Program Philosophy

The masters program is aligned with the conceptual framework of the teacher education program that views the teacher as an effective steward or manager of knowledge, learner development, environment, and instruction.

First, as stewards of knowledge teachers are responsible to society and the culture at large to transmit and make understandable the huge knowledge base that is now in existence. As stewards, or managers of knowledge, teachers must have a strong knowledge base in three areas: general knowledge, content area knowledge, and professional knowledge. Accredited teacher education programs are expected to provide general knowledge, content knowledge, and professional knowledge sufficient for the beginning professional teacher. The goal of the graduate program is to provide candidates with the opportunity to deepen their professional knowledge so that they are able to manage effectively the challenges of teaching, and are able to serve as role models and mentors of knowledge to colleagues.

Secondly, as stewards of learner development teachers have a responsibility to parents and to the students themselves to guide learners in their intellectual, social, emotional and moral development. All aspects of teaching affect each student's personality, including the full range of physical, emotional, cultural, and rational potentials. It is, therefore, important for the teacher to conduct the day-to-day teaching activities in ways which contribute to the development of each student's fullest potential and that minimize influences which limit or distort the realization of potential. Effective teachers are able to identify pupil strengths and weaknesses and develop techniques to support pupil progress. They are able to use approaches which strengthen pupil initiative and self-responsibility. In addition, they are able to develop techniques which encourage pupil interaction, success and self-worth. Finally, effective teachers are able to capitalize on multicultural and exceptionality diversities in the classroom. By increasing their awareness and understanding of learner development, candidates in the graduate program will enhance their ability to adapt to the needs of learners.

Thirdly, as stewards of classroom/school environment teachers have a responsibility to administrators, parents, and the community to provide the best possible conditions for student learning. A teacher must use available elements including space, materials, facilities, time and people to make sure that specific learning tasks are accomplished. In addition, a teacher must attempt to create an atmosphere which promotes feelings of safety and encourages productive interaction. This requires the teacher to develop and implement a format to provide discipline and promote positive pupil behavior as well as develop and use techniques which focus and hold pupil attention. Beyond the classroom a teacher must establish strong bonds within the school community and the community at large. Teachers must be equipped to communicate with various audiences, including parents, other professionals, and peers. Graduate candidates are keenly aware of the crucial impact of environmental influences on learner performance and are equipping themselves to be effective practitioners, providing a learning environment that maximizes learning for all students.

Finally, as stewards of instruction teachers have a responsibility to the various disciplines to teach those disciplines with integrity and thoroughness. Teaching requires relating content from varied disciplines to the concepts under study and to the experiences of pupils. This requires that teachers establish balance in the curriculum and help pupils see both the nature of theory and its applications to life. In addition teachers must be able to demonstrate the elements of clarity, discussion, and visualization in lesson presentations. Through an understanding of research and practice related to instruction students are better able to become effective teachers. In the graduate program, candidates will have the opportunity to become familiar with research, writing, and debate about what constitutes best practice in classroom instruction. In the field based research project, the candidate will have the opportunity to make a personal contribution to this body of knowledge.