Nov. 14, 2018
In my work, I have visited schools all over the world. Every time I visit a classroom, I am fascinated as I sit in the back of the room watching the teacher work with students. I think how fortunate I am to be able to observe this culturally universal phenomenon — the daily routine of young people all over the world as they wake up, put on their school clothes and head out the door to meet their friends and teachers for a day of learning.
Whether it is the high school where I taught as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger, West Africa, or the schools I have visited in Tanzania, Ireland or China, I always think to myself: Kids and teachers are doing this all over the world right now.
Education is foundational to societies all over the world because it is such important work. It is the day-to-day efforts of teachers interacting with, instructing, modeling, coaching and caring for students where the fabric of our communities is knit. In addition to academic subjects, teachers also show us how success and achievement depend on our ability to work together and listen to ideas and opinions that we might not have considered before.
Good teachers help us learn to listen, even when someone’s perspective differs from ours. They tell us stories and connect us with people whose lives and experiences are different from our own. Through their dedicated, often unappreciated, work, teachers can make a difference in the lives of young people and, by extension, in our communities and our world.
We need highly qualified teachers more than ever. The problems that our society faces today are both complex and urgent. Addressing issues such as climate change, racism, mass shootings, wealth inequality, political polarization and immigration will require an educated society whose teachers prepared them to think critically and work collaboratively across difference.
Michigan State University is a leader in preparing teachers to do just this. Throughout their B.A. and full year teaching internship in their fifth year, MSU teacher candidates engage in developing deep understanding of content, kids and learning through university coursework and sustained, meaningful engagement in classrooms.
MSU’s Urban Educators Cohort Program and Global Educators Cohort Program provide teacher candidates with the opportunity to develop deep expertise in areas of teaching that impact and extend beyond the teaching of academic subjects. UECP and GECP students engage in specialized learning and teaching opportunities that prepare them to be successful and thrive in their work with culturally and linguistically diverse youth.
MSU’s Teacher Preparation Program embodies MSU’s land grant tradition and world grant values with its commitment to leveraging research and scholarship to serve the needs of and make an impact in our communities. Whether it is running an afterschool and summer program where youth make inventions to address injustice in their communities, working with future science teachers to learn how to engage in action around the environment or helping Flint teachers respond to the water crisis, MSU’s education faculty are committed to expanding knowledge and changing lives in our communities.
For MSU teacher candidates, "Spartans Will" is not just a catchy phrase. Spartan educators recognize that the challenges of today’s society depend critically on their work with individual students in their classrooms. MSU’s Teacher Preparation Program helps them take on this important work with the knowledge, skills and dispositions to make a difference.