The University of Maine at Fort Kent’s teacher education programs are built around the Holistic Pre-service Experience Model (HPEM) illustrated in Figure 1.1.
|The Pre-service Teacher
Pedagogy, Reflection, Effectiveness
At the beginning of each semester, our pre-service students are assigned a host teacher in a public school, which has been arranged through our Director of Student Teaching and Early Practicums. The placement schedule for the student is based around a consistent day of the week, so that host teachers can count on and utilize the student volunteer more effectively in their class. To further advance the student effectiveness and usefulness in the classroom and to ensure each student has been fingerprinted, we also require all students entering the education major to seek and obtain an Ed Tech I certification. As they progress in the program we encourage them to obtain the Ed Tech II certification to increase their legal abilities to work with students.
The UMFK field-based program is designed for pre-service teachers to work with and receive input from four different stakeholders who will influence their thinking and knowledge of educational pedagogy and classroom management as they prepare for student teaching. As described above, the students spend one day per week in a classroom with a host teacher and his/her students. To accompany this experience, the division created 9 laboratory based courses for Elementary students and 7 laboratory based courses for Secondary students to augment the regular core classes of the Elementary Education majors/Secondary Education core.
The lab classes are taught by teachers or administrators who are currently working in the public schools and involve a more hands-on curriculum introducing students to current practices in Maine’s classrooms. The clinical labs allow the candidates to reflect through a different lens than that of their education faculty or host teacher.
The UMFK Education Program will create an environment for optimal learning that emphasizes knowledge, values, and experiences by integrating these with teaching, learning, and service within our academic discipline while maintaining our program’s ethical and unique practices.
The academic mission of the Division of Education is to prepare students as undergraduate teachers who are prepared to be reflective scholars, instructional leaders, and global citizens. Reflective scholars pursue knowledge with an open-minded and whole-hearted attitude. The process for becoming reflective is the basis of the entire program, because persons who teach from this perspective actively analyze their teaching practices and the educational, social, and political contexts in which their teaching is embedded. The teacher as instructional leader responds to the question; “reflective about what and to what purpose?” Teachers as global citizens, responds to the current social, economic and political realities. The growing global interdependence must clearly be faced if prospective teachers are to be equipped with the necessary tools for teaching. One of the Division’s goals is to empower new teachers with the tools necessary to respond to the future demands of education. By preparing you to become a “reflective scholar, instructional leader, and global educator,” the Division prepares you to serve a key role in a profession that is progressive and improving. You will be qualified to educate tomorrow’s adults to reach their full individual potential and prepare them not only for a life of work, but for a life of worth.
Conceptual Framework: Reflective, Experienced and Teacher Ready
The education division at the University of Maine at Fort Kent (UMFK) is responsible for the development and approval of the course work and experiences that makes up the core curriculum of our educational programs. It is our belief, as outlined in our mission statement, that there are many qualities that are part of being an effective teacher. The focus on reflective practice, social awareness, leadership and citizenry are essential parts of our overall mission and are focused on the core belief that educators need to be lifelong learners who understand and participate in the ever-changing world of education.
Our pre-service teachers learn to plan, teach and assess students in a standards based classroom (Learning Results and/or Common Core) based classroom and are engaged in educational experiences that are based on a holistic curricular model which blends their core methods courses, with clinical lab classes, 250 hours of pre-student teaching practicum and which cumulates with a sixteen-week experience in student teaching. Students are expected to model the key dispositions needed for an effective and reflective teacher and strives to ensure that our graduates are “classroom ready” for their first job. Each student is required to demonstrate proficiencies in their mastery of essential knowledge, the application of educational pedagogies and in modeling critical teacher dispositions.
By blending content, methodology and assessment, while at the same time focusing on the creation of products to demonstrate their abilities, the program guides students to take ownership of the educational processes and skills they need to be effective and reflective teachers. The program is designed to help students transition from the study of content and theory to the art of practice and application. The education programs stress that effective teachers understand learner development, and support the needs of individual learners and differentiate instruction for issues such as diversity and exceptionality. The program offers students multiple opportunities to study and explore the practice of classroom management based on the work of C.M. Charles (2014) and stresses the need for an engaging classroom environment. Candidate success in meeting these program outcomes is measured through key assignments in courses and lab classes, assessments in clinical field experiences and through the professional portfolio which is required as a capstone assignment in all education programs.
