Conceptual Framework: The Teacher is a Reflective Facilitator
Since its founding, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater has distinguished itself as a leader in teacher education. The College of Education continues this tradition of creating a community of learners. This community, composed of students, university faculty and staff, school educators, and community leaders, is characterized by reflection, engagement, service and responsiveness as befits reflective facilitators of learning.
The College of Education is the unit with the responsibility for coordinating all programs offered for initial and advanced licensure and for the on-going renewal of knowledge, skills, and dispositions of teachers and other school personnel. The advanced programs in School Psychology and School Business Management reside outside of the College of Education but are included in the professional education unit at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
In continuing to use teacher reflection as a focus in its goals and assessments, the College adheres to its philosophical stance for an emphasis on performance assessment. In large part, the aim of all licensure programs is to develop teachers and other school personnel as reflective facilitators who continually evaluate the effects of their choices and actions on others and who actively seek out opportunities to grow professionally. In doing so, the unit will be a major producer of quality classroom teachers, will attract and retain the largest number of minority teacher candidates in the state, and will foster increased global awareness by providing international opportunities for all interested education students.
The essential mission of the teacher education program at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is the preparation of effective teachers and other school personnel in order to meet the needs of diverse student populations in the public schools and in other educational settings throughout the state of Wisconsin. In addition to providing an array of programs leading to initial licensure, the unit provides programs for advanced licensure, for advanced degrees, for licensure renewal, and for personal and professional enrichment.
In fulfilling its mission, the College of Education emphasizes quality and excellence and embraces the Wisconsin Teacher Standards (WTS), the five concept assessments associated with the Wisconsin Teacher Standards - communicative skills, human relations, professional dispositions, content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge - and a knowledge base on the development of reflective judgment in adults. The standards set forth by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) complement the Wisconsin Teacher Standards (WTS) and they have been reflected in the unit's teacher preparation practices in recent years.
The unit has adopted the Wisconsin Teacher Standards (WTS) which incorporate the principles developed by the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC). These standards under gird all curricula leading to licensure in the state of Wisconsin. To receive a license to teach in Wisconsin, an applicant shall complete an approved program and demonstrate proficient performance in the knowledge, skills, and dispositions under each of the following standards:
- The teacher understands the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the disciplines he or she teaches and can create learning experiences that make these aspects of subject matter meaningful for pupils.
- The teacher understands how children with broad ranges of ability learn and provides instruction that supports their intellectual, social, and personal development.
- The teacher understands how pupils differ in their approaches to learning and the barriers that impede learning and can adapt instruction to meet the diverse needs of pupils, including those with disabilities and exceptionalities.
- The teacher understands and uses a variety of instructional strategies, including the use of technology to encourage children's development of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance skills.
- The teacher uses an understanding of individual and group motivation and behavior to create a learning environment that encourages positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self motivation.
- The teacher uses effective verbal and nonverbal communication techniques as well as instructional media and technology to foster active inquiry, collaboration, and supportive interaction in the classroom.
- The teacher organizes and plans systematic instruction based upon knowledge of subject matter, pupils, the community, and curriculum goals.
- The teacher understands and uses formal and informal assessment strategies to evaluate and ensure the continuous intellectual, social, and physical development of the pupil.
- The teacher is a reflective practitioner who continually evaluates the effect of his or her choices and actions on pupils, parents, and professionals in the learning community and others who actively seek out opportunities to grow professionally.
- The teacher fosters relationships with school colleagues, parents, and agencies in the larger community to support pupil learning and well being and who acts with integrity, fairness and in an ethical manner.
The unit holds that effective teachers and other school personnel must be well-educated and well-grounded in the content knowledge of their disciplines. They should be skilled in the practices of pedagogy and possess an array of interpersonal and technical skills. They should be committed to educating all students, have confidence in their power to make a difference in children's lives, be open to innovation and change, and be able to work effectively with diversity in colleagues, students, parents, and contexts. In addition to knowing about children, subject matter, educational theory, and strategies for teaching, teachers and other school personnel should be dedicated to the development of youth, and possess an openness to new ideas and the challenge of conflicting ideologies.
The conceptual framework is grounded in a knowledge base which cites research and educational philosophy to support practice. While there is recognition that unit faculty values vary and that specific programs weigh some values more heavily than others, there is nevertheless universal agreement that candidates should think, solve problems, communicate, create positive learning environments, respect all learners, engage in life-long learning, conduct action research, and develop a style of leadership. In short, each candidate must facilitate and reflect.