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Conceptual Framework

All of the UMM teacher education programs are based on a single conceptual framework. The framework places the complex elements of a strong teacher education program within the context of a liberal arts institution—the primary feature of the UMM teacher education program. We believe that teachers must be broadly educated with substantial general knowledge. Next, teachers must possess a depth of knowledge in specialty areas, those fields in which they will be licensed to teach. Teachers must also understand, embrace, and act on the professional knowledge base that leads to classroom effectiveness. At UMM, the professional program has four components woven throughout course work and clinical experience. They are: theory and practice, leadership, diversity, and technology. To best educate our candidates in these important themes, we follow processes that are developmental, constructive, reflective, integrative, collaborative, and standards-based. Through participation in and successful completion of the program, candidates gain or enhance the necessary knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed for beginning professionals in the teaching field. All efforts in the program are aimed at the ultimate goal of P-12 student learning. We seek to prepare our students to teach all students in all places.

Liberal Arts and General Studies: Breadth of Knowledge

The broad liberal arts education—the heart of UMM—is an important first step to teacher preparation in our program. Consistent with the increased subject matter demands, our candidates are expected to develop a knowledge and skills base through the general education program. Included in the general studies are concepts and understandings that allow all candidates to connect knowledge, interpret events, and integrate subject matter across disciplines. The program of general studies builds subject matter knowledge and understanding in the multiple content areas required for excellence.

Content Area Studies: Depth of Knowledge

All teacher education candidates are required to earn a major. Elementary and secondary education candidates must learn the philosophy, concepts, understandings, and processes of inquiry in their field of licensure. In addition to the university’s requirements for specific majors, candidates also need to take sets of courses specifically geared to address the substantial subject matter requirements of the state licensure law. For example, under current licensure regulations, elementary education candidates are required to earn a second license in a specialty area. To meet the increased subject matter demands, elementary education candidates take additional courses in a specific area of the general education program. They are encouraged to obtain a minor or even a second major.

Professional Program Components and Characteristics: Building Professional Expertise

At UMM, the professional teacher education program—with student learning for all students and all places as its primary goal—begins with an introductory prerequisite course. It continues with theory and methods courses for admitted candidates, and ends with a professional development course. Field experiences are scheduled concurrently with all University course work. The program is characterized by four key components and six characteristics that lead to the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that beginning teachers need. The Conceptual Framework Detailed Description describes the UMM TEP’s roots in theory, research, and wisdom from experience.

Four components are key to the UMM Professional program:

Theory and Practice
The UMM TEP is designed to model, explain, promote, and assesstheory and practice throughout the program. Course syllabi reveal assignments and instructional topics that reflect the work and ideas of major theorists and the best of current standards of practice. We actively support the work of professional organizations and focus on national subject matter standards and recommendations in our professional course of study. Also present are class activities, assignments, and assessments that allow candidates to put the ideas into practice in P-12 and University classrooms. For every course there are multiple goals, a variety of activities, and assessments carefully designed to judge candidate knowledge and performance in authentic ways. By working with students, peers, cooperating teachers, and university faculty members to explore the relationship between theory and practice, candidates are able to consider both privately and publicly held theories helping them to prepare for institutions in which they will likely work as well as those they hope to create (Kahn and Westheimer, 2000).
Leadership
The UMM TEP reflects UMM’s general mission in our focus on the leadership abilities and opportunities for our candidates. Leadership opportunities in current classes include issue-oriented readings, research, topic presentations, “expert” groups, peer teaching, and senior presentations. Candidate involvement in clubs, organizations, committees, and work across campus is also valued. Over 80% of candidates are active in campus organizations, and more than 70% of those participants report that they have assumed leadership roles. Much of the involvement directly relates to their future roles as educators. For example, candidates have worked in Tutoring, Reading, Enabling Children (TREC) and Big Friend Little Friend. Candidates are actively involved in the Education Minnesota Student Program, an organization linked to Education Minnesota, the state’s teacher association. Candidates also prepare for future leadership by participating in UMM research programs like Morris Academic Partnerships, Morris Student Administrative Fellowships, and the Undergraduate Research Symposium.
Diversity
The teacher education faculty at UMM is committed to offering a program infused with multicultural education despite the geographically isolated and largely monocultural setting of the campus. Understanding diversity and the needs of diverse students are key program objectives. Candidates study multiple elements of diversity in all courses. All candidates must complete at least one field experience in a diverse or cross-cultural setting, and many exceed the minimum requirement.
Technology
In the UMM teacher education program, we seek to include essential technology knowledge along with meaningful integration of technology instruction throughout the course of study. Access to computers and other technology, funded both by UMM and UMM TEP initiatives, has allowed candidates to do more work with technology and to learn to use increasingly sophisticated equipment and programs. In course work and practicum experiences, candidates employ Internet activities, document cameras, video recorders, scanners, multimedia programming, SmartBoards, and other equipment and programs. Assignments, including analysis and appropriate use of programs and technology available for P-12 student learning, are integrated into courses and into all field experiences. Candidates meet UMM TEP technology competencies. The competencies—drawn from ISTE standards—include basic operations and concepts, personal and professional use of technology, and integration of technology into instruction. To stay current, we will be updating our technology standards in 2009.

