Vision, Mission, & Conceptual Framework
Department of Education
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Department of Education Vision:
We envision a world in which education positively contributes to each person's ability to reach their potential in acting for society's good.
Department of Education Mission:
Our mission is to prepare learner-sensitive educators with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to contribute to a better society.
Department of Education Conceptual Framework:
The Learner-Sensitive Educator conceptual framework is grounded in theory, research, and effective practices and is the shared foundation for all Department of Education programs at UMD. The name “learner-sensitive” was a deliberate choice in contrast to the more conventional “student-centered” approach, which places the student at the center of instruction, materials, and the learning process (e.g. Dewey, 1910; Rogoff, 1990). A learner-sensitive framework encompasses what is student-centered and goes further to embrace culturally sustaining pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 2014; Paris, 2012).
The Learner-Sensitive Educator conceptual framework is not a curriculum, but rather the ideological guide for all of the Department of Education programs – graduate and undergraduate, and degrees, licensure and certificates. The framework is an articulation of the collective beliefs and values of the department faculty, deliberated and articulated in collaboration, toward providing experiences that embody those values and beliefs for Education students of all levels, and toward instilling those values and beliefs in students as educators. We strive to live out the values and beliefs expressed in the themes of the conceptual framework as a department community, on campus, and in our relationships with schools, families, and communities locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. The Learner-Sensitive Educator conceptual framework is a nexus of five themes which are the guideposts of our collective curriculum, pedagogy, and scholarship in the department: collaboration, reflection, empowerment, social justice, and technology.
The Learner-Sensitive Educator logo symbolizes the Department of Education conceptual framework which appears on the department website, handbooks, etc. How it is embedded in UMD Education courses, field experiences and student teaching is documented in course syllabi. The conceptual framework guides and permeates all aspects of the Department of Education. Descriptions of each of the five themes of the conceptual framework are stated below.
Educators must turn outwardly to collaboration. Collaboration is a conscious effort toward building and sustaining generative relationships and partnerships that enable educational experiences to be shared, interactive, and supportive of all voices and perspectives (McCaleb, 2013). Collaboration, at all levels (local, national, global), is essential to empowering and in promoting a healthy, civil and just society.
Educators must develop reflection as a habit of mind. Reflective educators examine their own understanding and experiences and engage in analysis of ideas, best practices, professional literature and current research to gain new insights about their professional practices and about those with whom they work and serve. The practice of reflection is not merely technical nor is it reactive. It is a continuous process of turning inward to deeply and critically examine the assumptions, beliefs, values, and mores that direct the pedagogical and curricular decisions one makes. Authentic reflection is intrinsically related to social justice and empowerment in that it produces personal awareness and a willingness to participate in one’s own and others’ processes of transformation (Schon, 2084; Roffey-Barentson & Malthouse, 2009).
A civil and just society is premised upon the right of empowerment. Power is not given nor is it a commodity to be bartered; yet power can be denied to some and abused by others. Educators bear a certain responsibility to lead students toward their fullest potentials to develop power and efficacy in their lives. It is a particular charge to guide UMD Education students, through their own study, effort, and practice, to develop personal ownership of their role as professionals, and to develop skills, expertise, integrity and confidence in their capabilities as educators so that they may have positive influence on those they teach to develop power and efficacy, and in the communities in which they work and live, and in the world (Shor and Freire, 1987).
Social justice is an ethic, a guiding principle that calls people to act and to confront issues of ability, political and economic inequalities, power discourses, privilege, and socio-environmental injustices that plague society. Social justice is often defined less by words and more often implicitly by the direct actions and work of those that strive for it (North, 2006). To contribute to social justice requires educators to comprehend the histories and experiences of diverse peoples, to develop cultural competence, and to exhibit sensitivity toward individuals and communities.
In the 21st century technology has changed how we “do” education. Technology has created a global society that redefines the boundaries of power and influence. It is imperative that educators understand the ethical, social, political, global, and pedagogical implications of technologies. Educators need to develop the skills to discover, master, and critically analyze current and evolving technologies to provide effective and appropriate use in their professional practices. Educators must move beyond a contemporary understanding of technology and adopt a future-oriented understanding in order to imagine the world in which their students will live (Mishra (2012).
Dewey, J. (1910). Experience and education. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Rogoff, B. (1990). Apprenticeship in thinking. New York: Oxford University Press.
Ladson-Billings, G. (2014) Culturally Relevant Pedagogy 2.0: a.k.a. the Remix. Harvard
Educational Review: April 2014, Vol. 84, No. 1, pp. 74-84.
Paris, D. (2012). Culturally sustaining pedagogy: A needed change in stance, terminology,
and practice. Educational Researcher, 41(3), pp. 93-97.
McCaleb, S. P. (2013). Building communities of learners: A collaboration among teachers,
students, families, and communities. New York: Routledge.
Schon, D. (1984). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York:
Roffey-Barentsen, J., & Malthouse, R. (2009). Reflective practice in the lifelong learning
sector. Glagow, UK: Learning Matters, Ltd.
Shor, I., & Freire, P. (1987). A pedagogy for liberation: Dialogues on transforming
education. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.
North, C. (2006). More than words? Delving into the substantive meaning(s) of “social
justice.” Review of Educational Research, 76(4), 507 – 535.
Mishra, P. (2012). Rethinking technology & creativity in the 21st century: Crayons are the
future. TechTrends, 56(5), 13-16.