The ISU Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline program co-hosted the Urban Teacher Education Consortium 2019 meeting in March alongside the University of Chicago Urban Teacher Education Program and National Louis University.
UTEC is a network of urban education programs across the country who have been coming together each March for over ten years. Rather than a typical conference where programs and scholars share findings, participants think of UTEC as an un-conference where like-minded faculty and staff come together to discuss challenges and share best practices in urban teacher education collaboratively. Over 60 participants joined for the 2019 meeting in Chicago.
This year’s meeting was guided by two essential questions:
- How can we develop strong, collaborative partnerships between teacher education programs and the communities they serve?
- How do we support and sustain the teachers of color in our programs?
On the first day, NCUE Executive Director, Maria Luisa Zamudio, led the participants in the traditional UTEC opening activity, Reflection on a Word, and explored what Community means. CTEP’s Community Liaisons also played a key role in the initial day of UTEC, sharing their perspective and role as partners with ISU NCUE programming. Jose Guerrero, CTEP Program Coordinator moderated a panel with Carlos Millan from The Resurrection Project; Ana Mosqueda from Latinos Progresando, and Melanie Christion from Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation. The CTEP community partners shared the successes and struggles when partnering with institutions of higher education. As Carlos Millan remarked, “UTEC gave us the platform to illustrate one of our foundations in partnership with Illinois State University which is intentional reciprocity and solidarity.”
The second day featured site visits to school and community-based organizations to allow UTEC participants to see the host programs in action, including the NCUE teacher preparation model of integrated partnership between the university, schools, and community partners. One participant, who explored the East Garfield Park partnership with ISU CTEP, Beidler elementary, and Breakthrough, noted in her evaluation, “The school visit and tour of the community center were both enlightening and showed how a meaningful collaboration between a university-based program, school and community organization can be a powerful source in supporting new teachers and the students/families they serve.”
Three ISU CTEP graduates/students participated in a panel to share their journey as a Teacher of Color: Nancy Ballesteros (‘11, ISU Grow Your Own program, teacher at Madero Middle School), Asia-Ana Williams (‘18 ISU NCUE CTEP, teacher at Richards Career Academy High School), and Guadalupe Hernandez-Lopez (‘19 ISU NCUE CTEP, student teacher at Telpochcalli Elementary School). The panelists reflected honestly on their experiences, both in their teacher preparation program as well as in their current position teaching in Chicago Public Schools. The panel provided an intense session as the teachers explored their challenges openly with UTEC participants.
Asia-Ana Williams expressed, “Participating in the UTEC Educator Panel was an experience I will forever cherish for both encouraging me and challenging me to speak my truth in an effort to better support future educators of color who enter teacher preparation programs. I was continuously affirmed by the people in the room, but especially the black and brown folk in attendance, who could relate to my experience. The largest take away from the panel for me was: there is still critical work to be done, and we have to support those who are doing such work in and outside of the classroom.”
The final day of UTEC centered around participants engaging in deep reflection in small and large groups on the experiences and activities throughout the conference as well as artifact sharing to bring concrete ideas back to their programs. Ana Mosqueda, Latinos Progresando, reflected, “UTEC allowed a safe space for educators and those working in the community to regain strength to continue the fight for social justice.”
2020 will take UTEC to UCLA where we hope to continue to learn and grow with our colleagues across the nation.