Program outcomes include content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, professional and pedagogical
knowledge and skills, dispositions, and the ability to engage in professional practice that will result in positive effects for all learners.
Woven throughout the academic courses and field experiences in the professional programs here at Stetson University are four strands - Reflective Practitioner, Collaborative Instructional Leader, Responder to Diversity, and Facilitative Change Agent - which were established to create a sense of unity across all programs at both the initial and advanced levels.These strands reflect the values articulated by the faculty and the outcomes for candidates as they prepare for the teaching profession.
The consensus among the unit faculty is that our intention is to create reflective practitioners. This perspective is consistent with a view that students should become active learners capable of reflecting upon their experience and philosophy-- which places responsibility for learning with the individual. It views learning as an active interaction between teacher and learner. Historically, this view can be linked to the work of John Dewey. In contemporary views, it is connected with constructivist philosophic perspectives and cognitive psychology. This view describes intelligence as thought in action and that to reflect on one's experience is a method, which allows for growth. As Dewey (1938) expressed, growth occurs through "reconstruction of experience." In general the approach that unit members advocate is consistent with Dewey's problem-solving model: analyzing the difficulty, suggesting alternatives, choosing among the various alternatives, and implementing and evaluating the results.
We believe that learning is an active and collaborative process. Teachers must view knowledge as constructed by learners rather than transmitted by teachers. Students should be involved in a classroom community where they will learn to ask questions, share, debate, construct, modify, and develop ideas and ways to solve problems (Johnson & Johnson, 1991; Slavin, 2001).
We believe that teachers are decision-makers. They need to ask hard questions about conventional practice (Reagan, 1993; Goodlad, 1984; Kruse, 1997; Leahy & Corcoran, 1996). Continuous reflection on one's set of beliefs and assumptions about teaching and learning make the process of becoming a teacher a conscious effort at developing a "conscience of craft" (Bush, 1987; Green, 1985). We agree with Reagan's (1993) work relating to reflection-in-action, reflection-on-action, and reflection-for-action. His view offers ways to consider proactive approaches to teaching-particularly the concept of reflection-for-action. Reflection-for-action describes an approach, which prepares one to anticipate what to do in the classroom (based on reflection of past action) while planning for subsequent action. Finally, reflective practice can be enhanced through use of reflective journals, action research and emphasis on teaching as decision-making. The ultimate goal of reflective practice is continuous improvement.
Collaborative Instructional Leaders
As a unit, we believe a leader is an individual who can influence people within an organization towards continuous improvement and change. There is no one best way to influence people. Leaders, however, must lead according to the readiness level of the people in the organization that they are attempting to influence (Zigarmi, Blanchard, O'Connor, & Edebum, 2000). We believe one must have the ability to analyze a situation, determine the appropriate leadership style
the situation warrants, and take action. We believe people have the potential to grow, and given an opportunity, can and will respond. Part of this equation, however, is that leaders must first have high expectations of themselves. As educators, we know the impact of teacher expectations on student behavior and achievement (Livingston, 1998). Schools today need a collaborative effort between principals and teachers (Sparks, 1999). According to Barth (2001), teachers who become leaders experience personal and professional satisfaction, a reduction in isolation, a sense of instrumentality, and a new learning about schools and the process of change all of which are reflected in curriculum development and instructional practice. We believe that schools that have strong, effective principals and empowered teacher-leaders tend to be high-performing learning organizations (Blasé and Blasé), 2001; DuFour, 1999).
Responsive to Diversity
Unit members recognize the importance of diversity within the educational setting. We believe that educators must move beyond tolerance to acceptance, and they must accomplish this through demonstrating competence (Banks & Banks, 1989; Bennett, 1999). Diversity issues include an understanding of age (developmental readiness, human growth and development); gender; prejudice reduction, socioeconomic status; academic ability (exceptional student education, gifted); language (English as a second language); race and ethnicity and culture; and how each of these concepts presents a multitude of challenges
for the classroom teacher. The challenges that face educators are not limited to how they teach students of diversity; they must also teach about diversity so that students will ultimately be able to interact and thrive in a diverse world. Such complex issues require delicate handling as well as substantial preparation (Florida Department of Education, 2000). We agree that teacher education must include national and international educational foci. This includes cultural universals, those things all humans have in common, as well as individual differences.
Our unit recognizes the serious implications of the following statistics to meeting the learning needs of diverse students. Florida schools are growing in diversity. About one-half are considered racial/ethnic groups; about one-fourth of Florida students are labeled ESE; over 200 languages are reported as being the native language in the home; more than 50% of Florida's elementary students receive free or reduced lunch (Florida Department of Education, 2001). Educators must develop a repertoire of skills and knowledge that compliment education reform as teachers respond to issues of diversity. A holistic view of development from novice to advanced practitioner is necessary. Competency-based approaches in which educators' knowledge, skills, and experiences are considered assets help educators understand the diverse K-12 populations. Societal issues (e.g., crime, drug and alcohol abuse, poverty, homelessness, etc.) require greater collaboration between educators, families, and social service providers (Dilworth & Imig, 1995). Reflective and analytical learning must be emphasized.
Facilitative Change Agents
We believe that educators need to be competent in both content and pedagogy and be able to challenge learners' thinking. It has become increasingly necessary for the educator to be able to extend the classroom into the community and become a change agent for educational reform. Fullan (1993) links moral purpose and change agents. Moral purpose is defined as making a difference or bringing about improvements. "Moral purpose keeps teachers close to the needs of children and youth; change agentry causes them to develop better strategies for accomplishing their moral goals" (Fullan,1993).
Educators must be prepared with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to effectively participate in educational change and reform. Fullan (1993) outlines four core capacities necessary for one to become a skillful change agent. These are: personal vision building, inquiry, mastery, and collaboration.
Personal vision building entails not only the examination of one's purpose for wanting to be an educator and the ability to articulate a platform for future action. We believe educators must move beyond what is common place and "take a stand for a preferred future" (Bloc, 1987, p. 102).
Closely related to and necessary for the construction of a personal vision is the disposition of inquiry. Skillful inquiry is directed at examining information and ideas in the external environment and requires that internalization of norms and habits which support continuous learning. As change agents, we believe educators must be continuous learners in order to respond in a proactive manner to an increasingly complex and changing world.
Mastery is necessary for developing an effective change agent. Pedagogical content knowledge is essential for effectiveness in our profession and must be addressed. We believe mastery moves beyond the skillful practice of pedagogy in relation to subject matter. This requires educators to nurture a disposition of personal expertise in order to achieve a deeper understanding of existing conditions, proposed innovations, and potential futures.
Collaboration is also needed to foster one's capacity as a change agent. Through collaboration, educators extend exponentially the power of their personal mastery through the cultivation of group mastery.