For Dale Allender, helping teachers turn the tide on educational opportunities for children of color boils down to these three words:
Don’t give up.
“Stay engaged. Don’t give up on the kids, don’t give up on yourselves and don’t give up on understanding just how important the work really is.”
Allender, who has been an NUA educational mentor since 2010, is director of the National Council on Teachers of English – West (NCTEWest), which is housed at the University of California, Berkeley. NCTEWest is a regional division of NCTE, a professional association that focuses on improving the teaching and learning of English and the language arts. Allender established NCTEWest in 2003 to organize literacy research and policy events, pilot online-teacher education course tools and promote innovative literacy instruction. In addition, he teaches Urban Education in the college’s Graduate School of Education.
Allender also teaches at San Francisco State University, where he trains future high school educators to teach literacy across content areas.
He earned his doctorate in education from the University of Queensland in Australia; he has a master’s degree in developmental reading from the University of Iowa.
One of his passions as a teacher and mentor is helping teachers develop a critical understanding of the challenges and the promise of teaching in urban settings, which to him means helping them incorporate good practices, research and innovations in the classroom.
“What I enjoy about working with NUA is that it brings the scientific [brain-based research], educational and cultural together to improve the way teachers are teaching and students are learning,” Allender says.
Most recently, Allender has been mentoring teachers at two schools in Robbinsdale, Minn., and has consulted with others from NUA at schools in New York and Connecticut.
At whatever school he finds himself, he immerses himself in the community culture and learns what is motivating teachers and students alike. And he tries to spend as much time with them as possible.
“To change a school culture, our efforts have to be widespread and ongoing and reflective,” he says. “You have to be able to have lots of opportunity to continue to work together and reflect on what we’re doing together.”
Of all his professional pursuits, Allender says NUA is the most “soul-fulfilling work” he does.
“You can see within a very short time the difference it makes,” he says. “The work I do for the teachers as a mentor makes me a better educator, scholar and human being.”
Dale Allender, Ph.D.