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Listen to Mom: Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Plate

Many of us growing up with siblings remember being told to “keep your eyes on your own plate” when issues arose or squabbles began. Those words come to my mind when reflecting on the current distractions hounding teacher education. Even as we actively promote the need for educators to think and act as one profession and to engage with various external groups, we also must not forget to mind our own business.

In addition to the uncertainty around the outcome of today’s highly contentious national election, many other factors are competing for our attention and causing us anxiety. The teacher preparation program regulations are now official, and so is the Every Student Succeeds Act. The nation is rapidly moving toward a major teacher shortage, and despite our very best efforts, we have not been able to make a significant dent in diversifying the profession. Our many critics continue to share their views on the state of university-based teacher preparation programs, and our national-level accrediting agency is still working to rise to the level it should in order to assist programs in meeting standards and improving their work. To my mind, we all could benefit from Mom’s mantra: Keep your eyes on your own plate.

Farewell to a Truly Great Teacher

The recent passing of Muhammad Ali was a sad time for many. Although I was not particularly a boxing fan, I count myself among the millions of individuals around the world who were significantly impacted by Ali’s teachings. As educators and teacher educators, we stand to benefit from discussing and embracing the steadfast resolve shown by this great legend.

My fascination and admiration with Ali began with a personal encounter while I was attending college in Pennsylvania. The champ trained for some of his boxing matches in Deer Lake, PA. Upon a Saturday night whim, a group of friends and I decided to visit his training camp. We arrived there not realizing that there were actually regular visiting hours—and unfortunately, we had missed them.

The Year Ahead: Opportunities and Challenges for AACTE and Our Field

I am honored to assume the role of chair of AACTE’s Board of Directors at such an exciting time for the organization and the profession as a whole. Nine weeks into my yearlong term, I’m eager to share my excitement with you about the work we’re doing together.

Most visible so far is our focus on accreditation, particularly our efforts to initiate a collaborative dialogue with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This dialogue aims to address concerns expressed by many AACTE members while continuing our support for CAEP as the field’s unified accrediting body.

Although important—in fact, critical—for our field, our work with CAEP is but one of a large portfolio of topics on AACTE’s agenda.

CAEP Board Chair Responds to AACTE Resolution

Renée Middleton and I recently (April 14) wrote a blog post updating readers on AACTE’s work related to a resolution passed in February by the AACTE Board of Directors in regard to the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This resolution reaffirmed our association’s commitment to CAEP and also cited concerns that have been raised by many AACTE members. Our blog provided a context for the work that AACTE seeks to undertake in collaboration with the leadership of CAEP, which AACTE supports as a single unified accrediting system for our field.

Update: AACTE Board Resolution

AACTE has long supported the role of accreditation in the field and continues to uphold the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) as the profession’s single accreditor. This commitment was reaffirmed by the AACTE Board of Directors at its meeting February 26, 2015. Along with offering this affirmation of support, the resolution passed by the Board also sought to open a conversation with CAEP around persistent concerns raised by the field with respect to CAEP’s standards, process, capacity, and representativeness in its governance structure.

A Powerful Voice That Will Live On

Public education lost one of its most powerful voices on Saturday, November 29, when John Goodlad passed away.

He had worked in educational institutions at all levels, teaching in a one-room school in Canada, as dean of the Graduate school of Education at UCLA, and as founder of the Center for Education Renewal (http://www.ieiseattle.org/CER.htm ) and the Institute for Educational Inquiry (http://www.ieiseattle.org ).

AACTE’s Diverse Membership

As a board member and officer of AACTE, I have grown to appreciate the complexity of the organization. A remarkable variety of institutions opt to unite around common interests under this “big tent” association.

Of course, you may think about AACTE membership from your own institutional perspective. Members of the Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education (AILACTE) may view AACTE as their organization, just as members of the Council of Academic Deans from Research Education Institutions (CADREI) may view us from their perspective. Certainly, members of the Teacher Education Council of State Colleges and Universities (TECSCU), where the largest number of new educators are taught, think of AACTE from their perspective. In fact, the Board of Directors is designed to reflect the various institutional types within AACTE, with designated seats for AILACTE, CADREI, and TECSCU representatives as well as for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and historically Black institutions. In reality, AACTE represents the entire array of U.S. teacher preparation institutions.

Accountability for Programs and Institutions: A Core Value

Accountability is a core value of AACTE and its membership. Although the current trend toward measuring teacher preparation programs’ outcomes rather than inputs is a clear step in the right direction, it is often difficult to produce meaningful evidence of program impact amid the wide-ranging ideas of what such evidence might be. Still, our profession is ahead of the game in dealing with the performance expectations and reporting demands that now face higher education in general.

Teaching: More Complex Than Rocket Science

American teachers touch the American future every day. They do so by producing good citizens, good employers, good workers, and good people. As teacher educators, we prepare these leaders.

In today’s political climate, too many people take a simplistic approach to teaching and learning. It’s not hard to find someone who will argue that to teach, all you need are good intentions. Nearly everyone has been in school, so many people believe this makes them expert on how to teach and even on how to train teachers. Similar logic would lead us to conclude that since everyone has been born, we could all be obstetricians and medical educators. Teaching and teacher training are not simple tasks.

Lessons From a Great Leader

Feyneese MillerOn December 5, the world lost one of the more important leaders of all time, Nelson Mandela.

Mandela epitomized what many in U.S. educator preparation programs hope to instill in our education leaders and teachers—a strong understanding of and commitment to social justice. Unfortunately, although we believe that all children and youth should receive a high-quality education and be treated with dignity and respect in the classroom, this ideal is in sharp contrast to reality.

Far too many of our children and youth, especially those in urban communities, are in classrooms with teachers who are underprepared or simply not equipped to teach those they perceive as different. Even as many of our preparation programs are implementing practices that limit “admission” to the field of teaching to those most ready to enter the classroom after rigorous study and strong clinical practice, the different pathways to the profession that some states have put into place may lead to an increase rather than a decrease in the achievement gap that currently exists between children and youth of different classes and races.

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