Western New Mexico University associate professor Dr. Alexandra Neves and three Western New Mexico University students presented “Teachers’ Transformation and Intercultural Competence: Who Benefits?” at the National Association of Bilingual Education conference in Albuquerque this past weekend.
The student presenters included Elizabeth Ann Long, Alfredo Reyes and Michele Scott, who are all online students.
“The presentation originated from a class called Current Issues in Language Minority Education that these students took last summer. In that class, we covered the many issues in educating linguistically minority children in public schools and invited teachers to reflect on their roles as educators to create spaces where all children succeed. A big part of that is giving teachers the opportunity to explicitly challenge beliefs and attitudes that perpetuate unfair educational practices. This is key for future and current educators. We all met in Albuquerque for the conference thanks to a professional development grant, which covered the students’ registration fees,” Dr. Neves said.
Elizabeth Ann Long will graduate with a Master of Arts in Teaching with a focus on reading instruction this spring. A teacher in Gallup, she is finishing up her seventh year of teaching and was labeled an “exemplary” teacher this year.
Her portion of the group presentation focused on sociocultural awareness and how that can evolve into culturally responsive teaching. “I talked about my personal journey of moving from Ohio to the reservation when I was 16, and how I had to shift my cultural lens in order to reach my students,” Long said. “I talked about how the phrase ‘culturally relevant’ is thrown around in education, but developing this awareness does not happen overnight or after one professional development meeting. Finally, I discussed how we can reach our students, uplift them, and show them we value who they are.”
Michele Scott is getting a Master of Interdisciplinary Studies and works as a teacher and the director of a New Mexico pre-kindergarten school. “Teacher transformation and intercultural competence are important, because educators are the ones who can connect with students’ lives and open the doors to balance the power among us,” she said.