Conceptual Framework for the Master of Arts in Teaching at Earlham College:

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1 Conceptual Framework for the Master of Arts in Teaching at Earlham College: Awakening the Teacher Within It is worth acknowledging, in all humility, that, though there are many great, beautiful, noble callings for human beings ministry, healing, protecting the powerless through the law, making art, music and literature, the most wonderful things that human beings are privileged to do none of them is more valuable to the human race, to the future of the planet, or to our own souls, than the work of teaching. Dr. Paul Lacey, Professor Emeritus of English, Earlham College The framework for the Earlham College Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) Program originated in the College s belief that there is no more valuable calling than the work of teaching. Within this framework, the program seeks to awaken the teacher within, thereby equipping new teachers with the skills and knowledge to mold their classrooms into learning environments that foster lifelong learning in their own students. Those who are best prepared to meet the challenge of teaching are well grounded in their content field, passionate about their learning, and courageous in their response to this calling. The teaching-learning process at Earlham is shaped by a view of education as a process of awakening the teacher within, so that our students will become lifelong learners. Earlham College Mission Statement The College's Mission Statement shapes Earlham's Master of Arts in Teaching Program. As "lifelong learners" who have been academically successful and who are expected to continue to learn in their chosen discipline, M.A.T. candidates also learn about teaching and about awakening the teacher within in their own K-12 students so that they too will be "active, involved learners" for life. Given this vision, teachers matter greatly. Indeed, few professions are more valuable or rewarding. Awakening the teacher within and encouraging the recognition of the value of teaching are also part of the shared vision as expressed in the Earlham College Principles, Practices, and Queries. The conceptual framework, which reflects this shared vision, was approved by the M.A.T. 1

2 stakeholders and was the basis for the initial application to the state of Indiana, as approved by the program s stakeholders, by the Earlham College faculty, and by the Earlham Board of Trustees. The Mission Statement holds that Earlham College seeks to offer the "highest quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts... shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends." This principle is reflected in the College's national reputation for academic excellence. Earlham is now building a graduate program in teacher education that will complement its educational excellence at the undergraduate level. The program seeks individuals who have the competence and commitment to be outstanding teachers and who value the principles that inform the Earlham M.A.T. The program actively seeks graduates from institutions resembling Earlham in its academic quality. This pursuit of academic excellence is entwined within the Quaker and Earlham College concern for the common good. As a natural extension of the College s and faculty s vision of education, the Earlham M.A.T. seeks to address the needs and demands of public education by training effective educators. Further, this focus on the common good has been demonstrated through the College's previous programmatic additions to the Earlham curriculum as described in the initial application to the Indiana Professional Standards Board (IPSB) and as now reflected in the current addition of the M.A.T. The support for this program extends beyond the collective concern of the College and its faculty. It derives from the faculty's individual concern for promoting the common good, particularly through the K-12 schools. In preparing this teacher education program, the M.A.T. faculty were pleased but not surprised to recognize that many Earlham College faculty have taught as licensed teachers in the public schools, have served or are serving on schools boards, and have helped to create and sustain schools in significant ways. 2

3 Given that the Mission Statement includes learning "from each other in a cooperative community," one of the central features of the conceptual framework is the cohort model. The M.A.T. seeks to develop and reinforce candidates' understanding and practice of how to create and successfully participate in a community of learners and appreciate how a community of learners enhances learning. Rather than teaching and learning in isolation, candidates will have ample opportunities to construct a culture of collaboration, both in and outside the classroom. In the process, candidates will learn and value consensus decision-making, which reinforces collaboration. The cohort model enhances actively listening to others, thoughtfully reflecting, and rigorously applying collective insights to develop individual beliefs about teaching and learning. Clearly, active participation in a cohort will dramatically affect how M.A.T. candidates learn and, thus, how they will teach. The candidates will remain in the cohort program to continue collaboration and professional development during their first semester of teaching to provide for continued guidance and growth after licensure. This approach should also provide candidates with a model for how their own students can and should learn. More precisely, the M.A.T. candidate begins the program in summer, is awarded licensure the following May, and completes the final course requirement by December. From December to May of their first year of teaching, the cohort members and the faculty will remain on a list serve or web site to collectively support one another and to enrich their learning and teaching through shared reflection and analysis of the first year of teaching. This M.A.T. program will prepare a community of leaders to help shape a school s culture. To accomplish this vision, candidates must not only be able to understand their school, but also be able to understand and communicate their own "stance," by which Robert Fried means their attitude and abilities to communicate what they know about and expect from their students. In addition, the candidates have opportunities to learn, practice, and value the process of infusing Quaker beliefs and 3

