The primary goal of the Teacher Education Programs is to help prospective and practicing teachers become introspective teachers who are reflective in the decisions that they make and who are able to interact with their environments in meaningful and responsive ways. To guide prospective and practicing teachers toward this goal, the departments developed the following Teacher as Decision-Maker Model.
TEACHER AS DECISION MAKER
The Teacher Education faculty support prospective and practicing teachers in their development of foundational and pedagogical content knowledge(s) necessary to assume multiple decision-making roles in their classrooms, schools and communities. Our basic and advanced teacher education programs are based upon the belief that the teacher is a critical instructional decision-maker. In this role as decision-maker, teachers frequently make decisions resulting in a variety of learning experiences in their classrooms. The prospective and practicing teachers in our programs use the Teacher as Decision-Maker Model in their professional practice as they pedagogically reason about what is taught in the classroom, to whom, and in what way.
The ever-changing and multiple roles of teachers require decision-making skills necessary for success in highly complex school and diverse community environments in which they practice. Effective teachers view their students as individuals shaped by varied histories. From this holistic perspective teachers make informed instructional choices designed to accommodate differences in student learning. We strive to inspire our prospective and practicing teachers to develop critical thinking and reflective practices. Our programs provide instruction, clinical and field-based experiences that increase knowledge of self and others as cultural beings, cultivate effective strategies to address diversity, nurture sensitive and caring attitudes and promote equity in schools and society. All professional studies courses continue to have a practicum component. Field experiences for prospective teachers continue to be early, culturally varied, frequent, and rigorous in their substance and evaluation. Prospective and practicing teachers find that they reach a new comprehension about teaching and learning as they use the Teacher as Decision-Maker Model to "reason" about their teaching practice and in their implementation of effective learning experiences.
Decision-Making through Interaction and Introspection
The role of decision-making occurs through two primary processes: interaction and introspection. Through interaction, teachers examine the varied facets of their environments and respond to them. Then they make appropriate decisions to facilitate P-12 learning within that environment. Interaction is a responsive process. Interaction patterns involve teachers with other professionals, parents, paraprofessionals, the community and industry, and most importantly, students. Additionally, teachers must be aware of and responsive to students' interactions within the classroom and the effect that these interactions have upon learning and the learning environment.
As teachers examine and analyze their decisions, they undertake an introspective reflection. Through this introspective process, they are then able to assess their decisions within the context of their values. As teachers examine the interactive processes, the reflective insights they gain are introspective in nature. Introspection is a reflective process.
The role of decision-making, enacted through the processes of interaction and introspection, involves three primary contexts: The Body of Knowledge Context, the Holistic/Student-Centered Context, and the Social Setting Context.
The Body of Knowledge Context
The Body of Knowledge Context refers to the broad academic preparation in subject-matter areas. Inherent in this context is the recognition that teachers must acquire an in-depth knowledge of subject-matter content that they will or do teach, appropriate to their level of teaching. Additionally, this subject-matter knowledge must be complemented by an understanding of education theory, as well as current trends in educational research, practical applications of theory, and in stages of growth and development. The increasing role that technology plays as a means through which teaching and learning occur must also be considered within this context. The Body of Knowledge Context:
1. Is based upon knowledge of subject matter;
2. Is both theoretical and practical, combining ideas from the academic subject-matter areas, sociology, psychology, and pedagogy;
3. Reflects problem-solving, critical thinking, and creative thinking.
Teachers must possess a background of basic knowledge involving individual content areas, educational theory, and current trends in educational research and in child/adolescent development.
The Holistic/Student-Centered Context
The Holistic/Student-Centered Context implies the need to prepare both prospective and practicing teachers to address and to meet the total developmental needs of P-12 students. We believe that decisions are best made when teachers view their students holistically and make instructional choices from a holistic perspective. The Holistic/Student-Centered Context:
1. Provides an emphasis on learning in terms of total development of the student (i.e., physical, emotional, social and the cognitive/creative/intellectual);
2. Enhances a concern for and recognition of more than the academic development of students by helping them to meet their own needs;
3. Reflects an opportunity for flexibility in decision-making based upon individual needs rather than on a strict adherence to the rigidity of the system.
The Social Setting Context
The Social Setting Context implies that learning does not exist in a vacuum. The Body of Knowledge Context and the Holistic/Student-Centered Context cannot exist in isolation from the broader perspective that relates the world of schooling to its total environment. Schools are both a reflection of their society and an integral part of society. In this way, prospective and practicing teachers should recognize the variety and range of differences within a pluralistic society. Throughout their programs, candidates gain an understanding of the interrelations among these three components. Prospective and practicing teachers learn to reflect upon:
1. The importance of social variables on teaching/learning;
2. How different cultural variables affect students' in-school performance;
3. The multi-cultural facets of society as they are manifested in daily teaching;
4. The on-going nature of change and how it affects the educational process.
Goals of the Teacher Education Program
The programs are designed to assist beginning and practicing teachers to develop as reflective (introspective) decision-makers who are responsive to their environments (interactive), identify goals for each of the three contexts for learning, the Body of Knowledge Context, the Holistic/Student-Centered Context, and the Social Setting Context. There are three context goals for the program:
1. To assist candidates' understanding of decision making from a holistic/student-centered perspective.
2. To enable candidates to make meaningful decisions about subject-matter areas, based on an appropriate body of knowledge.
3. To provide candidates with experiences that will lead to an understanding of social contexts, and will provide an opportunity to apply the body of knowledge from a holistic/student-centered perspective in actual teaching situations.
The programs assist prospective and practicing teachers to achieve these goals by applying the processes of introspection and interaction throughout each course in our programs. The individual courses provide opportunities for prospective and practicing teachers to enhance their ability to be introspective and interactive as they make decisions about their role as teachers reflecting the three contexts of the model.
These processes of interaction and introspection occur throughout SVSU Teacher Education programs as candidates are asked to:
1. Examine and assess the learning environment;
2. Reflect upon the educational choices and decisions they make;
3. Recognize and reflect upon the unique characteristics of each individual learner;
4. Determine what their students should learn;
5. Examine how students learn;
6. Reflect upon how students learn;
7. Assess the appropriateness and relevance of their curriculum; and
8. Determine the needs of students to provide them with the tools to become positive, successful members of society.
Objectives of the Teacher Education Programs
The Teacher Education objectives were developed from the Teacher as Decision-Maker Model. They provide a guide for both faculty and prospective and practicing teachers as they interact within the programs. The following objectives address the need for prospective and practicing teachers to demonstrate an understanding of the Teacher as Decision-Maker model. Prospective and practicing teachers use what they learn from the three contexts within the model as they make decisions about their instructional planning, teaching, assessing the learning environment, and reflecting upon the effectiveness of instruction.
Upon completion of basic and advanced teacher education programs, prospective and practicing teachers are expected to:
1. Utilize reflective and responsive decision-making skills to become critical and creative thinkers and problem solvers;
2. Demonstrate reflective and responsive decision making based upon the individual needs of P-12 students;
3. Develop positive relationships with P-12 students by being responsive to their unique natures and needs;
4. Demonstrate the ability to adapt the learning environment to meet the unique characteristics and needs of all students;
5. Apply their knowledge of subject-matter areas through the design of purposeful teaching and learning experiences for all children;
6. Reflect an awareness of and a responsiveness to the diversity within the social setting of the schools;
7. Recognize the critical role of the social setting by establishing positive relationships with varied members within the community in which the school is located;
8. Apply decision-making introspectively and interactively;
9. Integrate appropriate technology to the learning environment.