Conceptual Framework and Statement of Philosophy
Description of the Conceptual Framework
The Southeast Missouri State University College of Education seeks to prepare teachers, administrators and counselors by developing the skills and competencies needed by its students to become educated persons and successful, competent professionals. The overall goal for the College is "Excellence and Distinction in all Programs and Services." The conceptual framework identified by Southeast Missouri State University College of Education's professional community is best denoted as the Preparation of Competent, Caring, Reflective Professional Educators. Thus the theme of the College revolves around The Competent, Caring, Reflective Professional Educator, Administrator or Counselor." This section of the report describes the conceptual framework, its development, and its relationship to professional education standards.
It is the collaborative belief of the faculty of the College of Education at Southeast Missouri State University and the professional community of educators who work with the College to prepare future educators of all levels that any overarching statement or theme must encompass a vision for the entire college and its constituent parts. That vision, encapsulated within a theme statement, is to prepare the pre-service teacher and to encourage and support the professional teacher, the administrator and the counselor in their efforts to at all times be, act and believe as caring, reflective and competent professionals in their respective domains.
Given that such a vision is an amalgam resulting from divergent constituencies, even within the broad field of education, it is important for us to be clear on what constitutes the foundational pieces on which this vision rests. While the primary tenets of this vision are our collective belief that to be a professional in education, including the different modalities of teaching, administration and counseling, one must perforce be caring, reflective and competent in both the personal and professionals senses, equally important are the penumbra components that we believe are both required and evoked by those three attributes. These components are to be found in the collegially derived descriptions for teacher education, administrator education and counselor education. We have distilled the heart of our visions for each of these areas as separate descriptions, because we felt that while intertwined in the College and in the field, each approaches the key components in a manner and through curricular and pedagogical means commensurate to that field.
The general theme of the vision as noted above is that each of these areas endeavors to nurture and prepare the pre-service student and challenge and stimulate the continuing professional to be a caring, reflective and competent professional, which includes continuous endeavors to creatively incorporate technology throughout their individual subject area fields, to promote understanding and appreciation for diversity, and to demonstrate the continuous effort to develop, utilize and assess proficiencies according to the best standards as evidenced in professional, state and national standards.
Teacher Education (see fig. 1)
Southeast Missouri State University has built its teacher education programs upon certain fundamental principles:
First, it is our belief that professional teachers are caring, reflective, competent and knowledgeable of the human condition, the world, and the subject matter they profess to teach. Teachers must know and understand the physical, psychological, social, and aesthetic dimensions of human life and their implications for ethics, culture, human values and perceptions. They must understand the diverse social, cultural, political, and physical environments in which human life exists and be able to create instructional opportunities that are adapted to the diverse learner. (Commitment to Diversity, NCATE, 2000; MoSTEP, 1999) Teachers must understand and be able to communicate the essential knowledge, ideas, concepts, questions, arguments and methods of the teaching field; and thus individually develop the professional commitments and dispositions professed by all educators. Teachers must recognize the importance of and be able to affect long range curricular planning, its implementation and assessment (MoSTEP, 1999). Further they must understand and be able to implement a coherent approach that connects reflectively curriculum planning, pedagogical implementation and instruction, and follow-up and assessment. Thus creating in the constructivist sense, a coherent feedback loop for life long teaching improvement, so as to maintain a continuous improvement in the learning environment and experience for the P-12 student. At the same time, they must understand the various local, state and national standards that guide education today and be able to continuously develop and align their curriculum, instruction and assessment within the parameters set by these standards. Competent, reflective and professional teachers must be well versed in the methods of inquiry in their academic discipline as well as in terms of teaching (MoSTEP, 1999). The principle sources of this knowledge are the experiences of the teacher, a sound liberal education, and for those who teach in the secondary school, a thorough grounding in the academic discipline that they teach.