4 practices such as the process of consensus-building, the affirmation of the worth of individuals, and the process of peaceful problem-solving in the foundation and formation of a school's culture. With the Mission Statement's declaration of "openness to new truth and therefore the willingness to search" and "the application of what is known to improving the world," a program goal is to lead candidates to new or different ways of finding the truth. The M.A.T. emphasizes the teacher as an informed reader of educational texts, well able to probe assumptions and values, to evaluate them, and to determine their applicability to public schools. The M.A.T. program will immerse candidates in a caring yet academically rigorous culture, rich in resources, which will support students to learn how actively to construct meaning as they interact with texts and people. The M.A.T. candidates will grow into competent professional educators able to use their M.A.T. experience as a foundation to be successful in virtually any school in which they find themselves. As part of refining their critical thinking skills, candidates will learn to use the Socratic Seminar method of instruction as a means to help K-12 students develop critical thinking and communication skills, to recognize how much they already know from their own experience, and to appreciate how they can collaborate. Socratic Seminars often allow the greatest joy in teaching while holding high expectations of K-12 students who will take responsibility for the seminar's success by sharing the leadership with the teacher. Seminars encourage habits of mind and thoughtful exploration of a text. Above all, K-12 students learn how careful inquiry can help them synthesize the views of classmates and connect texts to their own experiences. Openness to new truth also leads to valuing the teacher as researcher. M.A.T. candidates will be able to locate the most recent social science and educational research that is needed in order to become an informed and reflective teacher. The M.A.T. faculty wants candidates to undertake research connected to the "application of what is known to improving the world." Thus, a significant component of the program is course-related bibliographic instruction to complement the 4

5 candidates learning. This program partners librarians with candidates to develop their skills in finding and using information resources. The College has excellent experience and success in teaching undergraduates about accessing and using sophisticated electronic and print information services appropriate to class assignments. Librarians will teach M.A.T. candidates how to locate, effectively and efficiently, what is known about teaching and learning. An additional element of openness to truth and therefore the willingness to search encompasses more than what is found in libraries or computers. It includes the disposition to be open to new ideas, either received through reading, through discussions, or through evaluations. Thus, another central component of the program is encouraging candidates to think constantly about new ideas and approaches to their teaching encompassing both what we learn and how we learn. Within this framework, we also expect our M.A.T. candidates to function as models of thinking in their discipline and in learning in general. The Mission Statement's emphasis on "equality of persons" leads the M.A.T. Program to create teachers who understand, respect, and especially value and appreciate all kinds of diversity. As with the College's undergraduate program and students, the Earlham M.A.T. encourages and promotes the celebration of differences. The understanding of these differences is central to the understanding and acceptance of others. As Earlham President Douglas C. Bennett wrote in 1998, "Diversity is not a goal in addition to educational excellence. It is a goal at the very center of educational excellence. We learn from each other what it means to be human, and what the possibilities are. We will learn much less if we only learn from others who closely resemble us." The M.A.T. Program invites all candidates to become lifetime advocates for quality education that promotes the growth of all K-12 students. The M.A.T. faculty prepares candidates for as many types of diversity as possible through readings, speakers, visits, and placements. This emphasis on understanding diversity will help prepare candidates for the many types of classrooms, schools, and 5

