In large, diverse metropolitan areas such as Seattle, students in K-12 systems can speak well over 100 primary languages.
As the cultural and linguistic diversity of the nation's schools steadily increases, Grace Blum (PhD '16) is focused on preparing future teachers to work effectively in classrooms where students may have several different primary languages.
"Teachers need to be prepared for the reality of the classroom," said Blum, a former elementary teacher who recently graduated with her PhD in curriculum and instruction. "What is most important is the child—to make sure their needs are being met. We’re preparing [teachers] for these diverse classrooms and students, and they need to know how to best meet the needs of their students."
During her doctoral research at the UW, Blum studied the College of Education's three elementary teacher preparation pathways—the master's in teaching program, the Seattle Teacher Residency, and the UW Accelerated Certification for Teachers program (an alternative certification program)—to examine how the different programs each prepared teachers to work with culturally and linguistically diverse students. Blum followed teacher candidates during their studies at the UW and into their first year of teaching.
Blum also worked directly with teacher candidates at the UW and created a new class to better prepare future teachers for working in diverse classrooms.
“One of the achievements that I am proud of is the development of this new class in the special education department [that] bridges issues around language acquisition and issues around ability,” Blum said.
Blum co-authored the chapter “Inclusive Education: To What End?” in the book Including Learners with Low-Incidence Disabilities while at UW and is co-author of “Moving Toward a More Socially Just Classroom Through Teacher Preparation for Inclusion,” a recent paper on social justice in teacher education.
In the fall, Blum will join the faculty at Central Washington University-Des Moines as an assistant professor in the TEACH department.
“I would like to keep my hand in the arena of research and make sure I’m fully in the work of teaching, Blum said. "I want to make sure that teachers are prepared for the realities of the classroom and I want to make sure whether it's in my role as a researcher or as an educator that we are the doing the best to prepare our teachers to work with diverse students.”
Dustin Wunderlich, Director for Marketing and Communications