Philosophy and Benefits
The following belief statements are congruent with and extend the vision/mission statement and represent the philosophy of the unit. In each case, the processes of inquiry and reflection will be used by candidates and practitioners to further the principal aim of facilitating learning and development. Each statement is also a focal point for informing practice through inquiry and reflection. As a whole, they point the way toward the development of appropriate skills, knowledge and dispositions that facilitate learning and foster development in all students.
- We believe professional educators possess the underlying disposition that learning and personal growth is achievable for and expected of all. Pedagogically congruent practice: Educators holding this belief have high expectations for all students' learning, resist "giving up" on students, and avoid making excuses if students fail to learn. This belief is apparent in their knowledge of the psychology of learning and motivation. It is also apparent in the skills used in choosing a variety of teaching and assessment strategies appropriate for the learning needs of all students. This knowledge and these skills include but are not limited to: strategies for grouping for learning, models of teaching, the use of a variety of learning materials, and an awareness of diverse learning modalities.
- We believe professional educators are competent in the content areas they teach. They possess the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed for facilitating the creation of understanding in content realms. Pedagogically congruent practice: Educators holding this belief seek competence and understanding of concepts, skills, and processes of the disciplines included in their endorsement areas. They are ready and able to think on their feet. Their command of relevant technology and content yields a level of confidence that permits experimentation with teaching approaches while it encourages the construction of understanding on the part of students through the organization, orchestration, and presentation of interconnected ideas.
- We believe professional educators understand and value different ways of knowing. These include, but are not limited to, the objective scientific tradition, rational evidence-based argument, as well as intuitive, human connections that involve knowing from accumulated cultural wisdom. Pedagogically congruent practice: Educators who hold this belief diagnose, assess, and facilitate student learning as dependent on a range of contextual variables, i.e. past experiences, cultural predispositions, new information, local context, etc., and are able to select and implement appropriate instructional approaches to fit their students' various ways of knowing. These educators appreciate and value culturally-bound knowing and use this understanding in their interactions with learners.
- We believe professional educators, utilizing appropriate interactive communication skills, engage in and foster positive interpersonal interactions. These interactions serve to strengthen relationships between and among people enabling them to contribute to the creation of strong families, communities, and governing entities. Pedagogically congruent practice: Educators who hold this belief get to know their students well. They communicate in a positive way; they provide instructive feedback that helps students improve as learners; and they demonstrate respect for, and a commitment to, the cultures and communities from which students come. Through effective communication, they facilitate the learning of all students.
- We believe professional educators engage in and promote life-long learning. They are intrinsically motivated to think critically, to make decisions, to learn independently, to use the reliable resources at their disposal, including technology, and to continue to develop mentally, physically, and emotionally. Pedagogically congruent practice: Educators who hold this belief possess the disposition to habituate the acquisition of knowledge and instructional skills though critical and reflective thinking, professional reading, and action research using both traditional and technological methods. In short, educators who hold this belief exhibit a love of learning in every pedagogical decision they make. By extension, professional educators promote and foster this love of learning in all students.
- We believe that professional educators demonstrate a caring attitude for all people. Pedagogically congruent practice: Educators who hold this belief exhibit an ethic of caring in everything they do. They look for the good in students. They recognize students for their efforts at thinking critically as well as for their desire to participate. They are careful in their recognition; they rarely praise individual students publicly, use private, specific praise sparingly, encourage students frequently, and dignify student's answers when they are incorrect. Their classrooms are positive, learner-centered environments where students are active, curious, successful risk-takers and decision-makers. Educators who hold this belief recognize the importance of shifting the responsibility for much of what goes on in the classroom from the teacher to the student. They recognize that conflict is how students learn to solve problems, build positive-self esteem and create a sense of self-efficacy. Therefore, they avoid punishment, coercion, sarcasm, ridicule and manipulation with rewards. They encourage students to reflect on the choices they make and the consequences of their actions for themselves and for others. Their goal is to help students develop the same caring attitude for themselves, their fellow community members, and more distant global populations.
- We believe professional educators value diversity. Pedagogically congruent practice: Educators who hold this belief encourage and seek different ways of perceiving, knowing, and valuing. The content and instructional strategies chosen represent a sophisticated selection process that legitimates the experiences, needs, histories, and learning preferences of diverse populations across the full range of traditional school subjects. As well, the instructional approaches of professional educators are marked by sensitivity to potential learning roadblocks such as differing language backgrounds, and cultural ways of perceiving, knowing and valuing skills and information.
- We believe professional educators provide experiences and assessments that facilitate the developmental growth of all learners. To this end, professional educators continually plan and implement assessment strategies that serve to evaluate student development. In addition, they assess their own teaching and its effect on the learning of all students. They systematically inquire and reflect, using assessment feedback, to improve their teaching. Pedagogically congruent practice: Educators who hold this belief are disposed to vary their teaching episodes and assessments according to the developmental level, learning preferences, and modalities of their students. Educators know and are skilled in the use of teaching strategies and assessments that continually challenge and provide feedback before, during, and after learning activities. These include, but are not limited to, knowledge and skill in using integrated learning units, technology, cooperative learning approaches, direct instructional approaches, and multi-sensory approaches.
- We believe professional educators value past and future perspectives that inform current circumstances and, further, that this belief yields an integrated, "real world" approach to educational practice. Pedagogically congruent practice: Educators who hold this belief recognize that knowledge is not static-that it has been shaped and re-shaped according to changing conditions. This recognition yields an understanding of the fact that the "real world" is encountered in ways not particularly discernible by a single-subject perspective. Consequently, educators who hold this belief integrate school subjects to produce curricular relevance and thereby increase student leverage over problems common to the human condition.
- We believe professional educators seek, adopt and utilize available technological teaching and learning tools. Pedagogically congruent practice: Educators who hold this belief continue to explore and evaluate innovative technologies and use them appropriately to help all students learn.