College of Education & Professional Studies
Conceptual Framework: The Teacher is a Reflective Facilitator
Commitment to Teacher Preparation
We affirm the essential role of education in assisting citizens to attain their inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as reflected in the principles of our nation's founding documents. We affirm the democratic processes by which individuals and society are empowered. We share an abiding commitment to the ongoing development of democratic purposes, policies, and intents as they serve to benefit all.
We affirm the role of educators as active contributors to the development of an informed citizenry that is committed to these principles. As educators we dedicate ourselves to developing and exemplifying a sense of civic responsibility and social justice, of interpersonal respect, a regard for scholarship, and the use of evidence in determining matters of public policy.
We affirm the responsibility of educators to speak and act on behalf of children and youth and the responsibility of educators in furthering public understanding of the educational needs of children and youth.
To these ends, the College of Education & Professional Studies commits itself to the preparation of teachers who will further these beliefs and empower their students to carry them out. To do this, prospective teachers must possess a combination of knowledge, understanding, skills, and dispositions that will allow them to help create an informed populace committed to participation in our democracy.
The College of Education & Professional Studies commitment is further elaborated in the following premises.
Preface: We believe that effective teachers must be well-educated. They should be skilled in the practices of teaching 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 able to work effectively with diversity in colleagues, students, and contexts. In addition to knowing about children, subject matter, educational theory, and strategies for teaching, teachers should be dedicated to the development of youth, espouse a dynamic conception of literacy, and possess a mind and disposition open to new ideas and the challenge of ideologies.
Prospective teachers need a sound knowledge base from which to construct their professional lives. This knowledge base includes a strong foundation in the disciplines they will teach. It includes an understanding of how humans learn, develop, and construct meaning. The knowledge base includes knowing how to use an array of methods and technologies to carry out instruction effectively and to evaluate student learning and instructional effectiveness.
The knowledge base also includes the historical and philosophical bases of education and an understanding of the complex social and cultural contexts of schools. Prospective teachers must be able to utilize theory in addressing educational problems and re-evaluating accepted practice, policy, and procedures.
To become a teacher is to affect forever the lives of the young. It is a paramount that those entrusted with this responsibility be imbued with caring and commitment to youth, individually and collectively, that will sustain a demanding, and often frustrating, career. In the face of circumstances beyond school, the teacher should not relinquish belief in either his or her ability to make a difference or in the potential of each student to learn and to succeed.
Teaching is a commitment to the future and requires consideration of the quality of literacy that will sustain society. Literacy is normally defined for schools as a repertoire of prescribed knowledge and skills. A more dynamic conception of literacy is implicit in the demand for adults who can reason effectively, who continue to learn, and who will address problems utilizing the democratic process. Thus, in addition to a prescribed repertoire of knowledge and skills, teachers need the ability to evaluate traditional ways of doing, to select from them, or to conceive new ways. They should be able to produce an unlimited number of plans and then to pursue those plans that will support quest and adaptation to changing conditions. This concept of literacy depends on the capacity to question and to evaluate effectively, to think critically and creatively, and to confront problems with imagination and with ardor.
Decision making is both individual and collective; we are bound as a society to solve problems and make decisions collectively. Teachers, however, are continually required to make individual decisions; and as the complexity of the context increases, reliance on the teacher's judgment becomes greater. Reflection and critical analysis should be benchmarks for decision making, and the bases for decisions should rest on egalitarian and emancipatory orientations to schooling and on a professional code of ethics.
In every dimension of professional preparation, there are both discrete, factual knowledge and dynamic, fluid intellectual abilities that must be addressed. However, there are no fixed plans, algorithmic solutions, or prescribed practices for the day-to-day work of teachers. Rather teachers need the confidence and capacity to develop new ideas and new agendas, being sensitive to changing conditions, responding to diversity in student aptitude and interest, and being flexible in carrying out their responsibilities.
A teacher is a transcendent being, a catalyst for change, whose task is to create the possibility that tomorrow will be peopled by principled individuals who will embrace the dialectic of life and in the changing circumstances that assuredly will occur will always subscribe to the principles of equality, justice and freedom for all. Teachers should be imbued with confidence in their role as change agents and in their ability to help shape society and to determine the future.
Self-Reflection and Self-Assessment
Critical self-reflection and self-assessment are essential to becoming a teacher. Self-reflection, self-assessment, and reflection about practice should be the measure of performance in the teacher education program. Of critical importance for self-reflection and self-assessment is an understanding of the professional code of ethics and a commitment to the democratic process by which individuals are empowered.
Educators should be proactive in advocating for students and families and for those conditions which are most likely to ensure equality and justice for all students. Moreover, teachers should be committed to knowing the changing issues that affect students and schooling and be confident in providing an articulate and informed voice on behalf of students and schooling.
Collaborative relations with parents, families, school boards, administrators, and colleagues presage success in working with young people. Families and the community should be full partners in the educational process of the young.