Teacher Education Philosophy
Gordon State College teacher education graduates will make a difference in the lives of the students and communities they serve. Their careers will build on the foundations of competence and disposition of character which were initially guided and shaped in their professional preparation at Gordon. Our program has a reputation among leaders in schools for the distinctive quality and capability of a "Gordon" teacher.
We envision the career of our teacher graduates along a maturity continuum in their development as adults. At various stages, teachers will find themselves in work conditions where concern for students may become subordinated by management issues and the sometimes chaotic nature of a school improvement environment. Our aim is to prepare our graduates so that they begin their first teaching assignment at a maturity level that enables them to quickly focus their concerns on teaching tasks and student learning issues. It is paramount that any student assigned to a teacher's care be guided by a professional who effectively utilizes best practices and exercises a mature professional judgment.
Schools are transforming their focus into a student-performance driven paradigm. While this characterization of schooling may state what was assumed about the purpose of education by every parent who has entrusted their child with educators since the beginning of school itself, in practice this has not been the traditional driving focus. Educators work within a heritage of autonomy, and to a greater extent in America, the one-room schoolhouse environment that exists whenever a teacher closes the classroom door. Inherently, the organization of schools has evolved based on the beliefs that the teaching and learning processes were connected.
Within the transformational context of school improvement, management, i.e., the U.S. Congress, State Legislatures, State Departments of Education, etc., have uniformly required testing of students against external standards as the driving measure of quality. The language of these standards is being revised to reflect the performance qualities of student learning as developmentally appropriate, and these performances are aligned with external criterion-based testing. Amid this array of externally imposed outcomes, a teacher also works as a team member in their school and district on the interpretation of these curricula in everyday practice. It is the aim of the Gordon State College faculty to provide pre-service experiences that model the best practices of curriculum, instruction, and assessment so that our graduates will be able to contribute to the work of school improvement teams in this environment.
More importantly, teachers must plan and execute the work designs that impact the learning expectations for all of their students. In an ideal situation, a school faculty should be able to pass on, or make accessible to new and beginning teachers during their induction phase, lessons learned from master teachers and school improvement teams. This does not imply that a teacher could get by in following someone else's learning plan as a technician Rather, Gordon's faculty envisions beginning teachers who know when it is not necessary to re-invent the wheel, but are also aware of the importance in exercising professional judgment and adaptability for their individual learner needs. Teachers are leaders in the educational profession making hundreds of executive decisions each day. Such teachers understand that the work they do is far less important than the work they get their students to perform. Ultimately teachers, who have grown past their own immediate concerns and those of their own classrooms develop what Carl Glickman refers to as, "a cause beyond oneself" as they understand their work as being part of a collective mission in working with others to improve learning opportunities for all students.