The number of students who come to today’s college campuses with experience of the world and enthusiasm to learn more is increasing. An American Council on Education report (2008) revealed that 61% of incoming students had traveled in another country with their families, and 51% have close friends or family who live in another country. These students need to be encouraged to enter teaching.
Admissions officers and other advisors play a key role in helping students with these interests and experiences to consider a teaching career. Recruiting such students into teaching could bring a greater variety of international perspectives into classrooms and P-12 schools. Sharing information about teaching careers with students taking internationally themed courses in the Arts and Sciences could entice those with this predisposition to take the classes required for teacher certification.
Providing scholarship to students based on international interests sends a clear message that students with these interests and experiences are valued. Indiana University (IU) rewards academically talented students with international interests. Exceptional students are recruited directly to the School of Education, and provided access to a network of alumni. Those with international interests are also given a $2,000 scholarship to the Cultulral Immersions Projects where they can complete their student teaching abroad or in a cultural setting significantly different from their own. This sends a message that the teacher education program values students interested in broadening their cultural horizons.
IU also actively seeks out students from a wide range of backgrounds - which illustrates an interesting source of global perspectives. The United States population grows ever more diverse, and incoming college students will come from variety of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds - providing colleges of education another opportunity to diversify and add additional perspectives to research and practice. Actively seeking and recuiting these students into teacher preparation programs will be necessary to tap this rich resource.
Some graduate programs reward students for previous international experience, undergraduate study abroad, service in the Peace Corps, or other internationally oriented careers. All students in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) program at the University of San Diego are required to have international experiences in order to graduate, and credit is granted for previous study abroad experience. Peace Corps offers the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs). Fellows receive tuition assistance at nearly 60 universities nationwide and complete internships and field experiences in underserved communities in the United States.
Twenty five institutions offer Coverdall Fellowships that focus on teaching and education. Teachers College at Columbia University is one of several Peace Corps Fellows sites around the country. Annually, a cohort of approximately 25 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers receives tuition reduction and scholarships. Fellows are hired as full-time teachers of record in high-need schools in New York City while completing alternative teacher certification program and Master’s degrees. The program is designed to staff teachers in subjects that are current experiencing teacher shortages.
American Council on Education (ACE) (2008). College-Bound Students’ Interests in Study Abroad and Other International Learning Activities. Washington, DC.