the world, an increasingly diverse school population encounters a predominantly white middle-class teaching force that is inadequately prepared to manage the reality of diversity in school.  Internationally, the general tendency (with few exceptions) is for teacher training programmes to neglect or ignore diversity issues in formal education.  Effective teacher training provides students with more exposure to real life issues that exist in schools for diverse student populations.  The problem often results in teachers regarding themselves and their own socio-cultural experiences as primary sources of relevant practitioner expertise” (Le Roux, 2001, p.46).

 

Potential for Replication

As a pilot program, we will spend our first year building replicable infrastructure and protocols.  Successes and opportunities will be made available to the state, the nation, and the world by scholarly journal publications and presentations at regional, national, and international conferences.  The E3 Alliance, of which Texas State University-San Marcos is a primary member, will also serve to provide support for and promotion of this program for school districts across the state.  I plan on attending the next CGUI 2010 at the University of Miami to spread the word and encourage other university officials to follow our model for creating a formalized teacher exchange program to promote culturally and linguistically competent teachers. My goal is to see programs such as this one be made available at every major university offering a teaching credential.

Leveraging Available Resources

As mentioned above, Texas State University-San Marcos is a founding member of the E3 Alliance.  The primary goal of this alliance is to work with businesses, non-profits and school district leadership to enhance educational opportunities for ELLs.  The College of Education has set up an ELL Task Force, of which I am a contributing member.  The College also plans to launch its new certification program for ESL and bilingual teachers in the fall of 2010. Additionally, the College has maintained programs such as the MELL (Mathematics for English Language Learners) and STELLAR (Science and Technology for English Language Learners). All of these factors and programs illustrate the potential of the University for developing, integrating and maintaining a unique program such as this with strong potential for future community, nationally, and international engagement.

Conclusion

            If we want our public schools to ensure that all children and youth have equal access to quality education, we must focus on the way teachers are prepared to create multiple learning environments for meeting the varying experiences, needs and interests of all students from culturally diverse backgrounds (Phuntsog, 2001, p.51).  We know, as teachers, that the best way for our children to learn concept is for them to have direct, experiential learning opportunities.  We understand that book work can provide only so much comprehension.  We remember that, as pre-service teachers, all of the theory we covered meant very little in the context of our classrooms when faced with real life children and their experiences.  Now is the time to provide the next wave of teachers a significantly different and more relevant pre-service experience.  Let us prepare teachers so that teachers will stay longer than three years in the classroom.  Let us prepare them to love the classroom so much, because they understand where their students are coming from.  Let us have life-long learners and career-long teachers!

References:

 

Banks, J.A. (Ed.) (1997). Educating citizens in a multicultural society. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

 

Brown, M.R. (2007). Educating all students: Creating culturally responsive teachers, classrooms, and schools.  Intervention in School and Clinic, 43(1), 57-62.

 

Chicola, N.A. (2007). A view beyond tolerance: Teacher candidate experiences with culturally responsive education.  The International Journal of Learning, 14(8), 211-219.

 

Gay, G. (2000). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

 

Gay, G. (2002). Preparing for culturally responsive teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(2), 106-116.

 

Le Roux, J. (2001). Effective schooling is being culturally responsive. Intercultural Education, 12(1), 41-50.

 

Phuntsog, N.(2001). Culturally responsive teaching: What do selected United States elementary school teachers think?  Intercultural Education, 12(1), 51-64.

Appendix:

 

The process of my application to date

Phase One

September 11, 2008

Submitted proposal to www.clintonglobalinitiative.org

Phase Two

November 20, 2008

We are pleased to inform you that you have been selected to attend the 2009 CGI University (CGI U) meeting at The University of Texas at Austin February 13th – 15th, 2009.

Phase Three

January 29, 2009

We are pleased to inform you that you have been selected to exhibit information about your Commitment to Action at the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) Exchange. Held on Saturday, February 14th at the University of Texas at Austin, the Exchange is a new partnership-building feature of the CGI U Meeting.

Phase Four

February 10, 2009

I am delighted to inform you that your commitment, “Proyecto La Pedrera Intercambio de Las Maestras,” will be featured on stage at the Clinton Global Initiative University, 2009. Your commitment was selected from a larger pool of member commitments as an exemplary approach to addressing a specific global challenge.  Education Working Session 1: Visionary Leadership in Education and Social Change

Phase Five

March 6, 2009

Met with Dean Barrera of the College of Education to discuss the CGIU 2009 event.  She hired me to assist her with the development of the E3 Alliance ELL Task Force at Texas State University.  We have our first regional meeting next week with the representatives from 13 Central Texas school district second language directors, teachers, superintendents, as well as, business and non-profit leaders.

Phases Six

April 3, 2009

Submitted application for the Outstanding Commitment Award Grant for $25, 000 to provide seed money to begin the project at the campus level. I was assiosted in budget preparation by Kay Beauchamp, Assitant Director of the Office of Sponsored Programs.

Phase Seven

April 21, 2009

Registered for ED 7378 Independent Study with Dr. Ann Brooks and submitted scholarship to the Office of Study Abroad Programs for more fieldwork this August.