The basis for this framework is founded in progressivism, particularly constructivism, as described by Bohlin, (2014) and illustrated in the works of Dewey, Piaget and Vygotsky. Our program is further grounded in the foundational work on standards-based pedagogy and assessment practices as outlined by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe (1999) in Understanding by Design and Marzano and Pickering (1992) in Dimensions of Learning. Along with this foundational grounding the program relies on Wiggins and McTighe’s (2012) current work in unpacking and effectively using learning outcomes and standards in public classrooms.
Carol Ann Tomlinson (2005) in The Differentiated Classroom outlines how this foundational approach would work in classroom instruction. Tomlinson identifies three core components a learning experience should include to increase the effectiveness of a planned lesson. Teachers need to plan experiences which allow students to gain essential content, to develop associated skills/processes and they should provide students the opportunities to create products (written, oral or visual) to demonstrate standards-based competency. She further explains that teachers need to be well versed in instructional technique, assessment tools and multiple approaches to instruction. UMFK’s programs focus on the pre-service teacher understanding and planning curriculum for a diverse group of students.
Maine’s Common Core Teaching Standards serves as the core fiber in our alignment of programs with the conceptual framework. The standards illustrate the skills, abilities, and dispositions that pre-service teachers should have when they first enter the profession. Our program is dedicated to ensuing our candidates are proficient in each area of the common core teaching standards, including effective planning, working with diverse students, being effective classrooms managers, practicing innovative teaching pedagogies, utilizing effectively formative and summative assessments, and embracing the technology needs of their learners.
Overall, the framework stresses that teachers must be reflective practitioners who understand the multiple ways in which teachers adapt curriculum, methods, and behaviors to improve instruction for a diverse group of learners. Equally important to the pedagogical issues of planning and instruction, educators must have solid working knowledge of the subjects they teach and possess the ability to unpack and use educational standards based on content disciplines. Effective teachers create learning experiences where their students can learn the essential content and develop the ability to take that content to create meaningful products.
Student Learning Proficiencies
The 11 program proficiencies are essential to the integration of our conceptual framework into our programs. The proficiencies illustrate the skills, knowledge base and dispositions that pre-service teachers should have when they enter the profession.
- Proficiency Standard #1: Learner Development
The teacher understands how students learn and develop, recognizing that patterns of learning and development vary individually within and across the cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and physical areas, and designs and implements developmentally appropriate and challenging learning experiences.
- Proficiency Standard # 2: Learner Differences
The teacher uses understanding of individual differences and diverse cultures and communities to ensure inclusive learning environments that allow each learner to reach his/her full potential.
- Proficiency Standard # 3: Learning Environments
The teacher works with learners to create environments that support individual and collaborative learning, encouraging positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self-motivation.
- Proficiency Standard #4: Content Knowledge
The teacher understands the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline(s) he or she teaches and creates learning experiences that make these aspects of the discipline accessible and meaningful for learners.
- Proficiency Standard #5: Innovative Applications of Content
The teacher understands how to connect concepts and use differing perspectives to engage learners in critical/creative thinking and collaborative problem solving related to authentic local and global issues.
- Proficiency Standard #6: Assessment
The teacher understands and uses multiple methods of assessment to engage learners in their own growth, to document learner progress, and to guide the teacher’s on-going planning and instruction.
- Proficiency Standard # 7: Planning for Instruction
The teacher draws upon knowledge of content areas, cross-disciplinary skills, learners, the community, and pedagogy to plan instruction that supports every student in meeting rigorous learning goals.
- Proficiency Standard #8: Instructional Strategies
The teacher understands and uses a variety of instructional strategies to encourage learners to develop deep understanding of content areas and their connections, and to build skills to access and appropriately apply information.
