Tag: Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation

Message from the Dean

Laurie Elish-Piper

Laurie Elish-Piper

Like many, I find myself in awe of the #NeverAgain students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Their resiliency and courage in the face of tragedy, coupled with their willingness to speak up, have affirmed my confidence in the future. These amazing young people are informed, intelligent and eloquent, and they are trying to make a positive change in this country.

Images and video of the March for Our Lives, which drew those students and countless thousands of young people to the streets of Washington, D.C., and their hometowns from coast to coast March 24, brilliantly illustrated the depth of their resolve and the urgency of their call to action.

Of course, their voices also serve to remind me of the importance of one our main roles here: preparing teachers at all levels along with principals, counselors, superintendents and others who work in and around schools.

Caring, talented and responsive educators are profoundly critical in helping schools rise above and prosper in these challenging times.

Even if we in higher education feel sad, or worried for the future of our schools, we cannot ignore what’s happening as we prepare our students for the reality of today’s schools. That’s why we’re working with the Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation to incorporate safety training protocols into our programs now.

clin-2While these are challenging times, our students who plan to become teachers are passionate about teaching.

They are passionate about wanting to make a positive difference in the lives of their students, their families and their communities. They understand the enormous demands of teaching today, but they are eager to get started making the world a better place through education.

Our job, therefore, is to ensure that our curriculum is current and relevant; that we provide the support our students need to succeed; and that we are strategic and efficient as we face significant financial challenges.

As you might have read in January, NIU anticipates a gap of up to 8 percent between projected revenues and expenses.

I have worked closely with the College of Education Senate to build a college budget that focuses mainly on generating revenue but also reduces spending in ways that we believe will have limited impact on students, faculty and staff.

Our goal when creating the budget has been to remain academically responsive and fiscally responsible. We believe that we have proposed ways to steady the ship, and we expect that senior leaders in Altgeld Hall will provide us with a budget update in the very near future.

strategic-frameworkFor our part, we are ahead of the curve. We continue to make progress on our Strategic Action Planning Framework as department chairs work with me to review their action plans and the Senate identifies the metrics to measure our work.

Meanwhile, we are collaborating with our colleagues in the Division of Enrollment Management, Marketing and Communications to promote our programs; this includes online advertising campaigns for three of our online graduate programs as well as the BSAM-ITTE. We’ve also embarked on a website update that features a more dynamic homepage along with more customized navigation within our departmental websites.

Our rich partnership with EMMC also brought a busload of high school students from Future Teachers Clubs in Elgin Area School District U-46 to campus March 22. They and their teachers were so impressed with our academic programs, our engaged learning opportunities and the friendly and welcoming climate on our campus.

While not on a bus, Judy Schneider, our director of Advancement, and I have been traveling to share our mission with alumni and donors.

We recently visited Florida to renew and build strong relationships and to talk about the amazing things going on here.

Judy just visited alumni in Arizona, she and I had a wonderful lunch meeting with alumni in Lake Forest and we hosted an event for nearly 20 alumni in Palm Desert, California, last weekend. There are so many great stories to share about the inspirational work and accomplishments of our students, faculty and staff.

We also are hoping to energize our retired faculty – and ourselves – Tuesday, April 10, through an event prior to the Community Learning Series. We have personally invited our retired faculty to join us that afternoon to socialize and to learn about what we’re doing in the college before we adjourn to enjoy the panel discussion.

one-word-cloudI hope to see many of you there for a night that I’m sure will inspire our work as the semester races to a close in just a few short weeks.

You might also remember that “inspire” is my “one word” for 2018, and I’m enjoying my progress in that goal. I’m inspired daily by the amazing work you are doing to teach, mentor and serve our students; to conduct and disseminate important research; and to provide service to the college, university, community and professional associations. I’d love to know how your “one words” are shaping your lives this year, so please stop me in the hall, send me a message or stop by the office to share your stories.

I am deeply grateful for all you do to make the College of Education such a wonderful place to teach, learn, work and serve.

My best,

Laurie



College of Education maintains nearly perfect edTPA pass rates

Sarah Paver

Sarah Paver

When Sarah Paver began her student-teaching class last August, the graduate student in Physical Education quickly became concerned.

“I was very nervous when the edTPA came up,” says Paver, who graduated in December. “A lot of my classmates had said that they had read the handbook over the summer. I didn’t look at anything until September.”

No problem, though.

The now-NIU alumna aced the edTPA with a score of 66 – 37 points or more is considered passing – to earn the highest Fall 2017 mark of any teacher-licensure student across the NIU campus.

