The challenge of education is to be a master of subject matter and an expert in the learning process. The teacher education program at Buena Vista University offers the professional courses required for licensure in elementary education, secondary education, special education and various endorsement areas. All programs are approved by the Iowa Department of Education and are accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Buena Vista University is committed to developing quality teacher education graduates within the conceptual framework of the principles developed by the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC). In addition, the program adheres to the guidelines developed by the professional associations in education and the Iowa Department of Education.
InTASC principles affirm the traditional approach of needing to know; however, they ask the learner to move on to a performance or outcome of that knowledge as the demonstration of true understanding. The ten InTASC principles upon which the program has been grouped into four general categories to help users organize their thinking about the standards.
The Learner and Learning
Standard #1: Learner Development. The teacher understands how learners grow and develop, recognizing that patterns of learning and development vary individually within and across the cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and physical areas, and designs and implements developmentally appropriate and challenging learning experiences.
Standard #2: Learning Differences. The teacher uses understanding of individual differences and diverse cultures and communities to ensure inclusive learning environments that enable each learner to meet high standards.
Standard #3: Learning Environments. The teacher works with others to create environments that support individual and collaborative learning, and that encourage positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self motivation.
Standard #4: Content Knowledge. The teacher understands the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline(s) he or she teaches and creates learning experiences that make the discipline accessible and meaningful for learners to assure mastery of the content.
Standard #5: Application of Content. The teacher understands how to connect concepts and use differing perspectives to engage learners in critical thinking, creativity, and collaborative problem solving related to authentic local and global issues.
Standard #6: Assessment. The teacher understands and uses multiple methods of assessment to engage learners in their own growth, to monitor learner progress, and to guide the teacher’s and learner’s decision making.
Standard #7: Planning for Instruction. The teacher plans instruction that supports every student in meeting rigorous learning goals by drawing upon knowledge of content areas, curriculum, cross-disciplinary skills, and pedagogy, as well as knowledge of learners and the community context.
Standard #8: Instructional Strategies. The teacher understands and uses a variety of instructional strategies to encourage learners to develop deep understanding of content areas and their connections, and to build skills to apply knowledge in meaningful ways.
Standard #9: Professional Learning and Ethical Practice. The teacher engages in ongoing professional learning and uses evidence to continually evaluate his/her practice, particularly the effects of his/her choices and actions on others (learners, families, other professionals, and the community), and adapts practice to meet the needs of each learner.
Standard #10: Leadership and Collaboration. The teacher seeks appropriate leadership roles and opportunities to take responsibility for student learning, to collaborate with learners, families, colleagues, other school professionals, and community members to ensure learner growth, and to advance the profession.
The "Teacher as Reflective Practitioner" approach is an organizing theme in the School of Education and Exercise Science. This theme requires students to develop and reflect in three areas: as learner, as instructor, and as professional. The reflective practitioner theme requires students to be conscious of their practice and its impact on others, to have a thoughtful explanation for the course of action chosen and to develop a mindset that constantly reflects on current practice and activity so as to improve upon it.
The InTASC principles, Iowa Department of Education guidelines, and trends in the profession require that teacher education programs follow a performance-based model. As one moves through Buena Vista University's program, one will experience the performance-based orientation through completion of course competencies, development of portfolios, and the systematic progression through required checkpoints. The emphasis of these activities will be on outcomes: clear, observable demonstrations of learning.