Second, caring, reflective, competent professional teachers must be skilled in the art of teaching. To teach is to make it possible for someone else to learn something in a particular setting. The understanding of effective verbal, non-verbal, technological and media communication is integral to this process, as is an understanding of student learning and development so as to provide learning opportunities that meet the diverse intellectual, social and personal needs of all students (MoSTEP, 1999). Developing the necessary skills of teaching requires the investigation of (a) the components of the act of teaching; (b) motivating and managing diverse individuals involved in learning; (c) the means to facilitate and assess both the teaching and the learning to ensure the continuous development of all students and the teacher. It includes acquiring the knowledge of and ability to use continuously changing informational and educational technology in the classroom. It means a thorough understanding of the historical, philosophical, and social contexts of education and schooling in American society; the individual characteristics of learners and gauging their respective abilities to learn; and the role of the family, community, culture and other influences on learning and teaching. It absolutely requires the understanding of the diverse impacts of culture, ethnicity, linguistic heritage and socioeconomic background on learning, teaching, human interaction, values and human relations. Cultivating the skills of teaching through observation involves more than merely viewing the act of teaching; it also means being able to draw connections between what is studied about the act and what is observed - being able to connect theories of teaching and human development with the practices associated with both. Becoming a skillful teacher through experience requires application of and reflection on the knowledge of human development, of the subject to be taught, and of teaching itself.
Third, caring, reflective, competent professional teachers are active learners who strive to make active, literate, reflective, and life-long learners of their students. Active learning means to expand, refine, and enrich that which one knows by constantly seeking to know more about the world and others; reflective learning means to engage one's knowledge about the world and others critically and analytically, and including self-assessment of teaching goals, responsibilities and effectiveness. Literate teachers who are active and reflective learners serve as excellent role models for their students. Teachers who understand what it takes to learn and reflect actively are better able to produce students, who are active and reflective learners, a primary goal/aim of the teacher education program in the College.
Fourth, the caring, reflective and competent educators who make up the faculty of the College of Education and the community schools of its service region are fully cognizant of the need for continuous evaluation of their efforts as instructors as their program as a whole. Additionally, assessment data is used to evaluate teacher candidates' learning, ability to apply what they have learned in a P-12 setting and assess the impact of their teaching on student learning. As a college, we believe in the positive attributes of assessment and feedback to facilitate and develop effective teaching, teacher candidate learning and program efficacy. In pre-service teacher preparation, all individual programs (Early, Elementary & Special Education; Middle & Secondary Education; Physical Education) have developed defined assessment plans guided by the criteria and quality indicators mandated by state education and legislative agencies, regional and national accreditation bodies, and national level professional associations. The capstone assessment experience for preservice students is the MoSTEP (Missouri Standards for Teacher Education Programs, 1999) portfolio, but students are also introduced to other assessment processes used in Missouri schools, such as the Missouri Performance Based Teacher Evaluation (MPBTE, 1998) instrument, Missouri Assessment Program (MAP, 1997) and the Show-Me Standards. At the same time, pre-professionals are being taught and are beginning to use procedures, such as the Teacher Work Sample (Renaissance Grant, 1999), that focus on the classroom student's learning as the point of evaluation rather than teacher methodology. The essence of all levels and places of our evaluative efforts is primarily recursive in that we believe that all assessment must operate within the cycle of teaching and learning.
Although these principles underpin the preparation of professional teachers in the College of Education, it is also shared by all of the education community at Southeast Missouri State University and the teachers, counselors and administrators in the many partnership schools in the region. All involved with this shared vision believe strongly that they are not sufficient for achieving the goal of producing professional teachers - it is only under the actual conditions of teaching that one can become a competent, caring, reflective education professional. Nevertheless, important steps toward that ultimate goal can be taken by cultivating the program's principles in actual classroom settings under the guidance of master teachers. Prospective teachers thus have experience with progressively more complex teaching situations with diverse students, from aiding teachers to assuming full responsibility for the learning of all students, as an integral part of their undergraduate teacher education program.
