When the UW-Parkside Teacher Education Department closed its doors in May 2010 for restructuring, many students and faculty members were left to question where to go and what to expect from a new, reformed program. Nearly a year and a half later, the renamed Teacher Preparation and Professional Development Program is growing, as it continues its research and development from the ground up.
The previously instated Teacher Education program had many problems within its curriculum and community outreach. The decision to close the program was difficult for all who were involved, but they felt it was a necessary step in preserving quality education for the region and the state.
“We had been working for several years to better meet the needs of the community, and it became clear that the structure of the program was not going to allow us to do that,” said Dr. Moreen Travis Carvan. “We had to close the program in order to step back and recreate it from the ground up.”
The rebuilding and reformation process began in phases. First and foremost, the department dedicated itself to helping students who had already been admitted to the program and who were midway through their licensure. In the process otherwise known as Phase One, the department worked closely with the Advising Center to map out the course schedule for the students who were already in the program. This included mapping out their entire course schedules and working with other University of Wisconsin partners to ensure that the students stayed informed about all options and alternatives that would allow them to pursue their degree. Through these preparations and connections, the former department helped the rest of its students, the last of which are on track to graduate in the spring of 2012.
In Phase Two, the UW-Parkside Teacher Preparation and Professional Development program aims to create a responsive, regional educator development system. Ultimately, they hope to define what UW-Parkside’s role is in that system and the community. That begins with meeting the current needs in educational institutions. In order to fulfill the academic needs of students, the program has extended its research and outreach to the South Eastern Wisconsin area, including local high schools. In doing so, the program developers hope to identify the needs of the students and curriculum. Ultimately, they hope to produce the best possible educators that they can to not only meet, but exceed in fulfilling the neighboring school’s needs.
Additionally, the Teacher Preparation and Professional Development Program created a coordinating council, composed of the neighboring high school’s superintendents, UW-Parkside faculty members, and other community members who are affected by the educational system. The coordinating council worked closely with the Public Policy Forum, which does extensive research about issues in the state. In forming this partnership, the council was able to project the educational needs for the region.
Through the research that the Public Policy Forum and the coordinating council found, they were able to target nine critical areas that would ensure a better program and, furthermore, produce better educators. These nine areas have been split into nine design teams that will work diligently to create a cohesive, comprehensive curriculum for the new program. The first design team will help students seek pathways to the license. The second group focuses on partnership logistics. The third aspect is strictly dedicated to communication, as the program hopes to strengthen communication and outreach with the community, state, and nation.
“We are looking at the impact that our students are having in the classrooms, that we are nationally accredited, and that we are recognized. We are going to be sure that we publish what we are doing, we talk about what we are doing, and we hope to get feedback.” said Dr. Carvan.
The other design teams focus on the intricacies within the program itself. One design team works intimately with the curriculum for the new program. As cultural competence is significant both within educational institutions and the world, there is an intense focus on incorporating that into the new program. The Quality Cluster design team identifies the qualifications and standards that the program, faculty and students posses and need to preserve. The assessment aspect focuses on the impact UW-Parkside graduates have on their students. Finally, there is one design team strictly dedicated to leadership.
With the aforementioned progress and dedication from faculty and community members alike, the Teacher Preparation and Professional Development Program plans to reopen in the fall of 2013. With the reopening, UW-Parkside should expect to see something completely different. As Wisconsin has been a leading innovator in Teacher Education programs over the last fifteen years, the UW-System strives to preserve and uphold that standard. With that in mind, UW-Parkside hopes to maintain a top tear, state of the art system for its prospective educators.
“When we have people go through that programs, whether they are recommended for a teaching license or principal’s license, we want them to know that they have gone through an intensive professional development process and that we have continuing programs for continuing that process, and that we can track their student impact out in the community to make sure we are meeting community needs. That is where we are going right now.” said Dr. Carvan.