College of Education wins 2022 AACTE Best Practice Award in Support of Global and International Perspectives
As technology has increasingly made the world smaller, it’s more important than ever that educators are well versed in international perspectives and global competencies.
The College of Education at the University of Missouri–St. Louis has consistently made it a priority to prepare its teacher candidates to think and teach globally through instruction, international exchanges, professional development and research.
In recognition of these efforts, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education awarded UMSL the 2022 AACTE Best Practice Award in Support of Global and International Perspectives for its “Internationalizing Education at UMSL and Beyond” initiative on Feb. 16.
“The Internationalizing Education at UMSL and Beyond” project is a vital initiative in extending global and international perspectives in educator preparation,” said Lynn M. Gangone, AACTE president and CEO. “Initiatives like this forge the way to a globally diverse environment in our educator programming and into our school systems.”
The award is sponsored by AACTE’s Committee on Global Diversity and recognizes exemplary practice in intercultural, global, cross-cultural and international arenas.
Shea Kerkhoff, assistant professor of literacy, and Natalie Bolton, associate professor in the Department of Educator Preparation & Leadership, led the project with support from Nancy Singer, associate dean of the College of Education, and they will accept the award on March 6 at the AACTE 74th Annual Meeting in New Orleans.
Kerkhoff was grateful for the recognition and noted that it’s especially poignant due to current events.
“I’m excited that we were able to do this work and continue to do this work because COVID-19 has highlighted how globally connected and internationally related we are,” she said. “UMSL’s College of Education was very forward thinking in how it was infusing global perspectives and international perspectives in the teacher education program.”
Singer was thankful as well and commended Kerkhoff and Bolton’s work.
“The College of Education is committed to diversity in many arenas – locally, nationally and internationally,” Singer said. “We are honored to receive this award which highlights Drs. Bolton and Kerkhoff’s stellar work to prepare educators to work with all students.”
Kerkhoff explained that people across the globe have always been interconnected. However, with the advent of modern technology, particularly the internet, those connections are faster and closer than ever, making global perspectives essential in modern classrooms.
The goal of the Internationalizing Education at UMSL and Beyond initiative is to integrate global competence and globally competent teaching across multiple content areas through teacher education, international exchanges, professional development and research.
“Global readiness is the capacity to participate, interact and work with anyone from anywhere,” Kerkhoff said. “Global readiness requires being interculturally competent, open-minded, empathic and well-informed on global issues.”
The initiative is comprised of five key projects within the College of Education.
Faculty in the College of Education and College of Arts and Sciences were invited to monthly “Internationalizing Teaching and Learning Inquiry Circles” led by Kerkhoff. The conversations were aimed at revising courses to include global dimensions.
Meanwhile, preservice teacher interns, their classroom mentor teachers and UMSL education faculty were also invited to attend a “Grand Seminar on Global Readiness” hosted by the College of Education. In addition to a keynote address, the seminar included breakout sessions on topics such as appropriation, decolonization, English language teaching in the global era, the impact of student teaching abroad and sustainability.
A third program endeavored to amend curriculum standards for MEd students at UMSL. A faculty committee revised the program to align with the NAFSA: Association of International Educators’ Global Preparation Lens for InTASC standards.
Study abroad programs are also a vital piece of the initiative. Kerkhoff led trips to Kitale, Kenya, in the summers of 2018 and 2019, where in-service teachers engaged in a professional development summit hosted by the Hope Education Centre. Travel was postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, but Kerkhoff hopes a trip to Kenya will be possible this summer.
Clinical Instructor Lynn Navin has also regularly led a study abroad program to San Pedro, Belize, focused on early childhood education. Students spend two weeks at a summer camp for pre-kindergarten and elementary students, where they get hands-on teaching experience that’s simultaneously intercultural.
“They’re learning two things,” Kerkhoff said. “They’re learning about teaching practices, but they’re also learning what it’s like to be in a different culture than your own. That comparative experience can really strengthen a teacher’s practice.”
The final element is a partnership between UMSL and Shenyang Normal University on an innovative EdD cohort co-designed by SYNU faculty and Professor Laura Westhoff. The cohort was built on a long running student teaching program in Liaoning, China, and extends SYNU’s degree offerings to the doctoral level. In December, 14 Chinese educators graduated from UMSL with EdD degrees.
Kerkhoff credits the variety and the quality of international programming available at UMSL in setting the university apart. She added that data collected on the programs shows that they’re positively impacting participants.
“Aligned with the College of Education vision and teacher education program outcomes, we made intentional efforts to measure and monitor outcomes related to global learning and serving global communities over time,” Bolton said.
Kerkhoff underscored the significance of the university’s work and the award.
“AACTE is a national leader in teacher education, so this is a big deal,” she said. “They gave us a No. 1 ranking. Global teaching is cutting edge and not everyone is doing this. They’re not even thinking about this yet. The fact that we already have these programs in place when other people are just not thinking about them, that’s huge.”
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