Teacher candidates learn negotiation skills through international partnership

October 21, 2022
Student teacher at McKay School

Fitchburg State University students pursuing careers in education will be able to enhance their creative negotiation skills through a new international partnership launching this fall.

Dean of Education Nancy Murray learned about the Game Changers in Education program and immediately saw the value for teacher-candidates in learning how to interact with people of different cultural backgrounds - including colleagues, parents, and students.

“All of these skills will benefit our teacher candidates as they develop the skills to be leaders in the field of education,” Murray said.

The Game Changers in Education program, conducted by the non-profit PATHWAYS Institute for Negotiation Education, brings together education majors and pre-service teachers from the U.S. and diverse communities in Israel for interactive joint learning and facilitated online exchange focused on developing and applying creative negotiation skills in their schools and communities. 

Starting this month as a pilot program, four junior-year Fitchburg State teacher candidates will take part in a one-credit series of virtual seminars in which they will interact with other future educators from the U.S. and Israel. 

“This provides an outstanding opportunity for our students to develop and master creative problem solving and negotiation skills that they otherwise would not have,” said Assistant Professor Karen DeAngelis of the university’s Education Department. “The opportunity to work with a diverse group of students in the US and abroad developing critical negotiation skills will both improve their teaching practices and afford them an opportunity to collaborate with students from diverse backgrounds.”

The rigors and prerequisites of the Education program can make study abroad a challenging fit for some students, DeAngelis said. This program will give them that experience of international exchange without having to leave campus. 

The Game Changers in Education program is supported by the Stevens Initiative, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, with funding provided by the U.S. government and administered by the Aspen Institute. 

Avi Goldstein, the founder and international executive director of PATHWAYS, said the program curriculum fosters skills that will make today’s students future leaders and problem-solvers. 

In paired exercises, group dialogues, and team-based project work, participants develop intercultural understanding and global awareness while acquiring practical, research-based pedagogical and professional tools, Goldstein explained. Through the experiential curriculum, participants build their skills and self-confidence while exploring how the vital mindsets and skills of cooperative, interest-based negotiation can be incorporated into their roles as change-makers in education.

Murray, the dean of education, and Goldstein first connected in 2021 and discussions about Fitchburg State partnering with PATHWAYS began soon thereafter. “This opportunity was so unique in how it enables our undergraduate teacher-candidates   to interact with other teacher candidates from other cultural backgrounds,” she said. 

“I’m really excited and I’m grateful to Nancy for connecting the dots,” Goldstein added.

The pilot program on Fitchburg State’s campus launches with its first cohort in October.

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