Diversifying the Field: Values, Voice, and Identity in Professional Development

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“The child attends the public school, and within a few months may come to despise that which he formerly held sacred.” David Blaustein, in his essay “Oppression and freedom” (1903) bemoans the cultural dissonance brought about by the Americanization and assimilation policies and practices of the late 19th and early 20th century. Now, social integration and access policies shape our discourse, yet our educational institutions still enact a form of assimilation and fail many students. As global mobility is increasing the diversity in schools all across the U.S. and Western Europe, cultural competence has become a necessity across many fields. In addition, diversity in the workforce is fundamental in the architecture of a new global society. Our universities are called upon to prepare teachers who represent, respect, and integrate the values and experiences immigrants bring. Diverse and well-prepared teachers can provide role models, facilitate partnerships with families, and make connections with cultural ways of learning.
Envisioning and practicing a strength-based pedagogy is paramount to an inclusive, successful teacher preparation program. This interactive session will present an approach that builds on the funds of knowledge (Moll et al, 2001) of practicing early childhood teachers of different ethnic backgrounds, in an initiative to support their career and educational development. The professional development program is sequenced to provide a stepped approach that moves from personal reflection and theory building to co-construction of meaning and texts with others. The presenter will share a values framework for teaching and learning, illustrated with vivid examples of activities and strategies that reflect cultural and linguistic responsive practice—including a focus on community involvement. Session participants will share their experiences with responsive curriculum and pedagogy and discuss the potential impact of this approach on their work with immigrant and linguistically diverse populations.

Keywords: Diversity, Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Pedagogy, Values, Teaching, Intercultural Education, Professional Development, Teacher Preparation
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
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Dr. Costanza Eggers-Piérola

Senior Associate for Research and Development, Learning and Teaching
Newton, Massachusetts, USA

Costanza Eggers-Piérola, Ed.D. has twenty-five years of experience as an educator, researcher, and developer, building institutional capacity to serve bilingual and immigrant children, families, and communities. Dr. Eggers-Piérola is a recipient of the 2004 Schott Fellowship in Early Care and Education, author of Connections and Commitments: Reflecting Latino Values in Early Childhood Programs, and co-author of Through My Own Eyes: Single Mothers and The Cultures of Poverty. Currently, she leads a Hispanic-serving college partnership initiative, developing a field-based program for diverse early childhood teachers and teaching assistants. The program emphasizes cultural issues, literacy development, and second language acquisition, and involves teachers in classroom inquiry. As a researcher, she has contributed to the understanding of English language learners' development of science knowledge, as well as to systemic reform efforts to increase access and equity. In Trinidad and Tobago, she conducted research to support the Ministry’s education reform initiative and in the Statewide Systemic Initiative, she evaluated New York State’s science, technology, math, science, and engineering education. At the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, she participated as faculty and evaluator in the ACCELA Alliance, a partnership including the university and three school districts serving high numbers of English language learners.

Ref: L09P1120