Bloomington's Vision for Teacher Education
New Directions for Teacher Education in Bloomington
Indiana University has been involved in preparing students to become teachers since 1851, although the School of Education itself was not founded until 1908. Much has changed since the time of those initial efforts. The campus as a whole has expanded and become world-renowned for its research status. At the same time, the School of Education itself has developed a national and international reputation for both its undergraduate and graduate offerings.
We now find ourselves facing unique challenges in the 21st century. Our technological age requires citizens who can apply knowledge, reason analytically, and solve problems. American society is increasingly diverse, so school classrooms serve students who come from many backgrounds and cultures, and who bring with them a wide range of abilities and interests. The educational community at large is engaged, along with policymakers and the general public, in a national debate about high standards for what all students should know and be able to do. The need for teachers who can help all students meet society’s high performance expectations has created new challenges for teacher preparation.
In 2000, the IU Bloomington faculty approved a set of five goals to serve as guides for all efforts in the School of Education. The goals include (1) to continue IU’s commitment to strong pre-service teacher education, (2) to strengthen the School of Education’s partnerships with P-12 schools and communities, (3) to enhance the school’s research and graduate education programs, (4) to provide leadership in the appropriate use of technologies to enhance teaching and learning experiences, and (5) to promote diversity. These goals are interdependent. Together, they reflect the direction that the School of Education will take as it moves forward in the coming years.
One effort that has been constant throughout our history is a commitment to creating and sustaining high-quality, rigorous, engaging courses and programs for candidates aspiring to be teachers at all P-12 levels. A commitment to high-quality programs in turn requires that faculty and candidates in the School of Education, with our colleagues from other units of Indiana University and from the public schools, engage in conversations that lead to novel initiatives, alternative directions, and new ways of thinking about teacher education. We must work collaboratively to help our teacher candidates attain the content, pedagogical, and professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for teaching in contemporary schools.
Our collective commitment at IU Bloomington to the development of exemplary teacher education programs has been abundantly clear throughout the past decade. This bulletin provides an outline of our most recent efforts to offer contemporary, responsive, and effective teacher education programs, courses, and policies. Central to our deliberations about the direction of teacher education has been the adoption and enactment in all our teacher education programs of a set of six principles that define, in comprehensive ways, our conceptual framework for teacher education. The six principles are listed below. Accompanying each is an elaboration composed of three parts: a statement about why the principle is important, a statement about implications of the principle for our teacher education programs, and a statement about what the principle implies for teacher candidate expectations.
IU Bloomington’s Six Principles for Teacher Education
- Knowledge and Multiple Forms of Understanding: Effective teachers possess a well-grounded knowledge of the content areas that are central to their teaching. They also have an in-depth comprehension of the forms of knowledge embodied in the traditional disciplines, of the interdisciplinary nature of inquiry, and of the multiple forms of understanding that individual students bring to the classroom. Thus, all our teacher education programs help teacher candidates acquire practical wisdom that integrates forms of understanding, skilled action in and outside classrooms, and a particular sensitivity to the diversity of students. Teacher candidates are expected to be well grounded in student development, the content areas that are central to their teaching, and assessment strategies.
- Learning Environment: Teachers are expected to be thoughtful, reflective, caring practitioners in actual educational settings. Teacher education programs must maintain or create experiences in schools and on campus so that instructors can assist candidates in developing and assessing this professional expertise. Thus, all our teacher education programs include early and continuous engagement—through direct immersion or simulation—with the multiple realities of children, teaching, and schools. Teacher candidates are expected to create and nurture a positive physical, social, and academic learning environment.
- Personalized Learning: Good teachers build on their students’ interests, orientation to learning, and hopes. Similarly, teacher education programs should offer teacher candidates opportunities to individualize and personalize their preparation as teachers. Thus, all our teacher education programs give teacher candidates a significant measure of control over how, when, and where their learning takes place, thus enabling their interests and values to shape major portions of their work. Teacher candidates are expected to understand students’ ability levels, interests, and learning styles. They should demonstrate instruction that reflects the diversity among all learners.
- Community: Effective teacher preparation requires that participants develop a sense of community through engagement in shared activities and issues. The longevity of relationships required to establish community has several advantages for all its members. It brings coherence to programs, fosters an appreciation of the power of cooperative effort, and encourages a dialogue that promotes the continual rejuvenation of teacher education. Thus, all our teacher education programs foster a sense of community among their teacher candidates, among faculty members, among faculty members and candidates, and among the university and the schools. Teacher candidates are expected to understand and to be involved in their academic learning community. They should build and develop relationships within the school, corporation, and community.
- Critical Reflection: Effective teachers reflect critically on the moral, political, social, and economic dimensions of education. This requires an understanding of the multiple contexts in which schools function, an appreciation of diverse perspectives on educational issues, and a commitment to democratic forms of interaction. Thus, all our teacher education programs encourage students to develop their own social and educational visions that are connected to critically reflective practice. Teacher candidates are expected to reflect continuously on all aspects of their teaching experience to identify ways for improvement as individuals, as a part of the school community, and as part of the teaching profession.
- Intellectual, Personal, and Professional Growth: Teachers are more than technicians or purveyors of information. Accordingly, they must be committed to lifelong intellectual, personal, and professional growth. Because both faculty and teacher candidates must continually develop these habits of mind, teacher education programs must stimulate the exploration and development of the full range of human capabilities. Thus, all our teacher education programs foster intellectual curiosity and encourage an appreciation of learning through the sustained analysis of ideas, values, and practices; and through intuition, imagination, and aesthetic experience. Teacher candidates are expected to develop a philosophy of teaching and learning. This philosophy and continuous professional growth should include values, commitments, and professional development.
As part of a premiere research institution, the IU Bloomington teacher education community is committed to seeing inquiry practices and an inquiry orientation as foundational to all our teacher education programs. This commitment means that undergraduate instructors rarely tell teacher candidates what it means to be an effective teacher, but instead provide guidance along with intellectual and practical entry points into the range of literature, scholarly debates, and experiences that help define contemporary education. Candidates, as a result of this inquiry orientation, will develop the understanding necessary to become effective teachers. In other words, "inquiry" and "practice," "research" and "teaching," "thinking" and "doing" are expected to be integrated concepts and activities, rather than oppositional ones.
Accountability and improvement in teacher preparation are central to IU Bloomington’s mission. Graduates of all our teacher education programs are expected to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions expected of beginning teachers as set forth by the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) and as adopted by the Indiana Professional Standards Board (IPSB) in its new licensing regulations, known as Rules 2000. Through these standards that focus on systematic assessment and performance-based learning, our teacher education programs commit to engaging in continuous reevaluation and improvement.
As we begin this new millennium, our individual and collective efforts in the School of Education at IU Bloomington continue to be focused on developing the very best possible experiences for teacher candidates, and ultimately on improving the quality of education for P-12 pupils. We eagerly begin this new phase of Indiana University’s 150-year institutional commitment: to offer exemplary educational opportunities for prospective teachers and to enhance the quality of educational experiences in classrooms throughout Indiana, the nation, and the world.