ACU's Teacher Education program highlighted as national stand-outPosted June 10, 2013
ACU’s Teacher Education Program is featured as a "promising prep program" in a recent report from the Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ). The report, TEACHING 2030: Leveraging Teacher Preparation 2.0, was written by more than a dozen CTQ-affiliated educators, all of whom conducted research, shared their teacher training experiences and discussed the essential components of teacher-education programs.
“Not only are the authors of this report professional educators themselves; they are also informed by research-based standards established by the defining organizations in our field,” says Dr. Dana Pemberton, professor and chair of ACU’s Department of Teacher Education. “Their level of expertise and experience lends extra credence to their recommendations.”
The authors point out that strong programs offer multiple opportunities to meaningfully connect theory and practice, preparing teachers to engage in continuous inquiry and improvement of their own practice. According to the report, ACU “provides students with opportunities to participate in university research in PK-12 settings.”
It also credits ACU for focusing heavily on performance assessments and peer-to-peer observations, with teacher candidates urged to learn from professor feedback and also provide constructive feedback that reflects on practice. ACU’s approach is consistent with recommendations from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) Blue Ribbon Panel on clinical preparation.
According to the report, ACU’s “programmatic components and philosophy are anything but traditional,” emphasizing instruction “that isn’t about the technology; it’s about creating 21st-century schools in which students can collaborate, communicate and think critically about rigorous content standards. Interdisciplinarity is expected.”
“The report is very honest about the historical and contemporary challenges we face in teacher preparation, but the authors recognize that there are many excellent programs preparing professionals to be well-equipped for teaching in today’s classrooms,” adds Pemberton.
Among the report’s other observations and conclusions:
- ACU recognizes that teacher candidates, despite being 21st-century students with unprecedented access to technology, often come in with a predetermined understanding of teaching and education. Often, it is simply what they have experienced: the old model of "lecture, memorize, regurgitate." ACU works to teach them a new view and philosophy for education, to understand that there is not only one correct answer, but many.
- ACU has partnerships with local school districts, especially with the elementary school program. In almost every course, teacher candidates have “in-the-field” work going beyond traditional observation opportunities and student teaching. For example, candidates provide additional support for struggling students at high schools with block schedules. Candidates also engage in research at local schools as part of their program.
- ACU’s program helps teacher candidates develop a deep understanding of culture and community. Because some students come into the program with preconceived ideas about high-needs students, ACU facilitates opportunities for candidates to spend time in the community to better understand the families with whom they will be working.
- ACU stays connected with students during pre-service and student teaching opportunities through on-site visits, blogs and emails. Mobile learning also keeps them connected with one another and professors. The program is dedicated to keeping in touch with alumni, offering Summer Institutes for graduates to attend free for the first five years after graduation, to gain certification credits. ACU is also creating an online community for alumni and professionals within districts.
- Candidates at ACU are prepared for technology-rich, 21st-century learning environments that do not yet exist in many districts. Fittingly, the program prepares students to be change leaders as part of their teaching roles, exercising creativity and consensus-building.
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