At right is a graphic representation of the Viterbo University Teacher Education Program depicted on a model of the sculpture, “Peace and Harmony,” located on the Viterbo campus. The School of Education views the teacher as a reflective decision maker who uses knowledge from all available sources when making decisions about teaching for optimizing the learning of PK-12 students. The mission of the School of Education is the preparation of teachers who are grounded in Franciscan values and who possess the knowledge, skills and dispositions to be effective classroom decision makers.
The classroom teacher is faced with constant decisions that are made after consideration of knowledge and experiences drawn from a number of sources:
- Liberal Studies and Core Abilities (Thinking, Life Values, Communication, Aesthetic Sensitivity, Cultural Sensitivity, and Community Involvement): this base provides students with the knowledge skills, dispositions, and core abilities developed in each of the traditional liberal arts disciplines.
- Wisconsin/INTASC Standards: these standards are immersed into every facet of the Teacher Education Program in both theory and practice (coursework, experiences, and performance assessment).
- Content and Pedagogical Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions: these essential bases which the teacher must use in making instructional decisions are developed through the teaching content area(s) and education courses.
- Franciscan Values: these values are woven throughout the fabric of the university and the Teacher Education Program and serve as mortar for the liberal studies base. They are gained through observing institutional traditions and experienced through living and learning in the Viterbo environment. These values are: Visionary Leadership, Respect for Human Dignity, Affirmation of Life and Joy, and Service with Earth Family. Programs offered by the university reinforce these values through the overall philosophy that all members of the institution attempt to model.
Thus, the Viterbo model is one which includes liberal studies, core abilities, WI/INTASC Standards, and content and pedagogical knowledge, skills, and dispositions woven with Franciscan values The specialty studies component of each of the teacher education programs is created by building on, enhancing or extending the knowledge skills and dispositions contained within the Wisconsin Standards for Teacher Development and Licensure.
Through the Wisconsin Standards for Teaching Development and Licensure and the Franciscan values inherent in the Viterbo experience, students develop reflective teaching practices which prepare them for the teaching profession. The field experience and student teaching provides the prospective teacher with the “real world” in which to observe, evaluate and practice what is learned in the other components of the program.
In addition, the graphic representation of the conceptual framework reflects emphasis on PK-12 collaboration, constructivist practices, field and clinical experiences, technology enhanced instruction, diversity, and evolving performance assessment methodologies such as developmental portfolios and Teacher Work Sample (TWS). These elements permeate the philosophy and delivery of the Teacher Education Program and affect candidates’ impact on positive PK-12 learning.
The goal of the Viterbo University Teacher Education Program is to prepare a beginning teacher/practitioner who is able to “think on his/her feet,” bringing together all his or her knowledge and experience to make the best classroom decisions to help all PK-12 students learn. Once those decisions are made and implemented, the teacher will continue to use that decision-making information and experience to inform future decision making. This process is referred to as reflective decision making.