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Conceptual Framework

Brief Overview

Wittenberg's Teacher Education program developed the theme of "Educational Leaders for Constructive Social Change," over a three-year span in 2001-2003. During an additional two year period (2005-07), we looked closely at our conceptual framework. We have reworded and added to our commitments, updated our research base, and considered carefully how we understand diversity, technology, and professional dispositions. Most significantly, we have refined and reworked our program outcomes so that they would be clearer to our students and to our school partners. Our pursuit of more clarity and definition has an operational purpose. We have been earnest about precision as we have undergone staffing changes and considered how to assess student performance more effectively.

None of the changes has altered our fundamental orientation as described during the last NCATE accreditation visit. We have retained both our theme and mission. More than ever we think that teachers must be advocates for all students, because we think that as citizens and as service professionals, teachers play pivotal roles in fostering the supportive communities where students thrive. The emphasis on civic engagement, on advocating for public schools as equitable democratic institutions, and for developing the whole person by honoring the integration of the academic, social, and spiritual, all of these components match well with the new mission of Wittenberg (2006). It matches the community that is our partner in teacher preparation. We have pride in our location. Wittenberg's Teacher Education program prepares teachers in a liberal arts institution located in a community where many students live in poverty and where there are severe academic and fiscal challenges. This is reason enough to be serious about making our mission a living and vital document.

Education Department Mission

Wittenberg's Teacher Education Program strives to integrate the ideals of moral responsibility, social consciousness, and vocational commitment into the lives of teachers in such a way that their character, competence, and community involvement establish them as leaders for constructive social change.

University Mission

Wittenberg University provides a liberal arts education dedicated to intellectual inquiry and wholeness of person within a diverse residential community. Reflecting its Lutheran heritage, Wittenberg challenges students to become responsible global citizens, to discover their callings, and to lead personal, professional, and civic lives of creativity, service, compassion, and integrity.

Philosophy, Purposes, Goals and Institutional Standards

The goals of our undergraduate program are created around what we regard as the three "C's" of responsive leadership: competence, character, and community. This conception flows from our commitment to educating the whole person whose intellectual, spiritual, and moral life is integrated in the activity of teaching and learning. Our conceptual framework is also informed by specific commitments that provide operational direction and give impetus both to our curricular program and to our program outcomes:

Commitment to Intellectual Inquiry

  • The capacity to persist in one's desire to learn and improve, to be self reflective, to consider growth collaboratively and honestly.

Commitment to Caring for the Whole Person

  • The capacity to understand how to maintain professional balance and consider thoughtfully how to care both for one's whole self as well as the whole selves of students.

Commitment to Diversity and Global Citizenship

  • The capacity to be self aware, to recognize the uses of privilege and power, and to learn from difference and cultural viewpoints even as we advocate for those who have been neglected, ill served, or oppressed.

Commitment to Leadership

  • The capacity to work intelligently and in partnership for a larger good.

Commitment to Service and Advocacy

  • The capacity to find one's vocation in purposeful, thoughtful service in the interest of all students and their communities.

Commitment to Technological Competence

  • The capacity to make informed, independent, and value-based judgments about acquiring and using materials, resources, and technical tools that serve the interests of students.

Commitment to Change

  • The capacity to courageously, honestly, and collaboratively seek the improvement of educational service for all learners.

Commitment to Professional Growth and Reflection

  • The capacity to value reflection and personal growth by taking risks, by interacting with and forming communities of commitment, and by being able to consider proportionately the social, political, and personal facets of teaching.

Undergraduate Program Outcomes

Goal 1. COMPETENCE: Develop professional competence in content knowledge, student learning, pedagogy, and curriculum development.

  • Demonstrates thorough content knowledge
  • Plans effective instruction
  • Implements instructional practices that support the achievement of all learners.

Goal 2. COMMUNITY:   Develop caring, supportive, respectful communities in which all students grow socially and academically.