Southeast recognizes that increasingly most teachers will have more than one college degree. Every effort is made to influence the professional teacher to be a continuous learner. Graduate teacher education seeks to assist graduate students in education in furthering their knowledge and understanding of teaching and learning, the content of the subjects they teach, the nature of curriculum and pedagogy, the learner and human development and the place of school as an institution in the life of our society. Briefly put, graduate teacher education is perceived by the faculty of the College as a continuation of the goals, vision and purposes represented here as to undergraduate pre-service professional preparation. The style and breadth of dispositions believed to be essential to the caring, reflective and competent teaching professional at the preprofessional level are equally so at the new and continuing professional levels.
In addition to forming the foundation of the teacher education programs at Southeast, the principles of caring, reflective, competent and professional teaching also underlie the graduate programs in Educational Administration and Counseling. The knowledge and understanding of teaching that comes from adhering to these principles constitutes an intellectual milieu for clearly comprehending the problems of school administration and counseling. It is the habit and practice of active and reflective learning, moreover, that enables these professional educators to deal effectively with the principles of teaching as well as with the fundamental principles of each of these professional educational programs.
School Administrators (see fig. 2)
The vision of the Educational Administration program in the College of Education is to prepare professional school leaders who are caring, reflective, competent and knowledgeable of the education process and who are prepared to meet the challenges of education in the twenty-first century. The goal is to produce "Leaders for Learning" (Wagner, 2001). This vision is carried out through a curriculum based on the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC, 1996) and the Educational Leader Constituents Council (ELLC, 1996) standards; quality instruction which is largely problem-based; and an internship that begins during coursework and extends into the field experience where students work supervised by multiple practicing administrators and university faculty.
An effective professional school leader is skilled in leadership, management, and policy development. Therefore, the program is committed to a problem-based approach to instruction that will develop school leaders who have the skills and dispositions to guide schools and communities in developing a shared vision and a common purpose for their respective schools (Houston, 2001); leaders who can collaborate with and facilitate discussions among all stakeholders within school communities; who can motivate constituents to perform at a high level; and who can create a sense of community. The program is also committed to developing leaders who value: high levels of learning for all; continuous school improvement; students becoming contributing members of society; professional development as an important part of school improvement; an informed public; the importance of diversity in the educational setting; and ethical principles in the decision making process. In addition to these values, school leaders must develop knowledge in the areas of school finance, school law, curriculum, and supervision as well as other management skills necessary to the well being of educational organizations. Educational leaders must also be able to understand the teaching and learning process and make management decisions that enhance that process. The program also integrates into the curriculum, information and problems that utilize technology in many ways including the collection and analysis of data for the purpose of making informed educational and management decisions in schools.
The program for the development of school leaders at both the building level and the district level involves activities, case studies, scenarios, and problems that are related to the ISLLC Standards (1996) and the ELCC Standards (1996). The candidates are assessed through the use of assignments identified in the course syllabi, entries in the internship portfolios, exams, the School Leadership Licensure Assessment (SLLA) for building level administrators, the School Superintendent Assessment (SSA) for district level administrators and follow-up alumni survey. These assessment tools are used to determine the individual knowledge, skills, dispositions and competencies of candidates and practicing school leaders and are also used to increase the effectiveness and efficacy of the program with the ultimate goal of improving the learning environment for P-12 students.
School Counselors (see fig. 3)
A caring, reflective, competent professional school counselor is skilled in fostering healthy psychological and emotional development and enhancing the learning and social environment of students. The counselor offers the intellectual and emotional support that assists students in developing the necessary skills to become productive citizens. The school counselor guides students in learning to explore options in life and in understanding and accepting responsibility for themselves and the consequences of their actions. The counselor complements and unifies the efforts of the family, the community, and the school faculty and administration on the student's behalf.