Licensure candidates in the College of Education itself posted a 97 percent passage rate last semester, with nearly all of the 70 undergraduate and graduate students who submitted materials earning stamps of approval.

Passage of the edTPA, which measures a teacher-candidate’s abilities in planning, instruction and assessment, is required to obtain teacher licensure in Illinois and several other states.

Candidates must submit video of their actual teaching of between three and five lessons along with follow-up evidence that their students were learning and achieving. Candidates also must supply examples of further support they provided to students and subsequent plans for future teaching based on the earlier assessment.

For Paver, described by a former professor as “focused, hard-working, well-rounded and really warm and good with kids,” the road to edTPA victory was paved in sections.

edtpa-logo“Once I buckled down, I really conquered it one step at a time,” she says. “I did Task One in one week. I just spent one entire week filming.”

Subsequent steps came after short breaks. “Once I finished one task, I didn’t jump right into the next because it was so easy to burn out,” she says. “If I didn’t put it away and not touch it for a couple days, it could be super-overwhelming.”

Although her submission was complete and ready by the end of October, she held on to it. “We still had two weeks before we had to submit, so I went back and reviewed everything,” she says.

Jim Ressler, professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, says the motivation of NIU College of Education students to teach fuels their continued edTPA success.

“They understand that their ability to acquire teacher-licensure in Illinois rests on a passing edTPA score, along with all of the other degree requirements we have in the program, so they take it seriously,” Ressler says. “They understand that being an effective teacher includes the things that the edTPA asks of them, which reinforces the things we believe are important.”

Jim Ressler

Jim Ressler

For example, he adds, “that includes having very clear and dynamic lesson plans. It includes trying to meet the needs of every students. It includes supporting your decisions as a teacher with meaningful data from across all learning domains.”

“Because the edTPA is a performance-based assessment, our candidates are being asked to demonstrate more than what they have learned in their teacher-training programs,” adds Jennifer Johnson, the College of Education’s director of teacher preparation and development.

“They are being asked to demonstrate an understanding of teaching and learning within their own context, their own student-teaching experience. This is something that faculty have prepared them for throughout their coursework and early field clinical experiences,” she says. “NIU College of Education faculty are engaged in the process of preparing exemplary teacher-candidates, and I believe that our candidates’ edTPA results reflect that.”

Paver logged her student-teaching hours at Old Post Elementary School in Oswego. She chose lessons in catching-and-throwing for her video submissions, later measuring student achievement in cognitive, psychomotor and affective domains.

“My cooperating teacher there, Robin Ormsbee, was a great resource for me,” Paver says. “She also videotaped me.”

Children provided hard information on comprehension through a written test with questions on offensive and defensive strategies and the difference between the two.

Jennifer Johnson

Jennifer Johnson

They also demonstrated their skills for Paver before, during and after her lessons as she walked among them for first-hand observation. She also watched for signs of respect of their classmates and ability to take constructive criticism, factors that satisfied the affective domain.

“I really enjoyed Oswego and the elementary and junior high schools. I really enjoyed the consistency of teaching full time. It’s the first time I’ve had that, considering clinicals are only an hour a day,” she says.

“I also enjoyed getting to know the students,” she adds. “It was quite sad to leave. You build such great relationships with the kids and the cooperating teachers.”

Paver isn’t sure when she’ll enter the gymnasium again.

Currently using her bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training at an OSF HealthCare centers in Ottawa and Mendota, she is open to Physical Education jobs that would begin in the fall and keep her close to home in her native Big Rock, Ill.

“I’m very happy with the job I have right now,” she says, “but I think that my eyes are always open for teaching positions if the right teaching job came along. I really enjoy the middle- and high-school age, and would love to continue.”

gym-ballsMeanwhile, the future teacher has lessons for NIU students still facing the edTPA.

“Conquer in chunks. Focus on one task at a time. Videotape sooner than later. Task One is videotaping, and you just can’t hold it off until the last minute.”

Also, she says, don’t miss the opportunity to solicit support from classmates. “Our student-teaching class met every two weeks,” she says. “I would make sure I had each task completed before I went to class so I could ask good questions.”

Help is also always available from Judy Boisen, the Office of Educator Licensure and Preparation’s full-time edTPA coordinator.

“Judy is someone we’ve asked to make guest appearances in two or three of our program seminars each semester,” Ressler says. “Our students know Judy. She’s been an incredible resource.”