Dispositions important for beginning teachers are those values, attitudes, and traits that are associated with effective teaching. These professional dispositions are those associated with the relationships that effective teachers build with others to promote student success. As presented in the UMM TEP conceptual framework, candidates must demonstrate the following dispositions:
- Collaboration: Candidates work together with others to achieve positive student-centered results.
- Ethics/Integrity: Candidates demonstrate truthfulness, professional behavior, and trustworthiness.
- 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.
- 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.
- Responsibility: Candidates act independently and demonstrate accountability, reliability, and judgment.
- 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 UMM teacher education faculty believes that well prepared teacher candidates understand and can demonstrate knowledge of professional skills and dispositions. Because we believe that the possession of certain dispositions is essential to success as teachers and professionals, we assess these professional values, attitudes, and traits regularly during the program, especially as applied in school settings during field experiences. As shown in the Conceptual Framework Alignment, the UMM TEP professional dispositions are aligned to the Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice. Candidates have opportunities to learn, discuss, and reflect upon their own growth towards professionalism.The unit’s Communication of Concern process is designed to assist candidates who are experiencing difficulty in meeting the standards of effective practice, especially Standards 9 and 10 which focus on reflection, professional development, collaboration, ethics, and relationships. While serious concerns about the professional performance or growth of our students do not often occur, some students demonstrate patterns of behavior which need to be addressed honestly and directly. The probationary process is designed to assist both students in planning for professional growth and the TEP faculty in facilitating growth and making decisions regarding admission and continuation in the program, student teaching, and/or recommendation for licensure.
The professional dispositions outlined in the conceptual framework are assessed in field experiences. Evaluations are completed by cooperating teachers who observe the candidates and make judgments based on performance. Midterm evaluations in ElEd 3111 and SeEd 4103 provide an opportunity for early intervention if necessary. Satisfactory assessments are required for candidates to receive a passing grade for the course. In student teaching, cooperating teachers complete the professional disposition assessment at the midpoint of the experience. The evaluations indicate that almost all candidates show evidence of the required professional behaviors and attitudes at the time of the midpoint evaluation.
We completed a disposition evaluation analysis to see if there were specific areas of improvement for the unit to consider. In the sample analyzed (N=54), 63% of the candidates provided evidence of meeting every one of the 39 items included on the assessment. In fact, the overall median score was 39. On a holistic scoring of the assessment (1-Unsatisfactory, 2-Satisfactory but limited, 3-Satisfactory, 4-Clear evidence), candidates earned a mean score of 3.13 and mode of 4. Though candidate performance was overwhelmingly positive, we looked at individual items to determine areas for improvement. Initiating contact with parents was not observed for nearly a third of our candidates. Communication with special education professionals was another area where not all of our candidates had the opportunity to meet the requirement. We recognized that this was in part to the structure of the assignment and are working to address it.The data in Program Assessments of Professional Dispositions indicate that our candidates do exceedingly well in items related to professional dispositions. Of the ten items assessed in the summative evaluation, the two consistently highest scoring items are item 9 Reflection and Professional Development and 10 Collaboration, Ethics, and Relationships. 98% of candidates are rated proficient or above on the standards and most are awarded the distinguished rating. Portfolio scores on relevant standards are similar in their consistently high ratings.
Preparing teachers who focus on student learning for all students in all places is at the center of our conceptual framework. Our goals for professional dispositions directly relate to fairness and the belief that all students can learn. Embedded in the course work are readings, discussions, and assignments that build their knowledge and skill in this endeavor. In their field experiences, candidates demonstrate fairness and a focus on learning for all. Every candidate must complete at least one field experience in a cross-cultural or multicultural setting. This experience provides the opportunity to work with students of different backgrounds and with different needs. These professional dispositions are assessed by the measures explained above, and the data provide evidence that our candidates are developing these important attitudes toward teaching and learning.
Key assessments for candidate dispositions of fairness and belief that all students can learn also include summative student teaching evaluations and candidate portfolios focusing on student learning and diverse learners. As shown in Program Assessments of Professional Dispositions, from 96 to 100% of candidates each year demonstrate proficiency in these areas. The few remaining candidates pass the standard at the minimum level of performance.
Follow-up surveys of graduates and employers are administered in the first year of the graduate’s teaching experience. The three-year average response rate is 58% for graduates and 63% for employers. The exact response rates for group and year are included on the matrix.
Follow-Up Surveys of Professional Dispositions show that employers have consistently given graduates high ratings in areas of adapting to needs of students, multicultural understanding, and professional responsibility. Graduates also report being well prepared in these areas. Their responses reveal that they felt prepared in their understanding that all children can learn at high levels, teaching approaches, communication, and working with parents and other professionals.