The art of school counseling evolves from study, observation, and experience. It builds upon the knowledge of the diverse historical, philosophical, and social contexts of school learning and counseling, and the Missouri Counselor Education Standards (MoCoEd, 1999) and the Council for Counseling and Related Education Program Standards (CACREP, 1994). The study of school counseling includes an in-depth examination of the physical, intellectual, and psychological growth of human beings, of the diversity of how and under what conditions they learn, how learning progresses into the higher education environment, how cultural diversity impacts students, and the means by which human psychological growth is fostered and evaluated. These include: professional and ethical orientation; counseling theories; the helping relationship; developmental theories; career development; group process and practice; research and assessment; social, cultural and diversity understanding; and supervised experience.
The study of the guidance dimension of counseling requires investigating the means and resources needed for career preparation; goals, objectives, and organization of curricula; ways and means of planning and implementing school guidance programs, including the effective uses of informational and educational technology; methods and resources for consultation about the well-being of the student; and utilization of appropriate legal, ethical, and professional standards. This knowledge must then be applied to the observation of counselors at work and to actual counseling experiences.
The program for the development of school counselors involves supervised experiential learning activities, and collaborative case studies related to the Missouri Counselor Education Standards (MoCoEd, 1999) and the Council for Counseling and Related Education Program Standards (CACREP, 1994). Counselor candidates are assessed through the use of assignments and experiences identified in the course syllabi, the internship portfolios, exams, the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam (CPCE) and follow-up alumni survey. These assessment tools are used to determine the individual knowledge, skills, dispositions and competencies of candidates and practicing alumni counselors are also used to increase the effectiveness and efficacy of the program with the ultimate goal of improving the learning environment for P-12 students.
College of Education Programs
The faculty of the College of Education at Southeast Missouri State University has designed professional education programs that recognize the potential demands of the 21st Century and reflect the University Mission Statement. This statement reads, "The purpose of the University is to provide students with high-quality, accessible and affordable educational programs responsive to the needs of the region, the nation, and the world. Southeast is an "engaged" university supporting a wide array of research and public service programs that enrich and extend the learning environment." Each program promotes the principles of competent, caring, reflective, professional practice in teaching, school administration, and guidance and counseling, respectively. Each program contains a carefully organized and integrated sequence of courses in which knowledge and skills learned at one level serve as a foundation for further learning and reflection at subsequent levels. Each program blends theory and practice in progressively complex field experiences. Each infuses technology in increasingly complex dimensions into student experiences and learning. Each places a priority on increasing the number of candidates who are representative of the diverse rural and urban communities that the university serves. Finally, to ensure the development of competent, caring, reflective practitioners, each program is built around a performance-based model. These models are standards-based and include the Missouri Performance Based Teacher Evaluation, the Missouri Standards for Teacher Education Programs, the Performance Standards for Education Professionals, Interstate New Teacher Assessment System Consortium (NTASC), NCATE standards, and specialty area and national board standards. School administration programs use the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Education Leadership Competencies, ISSLIC, and those of the appropriate administrator assessment center. The guidance and counseling program uses the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Competencies for Counselors and the Standards of the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and related Educational Programs.
All of these professional education programs contribute to meeting the educational challenges of the 21st Century by working with others in the university and the region to produce caring, reflective, and competent teachers. Southeast Missouri State University is dedicated to continuing a proud tradition of producing quality educators who have and will continue to shape the future of their communities, their state, and their nation through their dedicated, selfless devotion to students and education.
College of Education -- Adopted April, 2000 Revised January, 2002
Houston, P. (February, 2001). Superintendents for the 21st century: It's not just a job it's a calling. Phi Delta Kappan. pp. 429-433.
Locke, D. C., Myers, J. E., & Herr, E. L. (2001). The Handbook of Counseling. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Wagner, T. (January, 2001). Leadership for learning: An action theory for school change. Phi Delta Kappan. pp. 378-383.
What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future. (1996). Report of the National Commission on Teaching & America's Future. New York.