Six program characteristics increase candidate growth and understanding:

Developmental
The UMM TEP is designed to address candidate development in several ways. First, readings and assignments are appropriately designed to meet the candidates where they are. Introductory materials help candidates begin to see classrooms from new and different perspectives. Early assignments focus on lesson fundamentals. As candidates progress through the program, themes are revisited at higher levels. Lessons are arranged into units. Finally, in the professional development course, candidates present their philosophies of education with the expectation that they are ready for initial licensure. We take individual differences into account as we plan a variety of instructional experiences and make accommodations for students with documented disabilities. Field experiences follow the same pattern. In the introductory experience, candidates are “tutor-aides” and are expected to work with individuals or small groups of students. In subsequent placements, the expectations become more like those of a teacher, and when student teaching, candidates are expected to assume the full range of professional duties.
Reflective
Teacher education candidates at UMM participate in reflective activities from the first day in Education 2101, the prerequisite course, when they write a pre-assessment analyzing their perspectives on teaching to the last days of the program in ElEd/SeEd 4901 when they create and present their personal philosophical stances. In the weeks and months in between, they keep journals, analyze performance, participate in discussions, and focus on reflection in multiple ways.
Integrative
An integrative approach places learning in meaningful contexts and makes use of concrete examples. At UMM, we are committed to weaving key themes and concepts throughout the courses of study. Teaching and learning, best practices, diversity, technology, and leadership activities are included in all courses. Skills and strategies are introduced, practiced, and assessed in different settings and at different times.
Constructive
We teach teaching, and thus we must address two important ways to consider constructivism. First, we teach constructivism as content. Our candidates need to understand how learners construct knowledge and how to create a learning environment that promotes active learning. Second, we need to use constructivist methods in our program to create an environment that stimulates meaningful learning and engages candidates in important ideas and issues. In the UMM TEP, we work to include both perspectives on constructivism. We include constructivism as a topic of study throughout the program, and we attempt to organize instruction in ways that promote active, meaningful learning.
Collaborative
The UMM TEP is committed to collaboration among the many constituencies needed to offer a program of quality. The size and mission of UMM and the UMM TEP support collaboration. Students are expected to collaborate in course projects and some take leadership roles on committees. The faculty members work together in team planning and teaching activities as well as conduct collaborative research with each other, with current students, and with former students. Work with partner districts allows an important exchange of information and has resulted in several successful grant applications. We seek to continue to build upon purposeful and meaningful relationships in order to create positive and constructive change in the teacher education program and in the classrooms our candidates will lead.
Standards-Based
The Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice (SEP) provide the basis for the UMM TEP. They are taught, practiced, and assessed in multiple ways and at multiple points throughout the course of study. Cooperating teachers and university supervisors address candidate performance in final evaluations of student teaching. In their program portfolios, candidates must also describe, analyze, and assess their attainment of the standards. The current movement toward standards-based instruction—for teachers and for students—is aimed at systemic rather than incremental change. We recognize and support the goal of excellence for all. We also recognize the importance of understanding our role not only to monitor our candidates’ achievement in relationship to standards, but to build personal teacher-learner relationships.

Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions: Standards of Effective Practice

To prepare our candidates to meet the goal of student learning, we focus on the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for beginning teachers.

Knowledge

Beginning teachers must have knowledge in many areas to be effective instructional leaders. We believe they must understand themselves and learners. They must understand the communities in which they work and in which their students live and learn. They need to have subject matter knowledge and the understanding of how to organize curriculum and instruction so that students learn. The UMM TEP has five broad goals for candidate knowledge. Though the goals are in a numbered list, we believe that the knowledge is connected and is not achieved in a particular order.

  1. Self: UMM candidates understand their individual perspectives and strengths as beginning teachers and use the knowledge of self to create and implement effective instruction for student learning.
  2. Students: UMM candidates understand how students learn, grow, and develop in general and how individual students and groups of students differ in important ways.
  3. Community: UMM candidates understand the many communities in which students live and learn, and candidates can communicate, problem solve, and lead effectively within these communities to help students learn.
  4. Subject Matter: UMM candidates thoroughly understand the central concepts, organization, and processes of the disciplines they teach and have a broad general knowledge that reflects multicultural and interdisciplinary perspectives.
  5. Pedagogy: UMM candidates understand educational theories and effective practices and know how to apply them appropriately for student learning.

Skills

Skills and knowledge are interwoven and separated only to describe them. In our program, we think of skills as the “doing” of our work. UMM candidates, in course assignments and clinical experiences, meet performance expectations that show their ability to demonstrate all aspects of the act of teaching. The following five goals provide the framework for the multiple skills that program graduates must demonstrate.

  1. Curriculum Innovation and Implementation: UMM candidates use their knowledge of self, students, community, and subject matter to create and use meaningful and integrated curriculum and instruction so that all students will learn.
  2. Instruction: UMM candidates effectively plan and use a variety of instructional strategies including new technologies that are organized effectively and appropriately for student learning.
  3. Assessment: UMM candidates use a variety of assessment strategies to determine student performance in relation to meaningful goals and objectives, and candidates use assessment results to ensure continued student learning.
  4. Management: UMM candidates establish learning environments that focus on student learning and include effective routines and management techniques.
  5. Communication: UMM candidates effectively communicate with students, parents, faculty, staff, and administration for a variety of instructional and non-instructional purposes.

Dispositions

Dispositions important for beginning teachers are those demonstrable and observable values, attitudes, and traits that are associated with effective teaching and with the relationships teachers build to promote student success. Six goals are encouraged for UMM TEP candidates.

  1. Collaboration: Candidates work together with others to achieve positive student-centered results.
  2. Ethics/Integrity: Candidates demonstrate truthfulness, professional behavior, and trustworthiness.
  3. Equity/Respect: Candidates demonstrate their belief that all students deserve equal opportunities, fair treatment, and instructional decisions based on their needs. They honor, value, and demonstrate consideration for self and others.
  4. Efficacy/Commitment to Learning: UMM candidates believe not only that all students can learn but also that they themselves have the knowledge and commitment to action that will ensure that all students do learn. They demonstrate respect for knowledge acquisition for self and students.
  5. Responsibility: Candidates act independently and demonstrate accountability, reliability, and judgment.
  6. Enthusiasm/Openness: UMM candidates exhibit the intellectual curiosity, energy, reflection, and risk-taking abilities associated with ongoing learning and continued professional development and leadership. They engage and motivate others and demonstrate flexibility and positive risk taking.

The Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice (SEP) provide the essential framework for structuring our program and must be met by every teacher licensed in the state of Minnesota. We believe in the value of the SEP and the Conceptual Framework Alignment table shows how they are present in our conceptual framework.

Student Learning

All efforts within the UMM TEP are aimed at the overall goal of student learning for all students in all places.





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