Member Voices: The Value and Rewards of Participating in a State AACTE Chapter
Early in my academic career as a faculty member, the Indiana Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (IACTE) was referred to as "the deans group." Its meetings were attended primarily by those holding administrative positions, which did not include me. Still, I got to work with IACTE during this time: I had been appointed by the governor to the Indiana Professional Standards Board (IPSB) for teacher education and licensure, which worked collaboratively with IACTE on developing new standards-based licensure and assessments. At a time when teacher education was truly valued in the state, our joint efforts placed Indiana as one of the front runners in best practices in teacher preparation and the use of performance-based assessments.
Fast forward to changes in our state’s political landscape that began early in the 2000s. Indiana was again a front runner–but this time we were running in the wrong direction! All of the good work done by IACTE and IPSB was dismantled under a new administration. Alternative pathways to teacher licensure, consistent messaging and policies that undermined the profession, and the dismissal of the value of teacher preparation programs by elected officials opened the door for IACTE to once again step up as a leader. This time, IACTE leadership united deans and faculty to become advocates for the profession. We became a very united and inclusive organization that spoke to the legislature and media with one voice. Participation at state IACTE meetings grew as we all needed to be informed and share our ideas and strategies with one another. Administrators and faculty attended and presented panel presentations together, and we encouraged members to bring school-based colleagues as well.
With the valuable support of an AACTE State Chapter Support Grant, the organization expanded again by developing opportunities for teacher education students to learn about advocacy. They even were able to attend the AACTE Annual Meeting when it was held in Indianapolis. The boundaries of IACTE continued to expand again this year when we received a second AACTE chapter grant to deepen our collaborative work with the state superintendents association, the teacher association, and the state principals association. What had once felt like a "deans only" group has truly become a representative voice for a multifaceted profession!
As the Midwest representative to AACTE’s Advisory Council of State Representatives (ACSR), I feel this council is working toward a similar model of inclusivity by connecting our own states as well as all of the regions through our periodic regional conference calls. We are learning from one another as we face similar challenges, and we are creating a unified voice on critical issues facing teacher education.
My participation in IACTE, ACSR, and AACTE continues to be a fulfilling professional learning experience. It is by learning with and from others that the profession of preparing educators will not only survive, but thrive!
Ena Shelley is past president of IACTE and current Midwest representative to ACSR.
Dean and Professor, Butler University