Global idea sharing: University welcomes international master teachers

Grant from U.S. Department of State brings teaching fellows from 16 countries for intensive professional development to the College of Education

10/14/2015 - By: Nicole Shearer

Teachers from all over the world have arrived in northern Nevada. In a cultural exchange of ideas and philosophy, these teachers bring worldly experiences into the community and the classroom. 

 For the fifth consecutive year, the University of Nevada, Reno College of Education received the Teaching Excellence and Achievement grant from the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Administered by IREX, this grant offers the University, in partnership with the Northern Nevada International Center, the opportunity to host 19 teaching fellows from 16 different countries. This year marks the 100th fellow brought to northern Nevada.  

"We are taking innovative steps in teacher, school counselor and principal preparation," Kenneth Coll, dean of the University's College of Education, said. "These excellent teachers from throughout the world offer our community a genuine exchange of ideas and sharing of practices that enhance the quality of teaching. We are honored to have been selected again as a site for this international exchange."

During their six-week stay in northern Nevada, the teaching fellows attend workshops in the College of Education and shadow mathematics, English and foreign language teachers in Washoe County School District middle and high schools. 

The fellows are highly experienced master teachers in their own countries who compete in a rigorous application process for selection. Countries represented this year include Armenia, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, India, Jordan, Mali, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

"TEA Fellows learn about the U.S. and our educational system, but they also broaden our understanding of a wider variety of cultures and of teaching and learning practices," Jennifer Mahon, project director and associate professor in the College of Education, said.  

The program allows the international teachers to learn different teaching approaches, use technology in the classroom and better understand the education system in the United States, while at the same time, share their own culture and expertise with a wide array of people from northern Nevada and each other. In addition to their activities at the University and the middle and secondary schools, the fellows complete community service activities, are hosted by local families and take part in area cultural activities.   

 "We all understand that our world has become global and complex," Mahon said. "It is one thing to visit with people from other countries through social media, but it is an entirely different and deeper experience to have them in our communities, on our campus, and in our classrooms. Anyone who comes into contact with this group will tell you how much they've learned about different countries and cultures. Conversely, when you ask the fellows to tell you what they are taking home, their new understanding for Americans living everyday lives is changed through this experience."