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Experiences Working With Diverse Candidates

UMM has the highest percentage of students of color in the University of Minnesota system (17.4%). The UMM Teacher Education Program, with 20% students of color, currently exceeds the UMM average. Our candidates are able to interact with peers from diverse groups right in our own classrooms. Our courses are highly participatory with frequent discussions, use of cooperative groups, and peer teaching. Multiple opportunities for meaningful interactions are present.

This level of diversity is not always the case as we often have only 10% students of color. We have been very intentional about developing other opportunities for interaction. Each year our candidates attend the state Education Minnesota Conference in Minneapolis. At the conference, candidates will be with student teachers and teachers from across the state. We see this as a wonderful opportunity, but recognize that we cannot orchestrate interaction or guarantee diverse interactions at this event.

We are very pleased with two initiatives that have been designed explicitly for the purpose of allowing our candidates to have meaningful interaction with candidates with diverse experiences and perspectives. The Rural-Urban project begins its second year of activities this fall. This program is designed to provide opportunities for meaningful interaction between and among candidates from UMM and Chicago State University (CSU) as they complete field experiences in both urban and rural schools. In other words, UMM candidates experienced urban classrooms, and CSU candidates experienced rural classrooms. There was a shared, collaborative activity in which preservice teachers from both institutions met at Chicago State to analyze and discuss a teaching case. Seven candidates from CSU and their professor then traveled to Minnesota where they met again with UMM candidates before spending a week in small, rural schools. The next shared activity is scheduled for October 2008 at Chicago State. The second initiative is in the early stages of its design. This initiative will provide a diverse, urban, service-learning field experience for secondary education students who will complete a field experience in New Orleans. The first stage of this initiative will include students and cooperating teachers from diverse groups. Planned for the second stage is the expansion of the project to include candidates of color from other universities. We hope that we will be able to include these candidates in a student teaching exchange.

Recruitment and Retention

The UMM TEP is committed to recruiting for UMM and the faculty members are contacted regularly to meet with prospective students. We are active participants in recruiting events that include student visit days, special visits by students of color, and other events as scheduled. In addition to this general commitment, the faculty members are also actively involved in efforts to recruit a diverse group of candidates for our programs. We have served as mentors to students of color, assisted with advising, participated in the Gateway Program, and have taught First Year Seminar in an effort to work with all first-year students.

As described in a previous section, 20% of our candidates are students of color. We are pleased to note that among our candidates are Native American students who have come to UMM because of its location, its programs, and their right to its historic American Indian tuition waiver. Similar to the data for the institution, the highest percentage for a minority group is for our Native American students. The percentages of Asian and Hispanic candidates in our programs also correlate to those of the institution. Though we have had a small number of African American candidates in the past, we are disappointed that we have not been more successful at recruiting and supporting UMM African American students into the current programs. Approximately 20% of our candidates are male. Both programs enroll more women than men, with substantially more in the elementary program.





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