JMU Professional Education Unit Conceptual Framework

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.



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 diverselearners.

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 whileplanning, 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


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 educationalcommunityand 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 assessmentpractices 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.


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.


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.