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Description of the Conceptual Framework

The conceptual framework, developed by the Bemidji State Teacher Education Unit, is an inquiry-based model and embodies the old adage: "Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand."  This belief is reflected in the dedication of the Unit to provide practical application of theory through partnerships with preK-12 public schools.  

The curriculum reflects theories of scholars such as Bloom, Dewey, Gardner, Vygotsky, and Piaget. Along with theory, the students consider their application to teaching as articulated by Danielson, Hammond-Darling, Maslow, Presky, and others.  The Standards of Effective Practice serve as the outline for course articulations.  Through academic study, practical field experiences and assessment that measures the attainment of The Standards of Effective Practice, Bemidji State University students leave with a well rounded academic grounding as well as an understanding of how to apply theory in the classroom.

BSU graduates are proficient, collaborative, technologically literate and environmentally aware.

Proficient
Collaborative
Technologically Literate
Environmentally Aware

Proficient

Bemidji State University candidates display competence in their subject matter. The candidates understand the principles of learning and assessment. They demonstrate the ability to model connections between philosophical foundations and best practices in the field.  They engage in research and complex thinking.  As lifelong learners, Bemidji State University candidates demonstrate thoughtful analysis of the meaning and significance of their actions, decisions, and results with regard to their work.  Critical thinking, reflection, and problem solving are prized and encouraged. 

In addition, candidates use a variety of techniques to question their procedures and consider alternatives for instruction and student growth.  Bemidji State University candidates are able to recognize learning, motivational, and developmental variables in their instructional practice and relate those dimensions to their teaching practices. 

A cooperating teacher commented:

“[Candidate] demonstrated excellent knowledge of the mathematical concepts he was teaching.  Students were always engaged in his class…” and  “I found every facet of my experience with [candidate] to be exceptional! From managing the classroom to creating an effective learning environment, he did an outstanding job” (documentation from cooperating teacher, 2011).

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Collaborative

Bemidji State University candidates understand and value the personal and professional growth that can be achieved through collaborating with others. Collaboration with colleagues and other professionals is an important aspect of today’s educational environment. Students come to school with a wide range of backgrounds, abilities and needs, and teachers are expected to provide an appropriate and meaningful education for all. The likelihood that this can be accomplished increases when colleagues, families, and community members work together and share their expertise and resources.  Neuman and King (2000) suggest that collaboration among professionals is key to meeting expectations placed on schools by society. 

Bemidji State University candidates are proficient in collaboration, as expressed in this report from a cooperating teacher:  

“What I will miss most about [Candidate] is the collaboration we have had.  We have collaboration time each week to work with our team teachers on best practices.  We go over data and teaching strategies as we seek to find data driven solutions to identified weaknesses within our students. [Candidate] has been a strong force and contributor in these meetings” (documentation from cooperating teacher, 2011).

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Technologically Literate

Those graduating from Colleges of Education today are assumed to be skilled in the area of technology.  Teachers and learners need access to the knowledge and connections available through present and emerging technological resources.  At Bemidji State University, technology is not an add-on but rather an integrated strategy throughout our teaching.  Technology standards are integrated into the Standards of Effective Practice courses and faculty are committed to teaching candidates how they can use technology tools with their preK-12 students.

  Bemidji State University candidates use educational technology in their own learning and often take their technological knowledge into their clinical field experiences.  They understand what, how, when and why to use instructional and assistive technology tools and techniques that support teaching and learning.  The integration of technology implies a shift in the role of the teacher toward that of being a “broker” of knowledge and/or resources for learning as outlined in the constructivist philosophy (Persichitte, Cafarella, & Tharp, 1999). Our candidates understand that technology contributes to the learning environment, serves as a resource to address the educational needs of diverse learners, and supports a constructivist approach to teaching and learning.

Classroom teachers often testify about our students’ proficiency in using technology. For example, from a recent student teacher evaluation:

“[Candidate] gave my fellow department members and me some great new ideas about how to incorporate technology into our daily lesson plans to enhance our students’ learning” (documentation from cooperating teacher, 2010).

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Environmentally Aware

Bemidji State University Professional Education statement:

Environmental awareness is a world-view that encompasses several factors.  It is not limited to just the natural environment as living things are interdependent upon one another for both emotional and intellectual survival. Environmental awareness asks us to be present in the moment when in any setting.  Being aware of our environment involves asking who, what, where and when. The “how” asks that we respond to those questions to determine our level of awareness within the environment.  While we are the College in the Pines, we are not just talking about pinecones…we are thinking about the classroom as well and beyond.  It is our responsibility to bring the natural environment into the classroom in such a way that all students are able to participate in a meaningful way.

This inclusive definition challenges faculty and students to consider how to make the environment accessible for all people.  It calls upon students to see beyond the obvious and to meet barriers in a socially and environmentally appropriate way.

Bemidji State University and the citizens in our community value the environment in part because the main campus is close to the natural world.  The Teacher Education program is committed to educating future teachers in environmental literacy for all ages. Environmental education provides a viable mechanism for developing critical thinking skills by (1) providing topics and problems that cut across the school curriculum and that enhance the integration of knowledge, (2) providing real problems that can be studied or simulated, and (3) by providing topics and problems that can be adjusted to the developmental levels of students.  These three purposes support the underlying belief that an application of theory and practice leads to a quality education.

Bemidji State University teacher candidates understand and take leadership responsibility for protecting the natural environment. They are prepared to integrate environmental content into appropriate curriculum for all levels of learners as they realize that the environment’s widespread appeal to students creates opportunities to nurture skills in areas such as language arts, math, science, and social studies.

Embrace, Engage, and Educate

The Bemidji State University teacher candidate is a reflective educator.  Teacher candidates know that identifying strengths and weaknesses and adapting are essential practices for effective educators.   Through faculty modeling and clinical experiences, they see and understand the importance of collaboration; they practice it in the field.

Change is a constant.  The Bemidji State University teacher candidate considers the challenge of change through the lens of environmental awareness.    Proficiency in the areas of technology and collaboration with a dedication to environmental care are the elements of the Conceptual Framework.   We ask teacher candidates to embrace diversity, engage others, and educate.

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