“How can I most effectively navigate being myself as a teacher of a diverse group of students, their families, communities and our colleagues in ways that support development, social justice & democracy?” This is a question you will collectively explore throughout your time in the program. We begin the investigation by attending to students and their communities, examining how people learn, and by beginning to consider ideas on the purposes of education.
All students have valuable life experiences, knowledge and interests to which you can connect your instruction. But how do you learn about their backgrounds if you are not from the same community as your students? This quarter, you will develop your ability to know your students and their communities. You will learn about students’ strengths while developing your cultural competence. You will also hone your ability to know how students make sense of their worlds, how they approach problem solving, and what they are learning. We start here with assessment – rather than with instructional strategies – because we want you to always focus your attention on student learning as the central goal of teaching.
With that in mind you, will explore how people learn from several perspectives, including: neurophysiological, behaviorist, constructivist and social constructivist perspectives. You will use this information about learning to investigate questions such as: How does knowledge, skill and the capacity for thinking develop? What roles and activities do learners, peers, and teachers play in that development? Is there such a thing as inborn ability or is it something that develops with effort? If it does develop through effort, then what kind of effort? How do expectations influence teachers and students approaches to learning? You will then begin to use this understanding of learning to inform how you structure, critique and adapt learning opportunities for the students in front of you.
Finally, how do teachers decide on the goals of their lessons and units? You will begin this exploration through a close examination of the kinds of knowledge and skills that Washington State believes are essential components of a basic education. You will read the Washington State K-12 Learning Standards to find out what it is that students should know and be able to do in the disciplines related to your endorsement areas. You will examine how these standards relate to knowledge, skills and reasoning in everyday, civic and/or professional adult worlds. We will use this current state framed set of goals for education to begin a historical look into the purposes of schooling.
Assignments will entail a range of activities including reading, interviews, collaboration, classroom observations and practice with students. They are specifically designed to help you to explore, reflect on, inform and ultimately demonstrate your understandings and skills. Throughout the quarter you will be expected to use opportunities to self-assess, set goals for and use opportunities to refine your understanding – in other words to engage in the practice of critical reflection and professional development.