  • Uses assessment to guide classroom instruction & evaluate learning
  • Establishes a safe, nurturing, accessible, & just learning community
  • Advocates for learning in school & community
  • Demonstrates global awareness & sensitivity towards issues affecting schools, communities, nations & the world.

Goal 3. CHARACTER: Develop character in terms of moral responsibility and professional commitment.

  • Demonstrates a commitment to professional growth and teaching excellence
  • Demonstrates the ethics and value associated with the teaching profession.

Graduate Program Outcomes

Knowledge -- Respond with understanding to the depth and complexity of human experience; develop a sense of vocation

Skills -- Recognize, define, and solve problems

  • Explain current developments in their teaching fields.
  • Articulate ways schools and teachers have responded to the challenges and opportunities of diverse social environments.
  • Frame curriculum in developmentally appropriate ways.
  • Describe educational missions in personal and institutional terms.
  • Describe models of school change in reference to the need for teacher leadership.

Dispositions -- Take moral responsibility; assume leadership

Knowledge Bases

At the heart of Wittenberg's approach to teacher education at both the graduate and undergraduate level is the belief that the classroom teacher is the most significant school-based agent affecting the academic and social success of P-12 students (Bransford, Darling-Hammond, & LePage, 2005; Sosniak, 1999; Goodlad, Mantle-Bromley, & Goodlad, 2004). Effective teacher education requires extensive training in which the arts and science faculty, teacher education faculty and practitioners in the local schools work in close partnership (Ball, 2000; Goodlad, Mantle-Bromley, & Goodlad, 2004; Goodlad, 1994; Sosniak, 1999).   Master practitioners play an extensive role both in evaluating candidate and program success and in helping with program design (Goodlad, 1994). Arts and science faculty provide a strong training in the liberal arts and in content field preparation (Ball, 2000; Goodlad, 1994; Floden & Meniketti, 2005).  Teacher education faculty provide pedagogical and curricular skills while attending to the thinking skills, to the vocational purposes, and to the civic engagement commitments that are essential to teacher education in a liberal arts setting (Cruickshank & Associates, 1996; Schein & Kommers, 1972; Grossman & Schoenfeld, 2005; Starko, 2002).

At Wittenberg field experiences are integrated into each class with successive field experience providing more extensive opportunities and increased responsibilities (Collins, Brown, and Holum, 1991). The instructor serves as the university supervisor, and faculty and school faculty also are given responsibility to evaluate each candidate's progress toward meeting program outcomes (Darling Hammond & Hammerness, 2005).  The outcomes reflect an integrated consideration of the intellectual and academic ability of students with matters of character and instructional performance (Darling Hammond & Hammerness, 2005, Zeichner & Gore, 1990; Goodlad, 1990).

This integrated approach is consistent with the mission of Wittenberg.  It is also consistent with an understanding of educational purposes closely tied to the support of public schools as democratic institutions that should be designed to serve all populations equitably and justly (Goodlad, Mantle-Bromley, & Goodlad, 2004; Fenstermacher, 1990; Barber, 1997).  We wish to foster teachers who are educational leaders and advocates for the types of communities that attend to the whole child, that prepare children to be full participants in a democratic community, and that do not overemphasize assessments and procedures most closely associated with economic aims (Soder, 1999; Goodlad, Mantle-Bromley, & Goodlad, 2004; Barber, 1997; Wiggins, 1998).

  • Respond flexibly and coherently to classroom problems.
  • Assess the effectiveness of instruction and interpret student response and work.
  • Access and apply best practice techniques in the classroom.
  • Form collaborative networks for problem solving in and beyond the classroom.
  • Develop and carry out research projects, which directly affect student learning.
    • Respond positively to the opportunities, challenges, and issues of diverse environments.
    • Form, articulate, and defend personal and collective senses of mission.
    • Value opportunities to supplement personal knowledge through new and imaginative research.
    • Form supportive learning communities in their buildings and classrooms.
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