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 students 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 50-hour interdisciplinary liberal arts and science curriculum. This unique general education curriculum is infused into each student'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 student 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. It is in this third component that the skills and dispositions of effective teachers are identified, developed, and assessed.
The three components of the conceptual framework, knitted together by an interdisciplinary understanding, assist candidates in developing a unique interrelated world-view. Skills, dispositions, and knowledge gained throughout USAO's three-component experience are those identified through research as exhibited by effective teachers. Collectively, effective teacher research confirms for educators that:
Students' schooling achievement is profoundly influenced by the kinds of learning experiences provided by the home and schools, and
Differences in student achievement correspond to differences in classroom management, processes, and instruction.
Research related to effective schools, teachers and instruction is ongoing. This is evident in Oklahoma's system for evaluating teachers and administrators Oklahoma's Teacher-Leader Evaluation (TLE) system offers schools two options for evaluating teachers both of which are based on research related to effective teaching. Therefore, to become successful classroom teachers, it is imperative that pre-service teachers be able to understand, exemplify, and implement these research findings.