USAO TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAM CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (USAO), realizing the need for excellent teachers in our schools, continually works to improve its Teacher Education Program. It is vital to the welfare of candidates at all educational levels that we prepare ethical, effective, informed, and reflective teachers who are capable of independent practice and continued professional growth. To achieve this mission, the USAO Teacher Education Program employs an integrated, three-part conceptual framework to prepare future teachers for tomorrow's classrooms. This model integrates competencies in three areas: 1) liberal arts; 2) field of specialization; and 3) professional education incorporating research about effective teaching.
The first component of the conceptual framework consists of the 51-hour interdisciplinary liberal arts and science curriculum. This unique general education curriculum is infused into each candidate's academic experience and integrated with career preparation. Requiring preservice teachers to acquire a liberal arts education with an interdisciplinary approach is consistent with the USAO mission and sound pedagogy.
An interdisciplinary understanding is enhanced through the second component of the conceptual framework. This component requires each candidate to develop competency in a specialty area through intensive study in that field. State and learned society guidelines provide the basis for specialty area competencies.
The third component of the conceptual framework is guided by an extensive body of research that identifies the processes and characteristics constituting effective schools, teachers, and instruction. Collectively, the effective teacher research confirms for educators that: (a) students' schooling achievement is profoundly influenced by the kinds of learning experiences provided by the home and schools; and (b) differences in student achievement correspond to differences in classroom management, processes, and instruction. It is from this body of research that the Oklahoma State Department of Education has identified the Oklahoma General Competencies for Teacher Licensure and Certification and the Minimum Criteria for Effective Teaching. The licensure and certification competencies provide the foundation for competency-based teacher education programs in Oklahoma. The Minimum Criteria for Effective Teaching is used by Oklahoma administrators to evaluate all classroom teachers in Oklahoma. Therefore, to become successful classroom teachers, it is imperative that preservice teachers be able to understand, exemplify, and implement these research findings.