4a. Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of Curriculum and Experiences
1. What proficiencies related to diversity are candidates expected to develop and demonstrate?
“Millikin University is committed to creating a campus culture that respects and values diversity. At Millikin, diversity is seen in broad terms, including race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, disability, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and age. Through the recruitment of diverse students, staff, faculty, and administrators and by creating an environment that values diversity, Millikin seeks to provide an engaged learning community in which diversity enhances the total educational experience.” (08-09 bulletin, p.1)
This commitment is evident in our university’s overall mission to prepare students for democratic citizenship in a diverse and dynamic global environment. In creating Millikin University, James Millikin asserted that the school should seek to provide education “on a broad plane in which all will be treated alike, regardless of sect or creed,” (p.12) The educational values that James Millikin espoused are wholeheartedly embraced by Millikin’s Teacher Education Unit and reflected in Millikin’s eleven approved programs.
As the education unit developed its conceptual framework, it has used language reminiscent of James Millikin’s goals. The unit believes that “excellence requires valuing diversity and establishing learning environments that are fair and equitable for all students” (Spring 2000, CTEP) and “learning requires meaningful application in the real work and active, engaged, hands-on experiences in real contexts” (December, 2001, Community Advisory Committee) and “teaching requires an inclusion that values and learns from diversity” (December, 2001, Community Advisory Committee)
The unit curriculum provides multiple opportunities for teacher candidates to learn, practice, and demonstrate knowledge about diverse children, families, and communities and to use this knowledge effectively to help all students learn and develop. The diversity related Millikin Teaching Standard, which candidates must develop and demonstrate within their courses and internships, is Standard 3: “the teacher-learner understands how individuals differ in their approaches to learning and creates learning environments that value and appreciate human diversity, show respect for students’ varied talents and perspectives and that are fair and equitable to all students.”
One of the academic purposes of the School of Education is to recruit and prepare teacher candidates with diverse social, ethnic, geographical, gender, linguistic, socio-economic, and age backgrounds. Implementation of diversity and cultural awareness in all areas of teacher licensure training continues to be a mission of the Unit. The entire School of Education engages in ongoing discussion of how to further this mission in order to enhance the learning experience of all students. The Unit expects graduates to be effective, sensitive teachers who can work with any child and his/her family without regard to race, creed, religion, national origin, sexual preference, disabling condition, or capabilities. Teacher candidates must demonstrate their understanding of diversity through the Millikin Teaching Standard number 3. This diversity standard was adapted from the Illinois Professional Teaching Standards, the parallel national frameworks in the Interstate New Teacher Assessment & Support Consortium (INTASC) diversity standards, and the various SPA standards.
2. What required coursework and experiences enable teacher candidates and candidates for other professional school roles to adapt instruction to different learning styles, connect instruction or services to students’ experiences and cultures, communicate with students and families in culturally sensitive ways, incorporate multiple perspectives into teaching, develop a classroom and school climate that values diversity, demonstrate behaviors consistent with the ideas of fairness and the belief that all students can learn?
As a Unit that is well aware of the changing demographics of our society, the School of Education addresses diversity issues throughout its teacher preparation programs. Teacher Candidates are first required to respond to the needs of a variety of students in their sophomore and junior block field experiences. Teacher candidates are placed within the Decatur Public School District 61 (DPS-61), a high-needs district that include culturally and ethnically diverse students, varying socio-economic, linguistically diverse students as well as students with varying exceptionalities. Teacher candidates plan and teach lessons that meet the needs of a diverse population. Professors from the School of Education are present throughout the buildings during their field experiences so that written observations and pre and post conferences may be conducted.
In ED 335, Child, Family and School Relationships, teacher candidates organize and facilitate a “Family Science Night” at the Early Learning Center (0-5) within the DPS-61 district. This event provides an opportunity for teacher candidates to work with parents and other caregivers within a diverse community population. Teacher candidates demonstrate their knowledge of how to plan a culturally relevant ‘everyday science’ activity for preschoolers and their parents. These activities encourage parent to child communication, problem-solving and emotional bonding.
Student teaching also provides an opportunity for all teacher candidates to engage in interactions with diverse families. Teacher candidates may be responsible for writing weekly newsletters explaining learning units, student achievements and upcoming events. Teacher candidates may also communicate with parents through weekly phone calls and monthly one-on-one conferences regarding the progress of children.
Teacher candidates use a standard lesson plan format that requires ‘response to intervention’ (RtI) strategies included in to the teaching processes. Providing effective instruction for tier 1, 2 and 3 students within the school day assures that our teacher candidates value diversity and believe that all students can learn. Assessments of cognitive learning objectives as well as behavioral and emotional learning objectives also demonstrate that diverse student populations learn differently.
3. What key assessments provide evidence about candidates' proficiencies related to diversity? How are candidates performing on these assessments?
Diversity in field placements is a strong point of the program and unit. Teacher candidates work with an extremely wide variety of student populations in their required, multiple field placements. Candidates encounter diversities including low SES populations, ethnicities, and other exceptionalities such as autistic students, gifted learners, and other mild/moderate to severely challenged students.
Examinations of the Teacher Candidate Assessments and field experience evaluations show the unit that teacher candidates are able to respond to the needs of students with exceptionalities. For example, Candidate Assessment 8: The Behavioral Intervention Plan, which all teacher candidates complete in ED 220 Survey of Exceptional Children, shows how teacher candidates learn to identify and chart a child’s behavior. Teacher candidates then create a plan to help modify a student’s behavior and facilitate a more productive learning environment for him/her. The knowledge and skills demonstrated in this candidate assessment are applied again during the student teaching semester when teacher candidates are required to lead classroom instruction and implement a classroom management plan that meets the needs of a variety of learners.
Another data set examined by the unit is the results of Candidate Assessment 10: The Teacher Work Sample. The Teacher Work Sample is a project completed during the final two semesters of the teacher candidate’s preparation. The project is an instructional unit designed specifically for the population of a teacher candidate’s clinical practice site. Teacher candidates connect teaching and learning by pre-assessing their students, teaching a series of lessons related to that chosen topic and then post-assessing the students’ learning and the effectiveness of their teaching. Data show that this assessment is an effective way for teacher candidates to demonstrate that they know how to meet the needs of all learners and respond to many different kinds of learning needs and styles.
All internship evaluation forms, used in every internship, are aligned to the Millikin Teaching Standards and the Illinois Professional Teaching Standards. All internship evaluation forms quantify a teacher candidate's ability to teach and interact with a variety of diverse learners. The student teaching evaluation forms additionally include content area standards. Evaluation forms also measure dispositions, which are the attitudes, behaviors and skills demonstrated in the professional work environment. Clinical faculty, unit faculty, and school faculty evaluate teacher candidates in regards to their ability to respond to diverse populations in a classroom. Teacher candidates also self-evaluate and reflect on the dispositions they are demonstrating.
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