Elon's Teacher Education Program Unit has as its primary mission the development of outstanding teachers. The unit prides itself in student-oriented, evidence-based philosophy of teaching, early and continuous field experiences, and nationally accredited programs. The unit advances the university's academic mission through cultivation of directed inquiry; promotion of knowledge of learners and content; and practical engagement in local and global contexts. The Teacher Education mission is deepened through fostering of intellectual reflection, assessing the ability to use knowledge, and creating opportunities to lead change.
The vision of the unit is a projection of its mission and a reflection of The Elon Commitment. The unit envisions its teacher candidates as exceptional educators equipped with enduring understandings and skills, such as inquiry, collaboration, flexibility, and cultural responsiveness, which enhance adaptability and effectiveness in the constant flux of the 21st century era. The unit also foresees its graduates as globally aware citizens who advocate for equity and excellence and demonstrate a preparedness to teach ALL students.
Effective teachers are knowledgeable. They know learning theory, disciplinary content, and relevant pedagogy. They are cognizant of the developmental characteristics and diverse learning needs of students and of varying family and community cultures. Included in their knowledge base are an awareness of and an ability to choose instructional strategies, resources (including technology), and assessment procedures that promote the learning of a variety of students. They create positive learning environments that embrace diversity, act on the belief that all students can learn, and are dedicated to their own development as teacher and learners.
Effective teachers inquire. They value and use questioning intentionally to stimulate inquiry and to motivate learning. They use a variety of resources to acquire and critically analyze information to inform instructional decisions. Effective teacher take the initiative to learn about their students and the families and communities in which they live. They use assessment of student learning to reflect upon their classroom practice. They are enthusiastic learners who engage in purposeful inquiry within professional communities. They continually reflect upon personal beliefs and the effectiveness of instructional practices to enhance the learning of all students.
Effective teachers reflect. They self-analyze in a purposeful and critical manner to gain understanding of the root cause and meaning of circumstances. They become aware of the complexity of learning, learners, and their role in student learning using an inquiry-based, meaning-oriented process. They gain a deeper understanding of teaching because of the meta cognitive characteristic of intellectual reflection, and consequently, they continually mature professionally. They are able to engage in thoughtful, meaningful practice to encourage learning of all students.
Effective teachers take action. They act on what they know and are able to do as teachers. They seek information and act ethically for equity and excellence in their classroom practice. They prepare to lead in professional learning communities, on issues of equity, technology, and in matters of global citizenry. They respond appropriately to the constant flux of emergent 21st century skills and expectations. They act to provide all students the opportunities to learn.
Effective teachers lead. They lead by demonstrating ethical principles and acting professionally. They advocate for and participate in initiatives and practices which affect positive change in student learning. They lead by contributing to the establishment of a positive classroom and school environment. They ensure that instructional decisions they make are adequately informed by data, standards, and a variety of students' assessments. They communicate their vision for student learning to students, contributing to student empowerment. Most importantly, they lead by taking responsibility for student learning and contributing to the improvement of their schools.
Effective teachers are professional. They view themselves as integral to a professional community that shares and builds knowledge about student learning and quality practice. They remain current and informed through collaboration with colleagues and participation in professional organizations. They hold high expectations for academic and social growth of all students and establish positive learning environments to support that growth. To build a community of practice, they interact with colleagues, students, families, and others in the community in an ethical and respectful manner. Effective teachers are enthusiastic about the challenges and opportunities within the profession, and they demonstrate respect and support for their colleagues.
Embedded throughout the quality teacher education program described in the conceptual framework are dispositions that describe the values and commitments that we seek to develop in all teacher candidates. Effective teachers are committed to the following:
Candidates with these commitments have a propensity to act in ways that further the learning of all students. They are professionals who can meet the daunting challenges facing educators in the new century.