University of Calgary

In profile: Researcher from Mexico opens dialogue with bilingual teachers in Calgary

UToday HomeMarch 25, 2013

By Carly Moran

Post-doctoral fellow Paulino Preciado believes faculty and researchers are the best ambassadors for the University of Calgary. Photo by Riley BrandtPost-doctoral fellow Paulino Preciado believes faculty and researchers are the best ambassadors for the University of Calgary. Photo by Riley BrandtWhen Paulino Preciado joined the University of Calgary in 2011 as a post-doctoral fellow, his initial impression was of a growing university strategically located in a strong economic region that would allow for great potential to advance his work.

Originally from Mexico, his international journey here delivered a pleasant surprise: how much he would learn from teachers working in Calgary classrooms.

Preciado works in the Faculty of Education, where he is currently looking at student intellectual engagement and how teachers can trigger deeper mathematical thinking — rather than simple memorization — in their students.

Upon arriving in Calgary, Preciado immediately began leading professional development training with teachers in a Spanish-English bilingual school, working with them to address how learning mathematics in a different language can affect comprehension, a relatively new research area in Alberta.

“My experiences as a teacher educator have shown me how much there is to learn from teachers working in the school system,” says Preciado. “For me, these professional development opportunities are of mutual benefit — I learn as much as I teach.”

Preciado came to Canada in 2006 from Mexico City to pursue his PhD in Mathematical Education at Simon Fraser University. After almost two years in Calgary, Preciado is impressed by the university’s close connections with teachers in a research and professional development capacity, and with the high-quality practicum education students receive before graduating from the University of Calgary.

“Teachers coming out of the Faculty of Education are expected to be designers of learning, which is not limited to the classroom,” says Preciado. “The expectation of teachers here is that they can create and communicate their teaching strategies as professionals in education. In my experience, this is not common in the Canadian post-secondary environment.”

As a recent highlight to his post-doctoral experience, Preciado co-hosted a conference in Mexico this February that focused on investigating and implementing teacher professional development programs that promote mathematical thinking of elementary and secondary students. The conference represented the first meeting between the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Education and the National Pedagogical University in Mexico, and was a first step in establishing relationships between the two institutions. Mexico is one of six “regions of emphasis” identified in the University of Calgary’s new International Strategy.

“We thought we needed to create a place where people could meet and make connections,” says Preciado. “However, we foresee something much bigger than mathematics education coming from this conference.”

The conference also set the stage for the signing of a letter of intention and memorandum of understanding between the two universities. Preciado sees this as a move towards an official agreement that would allow for undergraduate and graduate student exchange, and collaboration between staff.

“Studying and working internationally has nurtured my desire to learn more about cultures all over the world,” says Preciado. “Canada is so multicultural; you live and interact with so many different nationalities of people. I’ve been able to learn about different cultures here that I wouldn’t have been exposed to if I’d stayed in Mexico.”

So, how does Preciado think the University of Calgary can become more international?

“Researchers and faculty are the best ambassadors for the University of Calgary,” says Preciado. “We should all do our part to help promote the university at conferences, seminars and abroad; this should be part of our interest and our work.”

 

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