As the school year nears its end, teachers everywhere are contending with mounting time pressures, waning resources and energy reserves, maybe even an epidemic of spring fever. For some teachers, though, the frenzy and frustrations seem to last all year–and they may feel isolated, underappreciated, and powerless to change the situation. AACTE President/CEO Lynn M. Gangone has this message to encourage them to strengthen their capacity to both support students and thrive as successful members of the professional community.
As a teacher, you’re focused on helping students. You draw from your content knowledge, determine appropriate pedagogy for the particular child and context, and forge connections with resources to support each learner’s growth. What’s more, these practices benefit more than just the young people in your care–teachers, too, thrive with a rich support network in their community and tailored opportunities to learn and grow as professionals.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of AACTE’s founding. Created in 1948 as an alliance to boost the quality of teachers being prepared for the country’s growing public school system, our association remains steadfastly focused on the democratic ideal of providing all students equitable access to an excellent education.
AACTE’s platinum anniversary falls at a time when this ideal is still far from being realized, or even universally held, in our society. Many Americans seem to have forgotten what our nation’s founding fathers knew: that quality public education is an essential element of a democracy. John Adams called for the “whole people [to] take upon themselves the education of the whole people”; Thomas Jefferson insisted a civilization could not be both ignorant and free. Over time, persistent activism from the suffragette and civil rights movements expanded the nation’s understanding of whose voices count – of what “the whole people” really means.
AACTE is committed to high-quality educator preparation and works continually to assist member institutions in understanding what is necessary to engage in quality assurance processes. A recent decision by the AACTE Board of Directors, described in this blog by AACTE Board Chair Renée A. Middleton, reaffirms the importance of a unified national accreditation system that assures our nation’s teacher candidates are of the highest caliber, and clarifies AACTE’s role in the quality assurance environment. The Board and the AACTE national office team are dedicated to listening to and serving our members, and Dean Middleton’s blog reflects that commitment to member value.
One of the primary roles of educators is to prepare learners to become engaged citizens in a 21st-century democratic society. Today’s educators enter highly diverse schools that reflect the breadth of our nation, and AACTE members are committed to ensuring that their candidates are ready and able to be successful with all of their students. National accreditation requires educator preparation providers to address profession-wide standards of excellence and supplies metrics that support high quality by promoting programmatic reflection and continuous improvement. AACTE members embrace accountability measures that demonstrate their programs’ effectiveness and contribute to program improvement.
The greatest benefit of an association is the collective effort of its members to identify and then advance shared values. In the 2016 Harvard Business Review article “The Ecosystem of Shared Value,” the authors describe collective impact as a movement that successfully brings together various actors in their ecosystems to catalyze change. In the ecosystem of educator preparation, every individual AACTE member plays a critical role in creating a collective voice that impacts American education today and beyond. Through members’ active engagement, AACTE is empowered to achieve successes beneficial to our entire professional community and the students we serve.
Leading into this academic year, I have been highlighting AACTE’s core principles as they reflect members’ shared values and the driving force of our work. This month, I celebrate AACTE’s core values around scholarship and knowledge production, which represent your commitment to high research standards and to producing scholarship that contributes to educational practice. AACTE, its members, and its collaborative partners stand ready as a collective voice to effect educational and social change.
The AACTE Quality Support Workshop this month was an inspirational model of improvement in action. During my 3 days in Minneapolis, I witnessed a profound commitment among participants to ensure high levels of quality in their programs. Understanding standards and evidence more deeply, using data more strategically, and creating more effective quality assurance systems were some of the topics covered.
Dedication to continuous improvement is shared by AACTE’s members and the Association itself. To that end, the AACTE team is focusing the first part of this new academic year on an extensive review of the organization’s operations and programs, facilitated by an experienced consulting firm with assistance from a staff steering committee (see this recent article by Vice President Rod Lucero). In addition, an Association-wide member survey launches in September, and we’re counting on your participation to inform our work going forward. AACTE is always looking to improve and meet the changing needs of the membership.