6 K-12 student populations. This engagement with diversity also demands comprehension of the various ways in which one can discuss diversity and the difficulties inherent in such a discussion. Earlham's president has helped us to realize that "diversity is a very broad topic and conversations can quickly become diffuse or complex. By 'diversity' we often mean to address ethnicity, race, gender, class, and sexual orientation." But we can also mean "differences in religious beliefs, political persuasions, learning style, philosophy, academic ability, life interest, and more." The M.A.T. faculty also notes the differences between rural and urban K-12 students, which often extend to cultural differences not always considered in a discussion of diversity. Reflecting the Earlham Mission Statement's emphasis on respect for the consciences of others and lack of coercion, the M.A.T. addresses matters of diversity by instructing candidates in the techniques and theories of conflict management. It will guide candidates to understand models of leadership and how to use them. Within Quakerism and the College's vision, the M.A.T. will focus on servant-leadership and consensus building. As specified in the Mission Statement, "The teaching-learning process at Earlham is shaped by a view of education as a process of awakening the 'teacher within' so that our students become lifelong learners. The program expects that its graduates will be teachers who continue to develop challenging classrooms that awaken the teacher within in their own students and even in themselves. The ideal of awakening the teacher within is also reflected in Robert Fried, The Passionate Teacher: A Practical Guide (2001), in which he discusses stance (p. 139) defined as a a way of encountering students based on a set of core values about kids and their learning potential. Similarly, Parker Palmer, another leading Quaker in education, has proposed significant approaches to the modern problems of teaching in his The Courage to Teach: Exploring The Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life (1998). The M.A.T. faculty plans to feature both authors in this teacher education program. 6

7 The teacher within is a fundamental concept for this program. Palmer explains it best: outstanding teachers recognize that excellent teaching comes from their identity and integrity. He emphasizes that good teachers understand their calling to be teachers and discover life-giving ways of relating to the forces or identity that converge within each and every person. By choosing integrity or relating to one s identity, the person becomes more whole. In short, identity lies in the intersection of the diverse forces that make up my life, and integrity lies in relating to those forces in ways that bring me wholeness and life rather than fragmentation and death. In its simplest form, Parker means that good teaching comes from good people and the task of education is to address the living core of our lives. This task is especially important to teachers, Palmer asserts, because we can speak to the teacher within our students only when we are on speaking terms with the teacher within ourselves. All candidates must, then, discover the teacher within themselves in order to be able to awaken the teacher within their own K-12 students. No teaching will ever really succeed unless it connects with the inward, living core of... students lives, with... students inward teachers. Among other things, this view of teaching necessarily means that candidates must develop the ability and desire to assess student learning. Without that assessment, no teacher can know how well teaching and learning is succeeding. Awakening the teacher within means still more. Every candidate must grasp and appreciate the identity, including family background, community, and heritage, of every K-12 student. After all, as Parker observes, community is an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace, the flowing of personal identity and integrity into the world of relationships. Good teachers assess K- 12 students but go beyond this to an understanding of the wholeness of any student, the living core of their lives. With that knowledge, candidates can awaken the teacher within their own K-12 students. 7

8 The "application of the known to improving the world" leads the program to value candidates with a sound knowledge of their content field. Such candidates combine a strong knowledge base with strong critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Thus, the M.A.T. program builds on an undergraduate, liberal arts education that prepares graduates for professional training to become teachers. The "application of the known to improving the world" is exhibited in other ways. For instance, candidates will be introduced to technologies as tools for potential teachers. After all, the use of technology is often a means of learning the known and applying it to our world of teaching. Indeed, the M.A.T. faculty expects that candidates will learn about various technologies: as processes and techniques for learning, not ends in themselves that somehow magically, automatically help K-12 students learn, as integrated components rather than segregated elements of instruction and curriculum, as tools, not panaceas, for teaching and learning. Throughout the curriculum, the M.A.T. program will seek to infuse Quaker principles of respect for persons, integrity, peace and justice, simplicity, and consensus governance. Five courses in the M.A.T. are designated to reinforce these principles, and candidates will address their growth in these areas in their final portfolio This conceptual framework guides this experimental and experiential M.A.T. Program. To ensure the framework s implementation, the M.A.T. uses authentic, standards-based, and performance-based assessments to evaluate the extent to which the educational goals have been met and where improvement is needed. The proposed means of evaluation emphasizes multiple measures of assessment, including both formative and summative measures of assessment. In conclusion, the M.A.T. Program desires candidates who will embrace this valuable calling of teaching and who will, with the strength of their academic preparation, be able to create challenging classrooms that awaken the teacher within in their own students. 8

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