Education Studies has developed goals that reflect the multiple facets of its mission and the unique role that such a program can play at a liberal arts college. As a program of teacher preparation, we seek to prepare students for initial licensure in accordance with mandates stipulated by the state of Vermont. In addition, in keeping with our broader goals and mission statement, we also seek to prepare students to bring core knowledge and skills to bear on the challenges facing education communities locally and globally as teachers, school administrators, psychologists and other school personnel, and educational researchers and theorists. In whatever professional role our students choose to assume, we challenge them to embody and model the meaning of "best practice" as an intellectual and moral practice.
To that end, we have set out three primary learning goals.
- Students enrolled in the licensure program will be prepared for recommendation for initial licensure in the state of Vermont and beyond (we have reciprocity across the country) in accordance with state required standards, ROPA (Results Oriented Program Approval) Standard I: Standards-Based Preparation
- "Standard I: Standards-Based Preparation: Programs provide candidates with coherent and purposeful instructional experiences. Programs assure that candidates acquire content-rich general knowledge and the knowledge, skills, dispositions, and pedagogy of their content area(s) as reflected in the Five Standards for Vermont Educators: A Vision for Schooling, the 16 Principles for Vermont Educators, the Vermont Framework of Standards and Learning Opportunities the Grade Expectations, and the endorsement requirements."
- All minors, whether enrolled in the licensure program in elementary or secondary education or following the general minor should have a foundation in the principles and philosophy of education. To that end, all minors should be able to understand and apply multiple lenses to examine, debate, and write about critical issues in education policy and practice, that include content, pedagogy, and/or discipline specific issues as well as issues of power, privilege, social dominance, and social justice.
- All minors should be able to engage K - 12 students in meaningful educational experiences in local, national and global contexts using current "best practice" techniques, appropriate application of educational technologies, and relevant knowledge and cultural competencies to engage diverse student bodies.
Education Studies minors meet our goals in several specific ways
- Students are prepared for recommendation for initial licensure through their major studies for content knowledge, the minor course requirements in psychology for children's and adolescent development and theories and practice of educational psychology, the "methods" courses, EDST 0305, 0315, 0317 in elementary education, and 0318, 0320, and 0327 in secondary education, and the student teaching semester EDST 0410, 0405 - 0407 and 0415 - 0417. In these courses they learn to take their content knowledge and reconstruct it according to state and discipline standards, and plan for lessons and units in culturally sensitive, age-appropriate ways.
- To have a foundation in the principles and philosophy of education our minors should be able to understand and apply multiple lenses to examine, debate, and write about critical issues in education policy and practice, that include content and/or discipline specific issues as well as issues of power, privilege, social dominance, and social justice. This is accomplished in all classes, through discussion and reflective papers addressing, for example, current practices, political, economic, and social ramifications in debates and legislation on education, and inequities in our educational system, however, particular attention is paid in EDST 0115, Education in the USA, and in EDST 0410, 0405 - 0407 and 0415 - 0417, the student teaching semester.
- All minors should be able to engage K - 12 students in meaningful educational experiences in local, national and global contexts using current "best practice" techniques, appropriate application of educational technologies, and relevant knowledge and cultural competencies to engage diverse student bodies. This is accomplished through the placement feature of all Methods courses. All students, no matter which minor track they pursue, must take at least two courses that involve a placement in local schools. In these placements, they observe and participate in K - 12 classrooms, supplementing their in course work that includes learning how to plan lessons and units, and the theoretical background for particular strategies and pedagogic practices. For students who continue on to the student teaching semester, this background experience translates to an intense practical application of the pedagogical and theoretical knowledge they have acquired.
All "methods" courses require not only the placement mentioned above, but the construction of a web site that contains required sections of the ROPA licensure portfolio, including extensive reflections in each section, and which, in fact, leads directly to the creation of the final portfolio in the student teaching semester.
In October 2008, the Education Studies Program (then called the Teacher Education Program) went through a major state re-accreditation review under the ROPA guidelines. The following is excerpted and adapted from that report. The full report is available upon request.
