An International View at NLU
By Robert Schroeder
The age of preparing teachers to serve in a local classroom is over.
That is the argument National Louis University’s James O’Meara, Ph.D., advances as he begins his tenure as president of the International Council on Education for Teachers (ICET). His counterpoint? Preparing globally competent teachers is the new necessity.
“We’re talking about a teacher who has the capacity to develop a sense of responsibility in their learners, a connectedness to global issues beyond the classroom or community, a responsibility to engage in solving some of the challenges globally,” said O’Meara, professor in the National College of Education.
O’Meara recently attended ICET’s 56th annual global assembly in Ghana, a conference focused on professional teaching, accreditation, standards and internationalizing teacher education. The assembly was the final one under the leadership of outgoing president Darrell Bloom, Ph.D., professor emeritus in the National College of Education.
Creating globally competent teachers requires a set of international standards that are both locally and culturally sensitive, and the keys to meeting those standards often require locally and culturally unique solutions. O’Meara cited cross-collaboration between Cambridge University in England and universities in Ghana conducted via text messaging, rather than laptops, because mobile phones are more accessible in Ghana. In the United States, the University of South Dakota is using active recruitment strategies to increase the presence of Native American students on campus, targeting reservations and other areas of high Native American populations.
“The challenge we have now is what sort of teacher education would prepare a teacher to develop global competencies in their learners,” O’Meara said. “What does it mean to be prepared for a 21st century classroom in Africa, and in other places around the world?”
As ICET President, O’Meara says he plans to strengthen ICET’s secretariat, currently housed at National Louis University’s Wheeling campus, creating partner opportunities for NLU students and alumni. He also hopes to expand ICET’s reach, rebranding through global fundraising and connecting to other teacher education organizations worldwide.
“Before we understand how to internationalize, we need to learn how to communicate better among diverse people from diverse perspectives,” O’Meara said. “We need to create a definition that is meaningful for both people here at NLU but also reflects consideration to people around the world.”
O’Meara aims to bring a world assembly in Chicago, hosted by NLU, creating opportunities for NLU faculty, students and alumni to participate in collective grant proposals. Another goal includes connecting National Louis with local professional associations including the American Association of Teacher Education.
“NLU has an opportunity and the world has an opportunity to engage in a harmonized way with international teacher education,” O’Meara said. “What I would love to have occur is for people to contact the University, emerging leaders in teacher education, to start communicating on ways we can start to collaborate and increase our activities.”