Effective and genuine teaching is not a product of someone simply 'thinking' that one way of teaching is better than another. On the contrary, there are sound teaching strategies and specific knowledge and skills that have been researched and found to be better than others in creating effective learning situations for all students. Meaningful learning and understanding occur when empirically-based methods are applied. These methods require a teacher to know, understand, and then apply research-based pedagogy (Dill and Associates, 1990; Grossman, 1990).
All teacher candidates and other school professionals are required to demonstrate technological proficiency, and they are expected to use technology in their classrooms to support their own learning as well as the learning of P-12 students. They are expected to use instructional and assistive technology to help students acquire information, communicate, and enhance learning.
In an Initial program at Brockport, deliberate efforts are made to provide alternative ways of presenting content that are appropriate for students of different ages and interest levels. Candidates have the opportunity to examine their own ways of learning, knowing, and organizing concepts. By participating in activities in which they learn about themselves as learners, they discover their own ways of knowing (Duckworth, 1996). Through active learning, group projects, discussions, and presentations, they acquire an understanding of themselves as learners, and they begin to appreciate the complexity of constructing knowledge. They begin to recognize that learners are "active constructors rather than passive recipients of knowledge" (Brown, 1994, p.6).
Through intensive supervised field experiences prior to student teaching, candidates participate in classrooms for more than 100 hours. During this participation, they move from being student and teacher “watchers” to “planners and implementers” of lessons, first with small groups of students and then with whole classrooms of students. When planning and implementing lessons, candidates learn to take into account the backgrounds and interest levels of the students they are teaching. They learn the importance of building relationships with students and the critical role these relationships have on student success (Berliner, 1992).
Because the mission of the College includes a commitment to engage students in "a culturally diverse society and in globally interdependent communities," candidates are placed in field experience settings in which they have the opportunity to work with diverse students. Experiences in urban classrooms with students for whom English is a second language and with students from different cultures and family backgrounds from themselves help candidates understand and appreciate the importance of connecting how they teach to students' interests and prior knowledge. Sleeter and Grant (1986) point out that it is critical to familiarize teachers with multicultural sensitivity, because teachers unfamiliar with or insensitive to students’ needs unconsciously make the learning process more difficult for them. Combined with their experiences in courses in child development and adolescent psychology, candidates have the opportunity to learn about the students they teach. These experiences are continued in student teaching in which they spend 15 weeks in two different settings. For students in early childhood education, the placements occur in Pre K, kindergarten, and grades one or two; for students in childhood education, the placements occur in both a primary grade (1-3) and an intermediate grade (4-6); and for students in adolescence education, the placements occur in a middle school (7-8) and high school (9-12); for students in physical education and health science, the placements occur at the elementary (K-6) and secondary (7-12) levels.
In an Advanced teacher education program at Brockport, candidates enter the program with initial teacher certification. During their Advanced program, they apply in greater depth the content in their professional area of certification, and they interact with their peers in collaborative settings. Often they have the opportunity to address the problems of practice and to link knowledge with practice in the context in which they teach and work as professionals. As described by Heibert, Gallimore & Stigler, (2002), this allows professionals to create knowledge that is linked with practice in two ways; first, its creation is motivated by problems of practice; and second, each new bit of knowledge is connected to the process of teaching and learning that actually occur in the classroom (p.6).
For practitioners, knowledge of content and pedagogy are intertwined, and this knowledge is usually organized according to the issue that needs to be addressed. It is through collaborative sharing with other practitioners in their advanced courses that candidates enhance their own and others’ professional knowledge. Our commitment to diversity and technology is reflected in the course requirements for candidates at both the Initial and Advanced levels and in the standards outlined for these programs.