The UMFK Education Program will create an environment for optimal learning that emphasizes knowledge, values, and experiences by integrating these with teaching, learning, and service within our academic discipline while maintaining our program’s ethical and unique practices.
The academic mission of the Division of Education is to prepare students as undergraduate teachers who are prepared to be reflective scholars, instructional leaders, and global citizens. Reflective scholars pursue knowledge with an open-minded and whole-hearted attitude. The process for becoming reflective is the basis of the entire program, because persons who teach from this perspective actively analyze their teaching practices and the educational, social, and political contexts in which their teaching is embedded. The teacher as instructional leader responds to the question; “reflective about what and to what purpose?” Teachers as global citizens, responds to the current social, economic and political realities. The growing global interdependence must clearly be faced if prospective teachers are to be equipped with the necessary tools for teaching. One of the Division’s goals is to empower new teachers with the tools necessary to respond to the future demands of education. By preparing you to become a “reflective scholar, instructional leader, and global educator,” the Division prepares you to serve a key role in a profession that is progressive and improving. You will be qualified to educate tomorrow’s adults to reach their full individual potential and prepare them not only for a life of work, but for a life of worth.
The education division at the University of Maine at Fort Kent (UMFK) is responsible for the development and approval of the course work and experiences that makes up the core curriculum of our educational programs. It is our belief, as outlined in our mission statement, that there are many qualities that are part of being an effective teacher. The focus on reflective practice, social awareness, leadership and citizenry are essential parts of our overall mission and are focused on the core belief that educators need to be lifelong learners who understand and participate in the ever-changing world of education.
Our pre-service teachers learn to plan, teach and assess students in a standards based classroom (Learning Results and/or Common Core) based classroom and are engaged in educational experiences that are based on a holistic curricular model which blends their core methods courses, with clinical lab classes, 250 hours of pre-student teaching practicum and which cumulates with a sixteen-week experience in student teaching. Students are expected to model the key dispositions needed for an effective and reflective teacher and strives to ensure that our graduates are “classroom ready” for their first job. Each student is required to demonstrate proficiencies in their mastery of essential knowledge, the application of educational pedagogies and in modeling critical teacher dispositions.
By blending content, methodology and assessment, while at the same time focusing on the creation of products to demonstrate their abilities, the program guides students to take ownership of the educational processes and skills they need to be effective and reflective teachers. The program is designed to help students transition from the study of content and theory to the art of practice and application. The education programs stress that effective teachers understand learner development, and support the needs of individual learners and differentiate instruction for issues such as diversity and exceptionality. The program offers students multiple opportunities to study and explore the practice of classroom management based on the work of C.M. Charles (2014) and stresses the need for an engaging classroom environment. Candidate success in meeting these program outcomes is measured through key assignments in courses and lab classes, assessments in clinical field experiences and through the professional portfolio which is required as a capstone assignment in all education programs.
The basis for this framework is founded in progressivism, particularly constructivism, as described by Bohlin, (2014) and illustrated in the works of Dewey, Piaget and Vygotsky. Our program is further grounded in the foundational work on standards-based pedagogy and assessment practices as outlined by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe (1999) in Understanding by Design and Marzano and Pickering (1992) in Dimensions of Learning. Along with this foundational grounding the program relies on Wiggins and McTighe’s (2012) current work in unpacking and effectively using learning outcomes and standards in public classrooms.
Carol Ann Tomlinson (2005) in The Differentiated Classroom outlines how this foundational approach would work in classroom instruction. Tomlinson identifies three core components a learning experience should include to increase the effectiveness of a planned lesson. Teachers need to plan experiences which allow students to gain essential content, to develop associated skills/processes and they should provide students the opportunities to create products (written, oral or visual) to demonstrate standards-based competency. She further explains that teachers need to be well versed in instructional technique, assessment tools and multiple approaches to instruction. UMFK’s programs focus on the pre-service teacher understanding and planning curriculum for a diverse group of students.
Maine’s Common Core Teaching Standards serves as the core fiber in our alignment of programs with the conceptual framework. The standards illustrate the skills, abilities, and dispositions that pre-service teachers should have when they first enter the profession. Our program is dedicated to ensuing our candidates are proficient in each area of the common core teaching standards, including effective planning, working with diverse students, being effective classrooms managers, practicing innovative teaching pedagogies, utilizing effectively formative and summative assessments, and embracing the technology needs of their learners.
Overall, the framework stresses that teachers must be reflective practitioners who understand the multiple ways in which teachers adapt curriculum, methods, and behaviors to improve instruction for a diverse group of learners. Equally important to the pedagogical issues of planning and instruction, educators must have solid working knowledge of the subjects they teach and possess the ability to unpack and use educational standards based on content disciplines. Effective teachers create learning experiences where their students can learn the essential content and develop the ability to take that content to create meaningful products.