- Proficiency Standard # 9: Reflection and Continuous Growth
The teacher is a reflective practitioner who uses evidence to continually evaluate his/her practice, particularly the effects of his/her choices and actions on others (students, families, and other professionals in the learning community), and adapts practice to meet the needs of each learner.
- Proficiency Standard # 10: Collaboration
The teacher seeks appropriate leadership roles and opportunities to take responsibility for student learning, to collaborate with learners, families, colleagues, other school professionals, and community members to ensure learner growth, and to advance the profession.
- Proficiency Standard # 11: Technology Standards for Teachers - (NETS.T)
Effective teachers model and apply the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS•S) as they design, implement, and assess learning experiences to engage students and improve learning; enrich professional practice; and provide positive models for students, colleagues, and the community. All teachers will meet the following standards and performance indicators.
Techniques of Assessment
Methods to assess the student in the classroom includes rubrics, portfolios, written exams, papers, presentations, role playing, demonstrations, poster sessions and other assessments as determined by the individual faculty. The successful completion of Core Academic Skills for Educators Praxis exams and Praxis II exams are required for all education students. Once students have completed their programs, they are required to complete a graduation survey followed by an alumni survey three to four years into their teaching career. Both of these surveys serve as assessment tools for the division to determine the strengths and weaknesses of our program.
Education students are required to complete a professional portfolio based on the Maine’s Common Core Teaching Standards as listed above. The eleven proficiencies are part of the division’s overall mission and the basis for our conceptual framework. As students progress through their program courses, processes for building and maintaining students’ portfolios are discussed, which help students identify and select works that build and demonstrate achievement of program proficiencies. Students will work with campus faculty and with mentor teachers during student teaching to finalize their portfolios.
The Division of Education expects students at all times to respect the opinions, knowledge, abilities and feelings of others when dealing with peers, faculty, teachers, and students while at the University and in the public schools.
An alert form is used by practicing professionals connected with the teacher education program to identify a student in the program whose professional performance or approach is weak. This form is used only when there is a strong concern about the student’s ability to become a teacher. The intent of the alert form is to add an important source of professional judgment to the teacher education process.
Education Programs Professional Expectations
The Education Programs at the University of Maine at Fort Kent are designed to prepare individuals for the professional field of education. These programs are accredited and are closely linked to the liberal arts areas that individuals will encounter in the public school domain. As students in these programs, you also are members of a larger community of learners. Membership in an academic community has a special obligation to all members of that community to maintain, to preserve, and to guarantee an atmosphere conducive to the freedoms to teach and to learn. Part of this obligation implies the responsibility of each member of the classroom community to maintain a positive learning environment in which the conduct of any individual does not disrupt the momentum to any class, meeting or work session.
Within academic settings, appropriate, mature, professional conduct and attitude are expected. These affect the experiences within these settings. Also, one’s appearance affects these settings. While individuals possess the freedom of self-expression, through attire and/or body art, etc., appearance should represent professional intentions. The field of education, by its very nature, presupposes such expectations and intentions.
Professional Attitude and Conduct - mandatory
- assumes personal responsibility for all academic obligations
- meets all deadlines
- produces quality work/artifacts
- responds cooperatively to constructive criticism
- assumes personal responsibility for actions and interactions with peers, with professors/instructors, and with campus
- support staff and personnel
- is cooperative and respectful of self and others
- is assertive but not aggressive or hostile
- is dependable and resourceful
- is on time for all classes, meetings, work sessions, etc.
- assumes personal responsibility when tardy or absent
- Students are required to pass Core Academic Skills for Educators Praxis exams and Praxis II Content Area before being scheduled to Student Teach.
- Students are encouraged to take and pass Core Academic Skills for Educators Praxis exams by the end of their Sophomore year. Students are encouraged to take and pass the Praxis II Content Area exam by their junior year. Content area exams for a Department of Education Endorsement include: Elementary Education, Secondary: Business (7-12), English/Language Arts, (7-12), French, (7-12), Life Science, (7-12), Social Studies, (7-12), Math (7-12), and Computer Technology, (k-12).
- The praxis exam for Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) is not required if you come through one of the UMFK’s accredited education program.