Preparing preservice teachers to work with diverse learners

Highlights from an exploratory service-learning trip to central Mexico



service-learning, Ed Tech, vision screenings, hearing screenings


It is important to build preservice teachers’ self-efficacy in working with diverse learners. During summer of 2021, faculty from a mid-sized public university in the southwest took a small group of preservice teachers into central Mexico to provide opportunities in working with diverse learners and/or emergent English learners (ELs). Although this foray into central Mexico was an exploratory trip to plan for future International Field-Experiences for preservice teachers, the trip involved a lot of service and a lot of learning. Jacoby (2015) defines service-learning as “a form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs” (p.1). While this project to central Mexico was not tied to any coursework, preservice teachers and university faculty engaged in service-learning that was mutually beneficial to all stakeholders. At the same time, preservice teachers gained self-efficacy in their ability to support the needs of ELs. Students and faculty from the university worked with approximately 22 children in a remote village in central Mexico, with support from translators. Through this experience, a unique bonding experience took place. For five consecutive days, faculty and preservice teachers worked with 22 school children ranging in age from four to fourteen. Only a few translators assisted with communication, but they were able to support the faculty and preservice teachers during literacy and educational technology instruction. The second author received support for translations as she conducted vision and hearing screenings for students, parents, and community members. The experience was life-changing and may be apropos for other educators, medical practitioners, and/or educational researchers looking to promote capacity and self-efficacy in preservice teachers, nursing students, medical students, or other stakeholders.



Author, 2018.

Author, 2020.

Carle, E. (1994). A very hungry caterpillar. New York, NY: Penguin Random House.

Cummins, J. (1979). Cognitive/academic language proficiency, linguistic interdependence, the

optimum age question and some other matters. Working Papers on Bilingualism, 19, 121-129.

DiMaggio, P. (1982). Cultural capital and school success: The impact of status culture

participation on the grades of U.S. high school students. American Sociological Association, 47(2), 189-201.

Dumais, S. A. (2002). Cultural capital, gender, and school success: The role of habitus.

American Sociological Association, 75(1), 44-68.

Gay, G. (2000). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice. New York:

Teachers College Press.

Hollie, S. (2015). Strategies for culturally and linguistically responsive teaching and

learning. Huntington Beach, CA: Shell Education.

Ladson-Billings, G. (1994). The Dreamkeepers: Successful teachers of African American

children. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Jacoby, B. (2015). Service-learning essentials: Questions, answers, and lessons learned. San

Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Nagy, W. E., García, G. E., Durgunoğlu, A. Y., & Hancin-Bhatt, B. (1993). Spanish-English

bilingual students’ use of cognates in English reading. Journal of Reading Behavior, 25(3), 241-259.

National Association of School Nurses. (2021). Vision and Eye Health. Retrieved from:

Texas Department of State Health Services. Vision and Hearing Screening. (2021).

Toronyi, A. (2020). Preservice teachers working with English language learners: A meta

synthesis of service- learning as an effective pedagogical tool. Journal of Service-Learning in Higher Education, 11(Summer).

Pfister, M. (1992). The rainbow fish. Zürich, Switzerland: North-South Books.

Ritland, V., & Eighmy, M. (2013). Multiage instruction: An outdated strategy, or a timeless best

practice. The European Journal of Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2(2).

Wang, C., Bovaird, S., Ford-Jones, E., Bender, R., Parsonage, C., Yau, M., & Ferguson, B.

(2011). Vision and hearing screening in school settings: Reducing barriers to children’s achievement. Paediatr Child Health, 16(5), 271–272.