Students Quickly Engaged in new Program

Student voices heard

Published: March 1, 2014
By: John Mielke
When faculty, staff and community partners began developing the new teacher preparation program at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, there were a number of key goals. Three of the most important now help define the mission and vision for what is quickly being recognized as a regional and national model for developing knowledgeable, responsive professional educators:
  • construct an innovative system of career-long educator development; 
  • meet the needs of regional school districts; and
  • respond to the changing demands of the profession.

The new teacher preparation program, part of the university's Institute of Professional Educator Development, is designed to prepare effective educators who understand the challenges of today's classrooms and are able to work toward making the most of tomorrow's opportunities.

Enrollment in the previous program was closed in 2010 to enable a collaborative design process. Students were admitted to the new program and classes began in fall 2013 in a program that promises to:

  • provide a collaborative advising structure and guide to licensure;
  • ensure classroom-based experiences with expert practitioners;
  • present best practices and emerging research in education;
  • develop professional expertise;
  • prepare students for a challenging and rewarding career; and
  • support educational development throughout an educator's career.

Current licensure programs are offered at the early adolescence through adolescence development level (EA-A, grades 6-12) in the following areas:

  • English/language arts;
  • biological science;
  • chemistry;
  • geography;
  • geosciences;
  • history;
  • mathematics;
  • political science; and
  • sociology.

What may have come as a surprise to new students was how quickly they would be engaged in the educational process.

Kelsey Armour, a senior and one of the first students in the new program, was chosen to represent her class to help with the selection of new faculty. "That made me feel like I was involved and that I had a say and could make a difference," Armour said.

She was also asked to assist with the design of a new student-study area. "They're showing us that our ideas and thoughts matter," she said. "Eventually, we will be teachers and, in my opinion, they are working to ease us out of the mindset that we are just students."

Armour described faculty in the new program as dedicated. "They want to make this program work," Armour said. "And we can see that in class. It makes us feel excited to be part of the teaching process and a part of the program."

One pillar of the new program is getting students out of the university classroom and into K-12 classroom earlier in the process.

"I've already done teaching in the field," Armour said. "This semester, I will be working toward my certificate in co-teaching. Eventually, I will be working with a teacher in the classroom, and I won't just be sitting and watching. I'll be more involved."

Learn more at the Institute of Professional Educator Development.

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