My proposal for the independent study course

An amazing opportunity has been presented to me and I must ask that you allow me to explore the full potential of this through an independent study course next semester.  I propose to utilize the Clinton Global Initiative University, which I have been invited to participate in, as mechanism to launch my dissertation as well as my career.  I have a short description of the Initiative as a whole.  Additionally, I have included the proposal for the content of the independent study course.

Under the supervision of Dr. Brooks, I will turn my “commitment to action” into a full scale action-oriented research project.  The Clinton Global Initiative is designed to support and encourage partnership building with people and organizations that can assist in making the commitment a reality.  Because of the multiple hours of working with these professionals to develop the proposal, I hope to come in contact with people and organizations that can not only help me develop my career, but provide an opportunity for collaboration between the Foundation and the University.

Written products that can be anticipated from this course will include, but not be limited to:

·         A professional program proposal

·         Documentation of the strategies employed in the development of this proposal as evidence of this social entrepreneurship project:

o   My dream (biography)

o   Online reflective journal (blog) outlining the obstacles and channels encountered

o   A booklet intended for on-line publication to assist others with identifying replicable strategies for their own social entrepreneurship projects.

·         A grant proposal to fund the project

About the Clinton Global Initiative

Welcome to the Clinton Global Initiative University! CGI U is much more than an event—it’s a community of action-oriented student activists who will collaborate throughout the year on strategies to address global challenges. At the core of the CGI model is the Commitment to Action, which ties dialogue on global problems with tangible efforts to address them.  Our Commitments Department assists CGI U participants in cultivating Commitments to Action that are novel and scaleable, specific and measurable. Throughout your relationship with CGI U, our department will continue to help you craft the most effective and successful Commitment to Action, and provide you with support in the form of capacity- and partnership-building.

The CGI U Meeting concentrates on challenges to and opportunities for change across five focus areas: Education, Energy & Climate Change, Global Health, Peace & Human Rights, and Poverty Alleviation.

Meeting events are arranged around plenary sessions, working sessions, skill sessions, and meet-ups, all of which allow you to interact with one another and formulate plans of action for your commitments.

Budget Proposal and Timeline

 

A timeline for the completion of the Commitment to Action, including projected milestones and key actions.

 

October 2009 

I will return to Guatemala to lay more formalized ground work at Casa Xelaju

April 2010

Attend CGIU 2010 to report back on progress and garner national support

May 2010

Texas State to launch Office of Proyecto La Pedrera Intercambio de las Maestras

June 2010

Curriculum alignment within the teacher certification program

July 2010

Presentation of course proposal to SACS for approval

Scholarship program formalized

December 2010

Office of Study Abroad Programs to integrate program into systems

January 2011

Promote program and scholarship applications out

March 2011

Additional grants “letter of intent” follow up

April 2011

Notification of awards to scholarship recipients

May 2011

Travel arrangements confirmed for exchange participants

June 2011

First cohort of exchange students to attend program

 

A budget detailing the following: Annual expenditures of Commitment to Action

ex.  budget proposal is for 9 months starting in Fall 2010-Spring 2011.

 

Program Coordinator (9 month-.50 time position):

This graduate student/staff member will work 20 hours per week to develop program alignment between the state of Texas, Texas State University-San Marcos and Casa Xelaju/La Pedrera. 

These tasks will include but not be limited to:

  • Phone calls, emails, faxes to participating institutions.
  • Guiding leadership at Texas State University-San Marcos into fully integrating the program into the College of Education
  • Curriculum alignment with Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Coordinating with the Office of Study Abroad Programs
  • Coordination scholarships for participating teachers
  • Writing additional funding requests from foundations, federal and state sources
  • Working with additional staffing provided by the university.

 

Wages $10,413

Benefits $130.00

Total wages and benefits $10,543

Scholarships (4 at $2000) $8,000

Total Direct Costs $18,543

Total F&A (indirect) costs $5,007

Award requested $23,550

 

Other sources and quantities of income and support

The College of Education will presumably supply in-kind:

  • Office space to house the exchange program
  • Provision of auxiliary resources (ie. computer, phone, paper, etc.)
  • Provision of additional .50 time staff member position {at $10, 543}

Total amount of project for 2010-2011 school year:  $34,093

 

Evidence of the Portfolio Planning Matrix criteria found here for:

 

 L1

 Foster life-long learning in self

 L2

 Facilitate professional growth for self


 E1

 Provide leadership to a learning organization

 E2

 Facilitate the change process

 E3

 Facilitate group development and group processes

 E4

 Facilitate professional growth for others

 E5

 Foster life-long learning in others

 E6

 Apply epistimology and learning theory to practice

 E7

 Apply principals and practices of adult teaching and learning

 E8

 Facilitate human resource and professional development for learners in occupational, professional and volunteer roles

 E9

 Plan and develop learning program responsive to human professional and community settings

 E10

 Lead and manage the delivery of educational programs in post secondary, adult and community settings

 E11

 Facilitate school improvement efforts


 S1

 Engage in scholarly research, writing and presentations

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