Conceptual Framework

Commitment

We recognize that any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it (Baldwin, 1984); accordingly, our candidates must be willing to reframe their perceptions of education in order to effectively serve their students and communities.  This kind of rethinking requires a deep commitment to the educational profession.  Candidates must be committed to knowing their content deeply enough to communicate it to diverse learners.

They must be committed to understanding their students in terms of their human development, social norms, and diverse learning needs. 

They must be committed to designing effective learning environments, and to forging healthy,collaborative relationships with students, school personnel, and members of the greater community

They must be committed to finding the most effective means of serving their students while planning, implementing, and assessing instruction.  

Finally, our candidates must be committed to the reflective process, consistently monitoring student progress and their own professional development, seeking to discover room for growth, and committed to doing whatever it takes – even “breaking up the world” as they know it – in order to ensure progress.

Cultivate Change

Our mission is to be a force in the cultivation of positive, persistent, ongoing, and effective change in the field of education.  We welcome the challenges inherent in developing a better future for all by promoting an in - depth understanding of content and a belief in the importance of creativity. Our candidates and faculty are committed to being agents of change within the university, the local community, and the world beyond.

Creativity

In order to achieve our mission of establishing a quality, dynamic academic unit that embraces change, it is vital for our faculty and candidates to understand the fundamental importance of the life of the imagination and its role in our educational community and in the world at large.

Creativity is an ability to tolerate ambiguity, accept challenge, take risks, discover original ways to solve problems and pose new questions. Consequently, its application plays a central role in both how we educate our candidates and the culturally responsive practices that they then bring to the classroom through innovative instructional planning, imaginative instructional strategies, insightful reflection and responsive assessment practices and communication.

By appreciating the diverse ways that students learn, candidates can differentiate instruction to address students’ individual and cultural needs.  Valuing creativity and imagination informs the very heart of our mission.

Community

It takes a village to educate a child.  Our faculty and candidates reach out to the community for support of student learning and well-being. In their classrooms, faculty model how to establish a sense of community through creating opportunities for collaboration among students through discussion, cooperative learning and peer assessment. In addition, our faculty and candidates reach out to the larger community in a variety of ways to support student learning through field-based internships and student teaching. Consequently, we are committed to developing candidate dispositions and communication techniques that foster collaboration with parents, guardians, colleagues, and organizations and that further nurture their practice.

Content

As we strive to develop life-long learners who have the knowledge, skills and dispositions to engage in continual inquiry within their chosen subject matter, we recognize the importance of our candidates being thoroughly grounded in the content in which they will teach. However, while deep subject matter knowledge is important, it is also vital for our candidates to develop a foundational understanding of human development and of effective pedagogical practice. Our programs are designed to develop education professionals who can integrate their knowledge of subject matter, human development and pedagogical content knowledge to collaboratively plan effective instructional strategies, assess learner outcomes, reflect on results, and revise instruction accordingly. 

By doing so, our candidates affirm the importance of the intersection of these different sets of knowledge in order to create supportive learning environments that cultivate change.


Conceptual Framework

The conceptual framework reflects our recognition that teaching is a complex and difficult task, requiring a significant degree of education, training, and experiences in order to meet the learning needs of all children, regardless of age, culture, condition or ability.

The programs at JMU rely on collaborative partnerships with schools and other community agencies, strong field-based teacher development, a continuum of skills development and reflective professional practice.

Program completers, therefore, should be skilled and adept in a set of competencies that are based on the propositions found in the Conceptual Framework. Those competencies include demonstrating:

  • Certain personal qualities and dispositions reflective of a professional educator.
  • Deep understanding of the content to be taught and ways to effectively teach the content.
  • An understanding of the impact of research on learning and development and how culture influences development.
  • An understanding of how students differ in approaches to learning and creating instructional opportunities for diverse learners.
  • Skill in effective planning for learning.
  • Skill in a wide variety of instructional strategies and technologies.
  • Skill at creating positive, effective learning environments.
  • The use of effective verbal, non-verbal, and media techniques that foster inquiry, collaboration, and positive interactions.
  • Skill in a variety of effective assessment techniques.
  • The ability to reflect on practice, adjust teaching methods and techniques, and seek professional growth.
  • Skill in developing positive relationships with parents, colleagues and families.