C. Sanjurjo, J. Perry Evenstad

Metropolitan State University of Denver (UNITED STATES)
This presentation will explain how professors of education can help prepare pre-service teachers to become culturally sensitive educators. The presentation will include materials, assignments and activities used in our multicultural education classes that help future teachers learn, understand and accept the cultural backgrounds of their students and how educators may include these in their teaching, in their lessons and in their curricula. Teachers who are inclusive of their students’ backgrounds help their students do better in school. The presentation will also include the GESA (Generating Expectations for Student Achievement) and how this program helps develop culturally sensitive teachers who can help their own students improve their academic and social achievement and attainment.

During the past two or three decades educational administrators in the United States have had difficulties in hiring teachers who can work with students from different cultural backgrounds. Demographic changes in the United States and awareness that people learn differently depending on their learning styles, their past experiences and their cultural backgrounds have brought to the forefront the need to change our approaches to teaching and to teacher preparation. This is when Multicultural Education provides us the outlook, approach and understanding on how culture and life experiences affect how we learn.

At Metropolitan State University in Denver all education students are required to take a multicultural education class as part of their license to teach program in our School of Education. For the past seven years I have taught a multicultural education class and also my colleague Dr. Jan Perry Evenstad, who is a renown multiculturalist and has taught the class for over five years. In our classes we cover topics that have the purpose of raising awareness of diversity issues that may emerge in the classroom when our pre-service teachers become teachers. Awareness of who I am and who are my students is the first stage towards becoming a culturally sensitive educator, a multiculturalist. In our classes we discuss issues such as the achievement gap between African Americans and Latinos and their European American counterparts and how to bridge this gap.

Our presentation will include an explanation of GESA which is a program that provides an inclusive approach for increasing the student achievement of all students regardless of race/ethnicity, gender, national origin/language, special needs, and socioeconomic status. According to Grayson (2012) GESA is especially effective with students from diverse cultural and language backgrounds, those in poverty, those with perceived developmental or physical challenges, those on nontraditional career paths, and science, technology, engineering and math students (STEM).

Our presentation will provide innovative ideas and practices for pre-service teachers on how to incorporate their students’ cultural backgrounds in their teachings and how this helps their students in their academic and social development.