Coefficient –The 2018 Summer Institute Statement
Teacher education at a public liberal arts university forms an intersection of different worlds: academic culture, community values, public policy, politics, tax-supported funding, accountability, tradition, innovation. Teacher education recognizes and models good teaching. It respects deep learning. It embraces teamwork across subject areas, demographics, geographies. It carries those collaborative values into our local communities. Teacher education shows how multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural, and multi-ability instruction happens on a public liberal arts university campus.
Area One — Characteristics of Effective Teacher Preparation at a Public Liberal Arts University
- Graduates whose teaching shows creative, critical thinking; self-assessment and reflection; and broad, rich, multi-disciplinary understanding. Together these demonstrate that our graduates recognize and apprehend the larger contexts we learn in.
- Graduates who are able to engage authentically with public stakeholders and effectively demonstrate accountability for content and pedagogy. Ultimately, the accountability of our own teacher education programs is connected to the effectiveness of our alumni and to the students they teach.
- Community-focused programs that model — for the rest of campus and for local communities — lifelong learning and experiential learning. We help people change and be familiar with new tools, new strategies, and new literacies.
- An understanding of how professional programs are made unique by being taught in a liberal arts context. We shape how the next generation looks at, works with, promotes, develops, and makes the liberal arts relevant.
- Education faculty and program alumni who can structure sustainable professional development. They are able to be advocates for themselves and for their school programs in the 21st century.
Area Two — Next Steps: Recommendations to Each Other & to Administration
Our education programs need to be more intentional about telling our stories. Education converts challenges into insights. Education programs offer one of the most productive spaces in academia — inviting (not divided) spaces in which to talk with students, faculty, staff, and community about discomfort, visibility, invisibility, inclusivity, positionality, contexts, types of literacy, alternative types of communication, what our voices are, and what it means when we interact with each other.
Tell the Story to Each Other and to Our Students: Be the Voice
- Build a culture that values education by showing what is going on. Make our values and our connection to the university’s liberal arts mission explicit in course objectives, in meetings, in signage, in recruitment materials.
- Use Digital Storytelling to have students create stories, to have alumni showcase their work in a school district, to have programs share successful strategies that help our colleagues and students achieve success — show how we listen and understand mentoring people from different positionalities.
- Collaborate with COPLAC peers to promote telling the story about our research and the scholarship of discovery, integration, application, engagement, teaching, and learning.
Tell the Story to Each Other and to Our University Colleagues: Promotion & Tenure Guidelines
- Tell the story — Ensure that our department or university values the Ernest Boyer Teacher-Scholar Model (1990) and its view of scholarship: discovery, integration, application, engagement, public sharing, the study of teaching and learning processes. Our Promotion & Tenure Guidelines should acknowledge the uniqueness of education programs and the “peer reviewed” forms of assessment we engage with. What others often perceive of as “service” — designing curriculum for a state or district system, writing accreditation reports, supervising multiple internships in varied contexts — needs to be recognized and valued as research, creative, and scholarly activity.
- Tell the story — Highlight evidence-based best practices. Show the impact of our research, scholarly, and creative activity. How many students, mentor teachers, school districts, alumni, community organizations, regional partnerships did this activity connect with?
- Tell the story — Be sure that our tenure-track faculty have sample portfolios to share and that deans and promotion & tenure committees can look at these to see what scholarship, service, and teaching outside their own fields should look like.
Tell the Story to Our University Colleagues: Dialogue
- Visit other departments and community organizations and be part of campus-wide core courses, programs and initiatives. Be a voice about what teacher education is required to do for licensure and what it does for students, for the liberal arts, for community and regional economic development, for literacies, for adaptability to change in the 21st Century.
- Visit other professional programs (e.g., Nursing, Business, New Media, Communication Disabilities, Computer Science, etc.) and talk about shared tensions and shared distinctive qualities within our liberal arts context.
- Think as a system. Build our local and state-wide and COPLAC connections. Tell our university’s Marketing and Communications, Admissions, Student Success, Alumni and Advancement Offices how our Education Programs use a Leadership Perspective Model — we all value and learn from each other — and how, as Education Programs, we promote networks of learning in local and regional communities.
- Build local and regional and consortial organic partnerships. Connect education content areas and online/augmented reality/experiential reality resources (e.g., chemistry or math, etc.) and people and professional development opportunities to maximize opportunities for faculty, students, and districts to do their best work.
Tell the Story to Prospective Students: Liberal Arts Values and Education Values
- Knowledge sharing not knowledge hoarding. Education Programs help students develop a multi-faceted professional identity, a partnership identity, and a personal learning network.
- An Education Program in a Liberal Arts Context reinforces systems thinking; teaches humanics — working with human nature, human affairs, the humanness (social, emotional, respect, compassion, etc.) — in a world of standardization; prepares us to hear multiple perspectives, to let people tell their stories, and to identify resources for personal and community needs; retrains our language so that we give voice to difference, to the unique, to the distinctive; trains us to practice evidence-based scholarship — to teach data, collect data, evaluate data; prepares us to work with new literacies — to understand technology, its consequences, and its impact on our field and on our careers in education.
Tell the Story to Our Communities: Necessary Networks
- Education Programs naturally build collaborations and networks — with students and their self-determined learning (heutagogy), with instructional designers, with other teachers, with parents/guardians, with elected officials, with businesses and local tax bases.
- Education Programs reflect Community — Teacher Preparation integrates local classroom and experiential learning opportunities and makerspaces. It involves service learning. It highlights decision making and public policy. It models how professional development and lifelong learning, both professionally and personally, are community necessities.
Area Three: Aspirations
To continue to embrace collaboration across subject areas, demographics, and geographies, Education Programs at public liberal arts colleges might prioritize:
- Making the case for more resources, e.g, additional full-time faculty or funding for teacher education residencies.
- Working with our university and COPLAC colleagues for external funding for Virtual Reality/Experiential Reality/Maker Spaces. The Sonoma State University Maker Educator Certificate Program is one COPLAC example of this.
- Working with our university and COPLAC colleagues to support students who are homeless or food insecure or test insecure (develop fundraising to support students who need financial support for required licensure tests).
- Teaching design thinking for school administrators — using design thinking to boost creative approaches to issues in schools.