"As a central component of their Middlebury College experience, candidates develop in-depth content and pedagogical knowledge of their endorsement area through the pursuit of their major, and research-based knowledge of child and adolescent development as well as knowledge about educational psychology, including learning theories and creating equitable learning environments from their required Psychology courses and from their "methods" courses in the Teacher Education Program. The scaffolding from theory to practice takes place in the field opportunities required for all candidates through their Teacher Education coursework. In general, students receive the bulk of their content knowledge, and implicit pedagogical instruction from the scholars who are their professors at the college. Explicit pedagogical instruction, embedded in discipline-based projects occurs in their Teacher Education courses and in their field placements. The relatively small size of the Teacher Education program precludes specific and exclusive pedagogy classes, particularly at the secondary level. This could be viewed as a shortcoming. However, this path toward developing the greatest proficiency and depth in content and pedagogy is particularly well suited to Middlebury College, as it is fundamentally and consciously rooted in the idea that deep and wide content knowledge is the foundation for excellence. We want our students to be scholars in their fields who then bring that knowledge to the K - 12 world through their teaching. The program seeks to facilitate the leap from pure scholarship to young educator through training in pedagogy, methodology, and reflection. At the junction of their developing philosophies of education, including their ethical and social commitments and dispositions, and their knowledge of methodology and teaching strategies, their strong working understanding of pedagogy emerges.
"Our students develop their content knowledge and pedagogical expertise over the course of their time as a minor and in the student teaching seminar. Our courses are not developmentally sequenced in the traditional sense as that does not fit with the liberal arts model, however they are developmental and by taking them all, the students receive the sum total of knowledge. For example, in the secondary program, in TEDU [now called EDST] 0318, the focus is on lesson planning leading toward a single subject unit. In TEDU [now called EDST] 0320, the focus is on a multidisciplinary unit plan in which each student has to develop three individual lessons that align with the student's endorsement area, and address the unit as a whole. Each of these lessons and the unit requires a reflection piece. In the Elementary Education program, the same approach toward a developmental whole exists. In [all] methods courses students construct preliminary [digital] portfolio websites and add features such as teaching episodes, teaching-over-time unit outlines, content specific case studies, and selected field journal entries from each field placement experience. Numerous other reflection exercises are also required. In terms of acquiring ethical principles [what ROPA calls dispositions], our students come to us ready to enhance their often already impressive resumes which are filled with commitment to young people, to volunteerism, and which demonstrate their humane attitudes. We augment this by encouraging the uncovering of biases, both social and personal in our classrooms, by asking the students to consider diverse points of view and the sociopolitical implications and consequences of actions (or non-action)."
"...[T]he Teacher Education Program is proud to note that it has been at the cutting edge of technology use, both in the college, and state wide in education programs. We are strongly supported in these efforts by Middlebury College, but we are not resting on these achievements. Additional goals need to be addressed. In particular, we seek improvement in the use of technology in the actual lesson plans of our student teachers. While they are learning to support their growth as professionals by using technology in innovative ways, they need more practice with the use of technology as a tool during teaching episodes. Over the last few years, we have infused technology into all of the required Teacher Education courses and some of our courses now require technology in the lesson plans, but we would like to do even more to bridge the gap between the skills candidates have and the skills they are able to implement and teach in the classrooms they occupy.
"Finally, we would emphasize that we have created a very student-oriented program; we maintain close contact and relationships with potential candidates throughout their time in the Program. As noted, we are a small program, and in the foreseeable future will remain so, but we have recently added several courses through collaboration with our liberal arts colleagues; and we have continued to make our program far better known on campus than in recent years. Teacher Education faculty are now in the rotation for offering First Year Seminars, and we have increased our visibility through the very popular introductory level course, Education in America, with our Teacher Education Affiliates, by sponsoring and/or co-sponsoring lectures and symposia on campus, and by participation on panels, in workshops, and giving faculty lectures. Perhaps most importantly, if we are truly judging by results, our students are enthusiastically hired and overwhelmingly pleased with our program and the preparation we offer them."
Our students continue on into numerous fields, including traditional K - 12 teaching placements, school psychologists, social activists; many continue on to graduate school, often after several years in the classroom. The unique combination of theory, reflection and practice offered to and required of Education Studies minors situates them very well in all of these diverse pursuits.