Architects of Change Conceptual Framework

Educators as Architects of Change

Graduates of the John H. Lounsbury College of Education, both graduate and undergraduate, take their places as Architects of Change in the public school systems of Georgia, working in the interest of all young people. While preserving the best of our liberal arts heritage, our graduates are equipped with the intellectual and social skills they need in order to serve as advocates for all PK-12 students.

The Educators as Architects of Change Model

In 1996, the faculty adopted the model, "Educators as Architects of Change" to guide our curricular and instructional decisions. Educators as Architects of Change is a model that exemplifies our dedication to careful, reflective and purposeful improvement of schools through the preparation of professional educators. The Architects of Change model demonstrates our belief that effective educators require a discrete set of skills, including the ability to advocate for students, to become mentors and leaders within schools, and to reflect on the meaning of the social practices they find in schools. Our faculty reaffirms its utility, distilling our commitment to the principles of reasoned, artful and purposeful improvement of schooling.                                           

Conceptual Framework

The faculty of the John H. Lounsbury College of Education believes that our schools must fulfill the educational needs of our populace while emphasizing fairness, democracy, and intellectual curiosity.  Amid a climate of change and uncertainty, we inspire educators to create student-centered learning environments as the primary expression of strong pedagogy. We use the Educators as Architects of Change model to guide the development of an inclusive and diverse community of stakeholders, consisting of students, educators, educator candidates, and the public.

Since the inception of Educators as Architects of Change as our guiding principle, the faculty has continually reassessed our programs. Informed by research and reflective analysis, we have continued our intensive cohort model for our undergraduate programs as well as some of our graduate programs.  We motivate professional educators to reach out to stakeholders to develop citizens who value formal education, literacy in its many forms, and individual differences.

This framework is designed to produce change agents, based on the following core principles:

  • the Liberal Arts and integrated learning
  • professional preparation
  • human relationships and diversity
  • leadership for learning and teaching communities.

In its programs of study, the Georgia College (GC) faculty affirms the importance of programs that situate educators as researchers, leaders, and Architects of Change in the schools and the larger community.

Liberal Arts and Integrated Learning

The Architects of Change model demands that our graduates understand themselves as both "doing" and "thinking" about their professional practice (Hutton, 2006). We seek to preserve the intellectual commitments of the liberal arts college: "to pose questions to the world, and to reflect on what is presented in experience" (Greene, 1998, p. 21). We see development as encompassing the cognitive, emotional, moral and civic dimensions found in the liberal arts.  

Professional Preparation

Educator candidates in most of GC's professional educator programs join cohorts of peers, allowing them to learn from and interact with each other in intensive, field-based courses.  Integral to the cohort is a mentor leader who acts as a role model, advisor, and facilitator of learning for each student.  Consequently, faculty and students both live education grounded in action, community, and collaboration.  Through participation in our programs, educator candidates not only acquire a strong foundation in major content and pedagogical areas, but also learn to connect theory to practice by applying and conducting classroom research. 
We recognize that "skilled teachers are the most crucial of all schooling inputs" (Ferguson, 1991, p. 490).Our field-based cohort model serves as a powerful vehicle to integrate theory and practice by fostering close collaboration among faculty, educator candidates and professionals in the field. We understand teaching to be complex, requiring systematic reflection on practice. In order to become true Architects of Change, educators must go beyond simple bureaucratic solutions, learning to make instructional and curricular decisions based exigencies of real life in schools (Darling-Hammond, 1997).

Human Relationships and Diversity

Building upon strong liberal arts, professional and pedagogical bases, educator candidates in the GC professional education programs are encouraged to construct a well-grounded framework for appropriately addressing human relations and diversity issues in schools. As democratic educators, we understand schooling to be part of the real world and part of children's lives. "We share the knowledge gained in classrooms beyond those settings, thereby working to challenge the construction of knowledge as always and only available to the elite" (hooks, 2003, p. 41) Our educator candidates are exposed to theory and practice that foster the belief that all students can learn and should be treated as individuals with unique and various needs, skills, talents, interests, histories, and beliefs. As Architects of Change, educator candidates learn to design inclusive, culturally sensitive and relevant learning experiences in order to create learning communities in which all people are respected and appreciated, and in which academic achievement, positive intergroup relations, and critical consciousness are expected.

Leadership for Learning and Teaching Communities

By modeling successful teaching, questioning assumptions, and posing challenging problems, instructors in the GC professional education programs encourage educator candidates to construct their own understanding of education. In this way, candidates may feel empowered to continue learning throughout their lives, to be flexible in adapting to difficulties, to imagine creative solutions, to communicate effectively, and to take necessary risks in meeting future needs. The professional preparation programs seek to create empowered educational leaders who have the ability to cultivate partnerships within the schools and community, act as advocates for the students under their care, and collaborate with others to creatively solve problems and make decisions. Our programs foster commitment to equity and social justice, and provide students the opportunity to develop as leaders and Architects of Change. 

Darling-Hammond, L. (1997). The right to learn. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Ferguson, R. (1991). Paying for public education: New evidence on how and why money matters. Harvard Journal on Legislation, 28(2), 465-498.

Greene, M. (1988). The dialectic of freedom. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Hooks, B. (2003) Teaching community: A pedagogy of hope. Philadelphia, PA: Taylor and Francis, Inc.

Hutton, T. (2006). The conflation of liberal & professional education: Pipedream, aspiration, or nascent reality?  Liberal Education, 92(4), 54-59.

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INTASC’s approach to creating standards is based on a holistic conception of career development for teaching professionals. It aims not only to “describe rigorous expectations for beginning teachers, but also to lay out the elements for competent entry-level practice in a way that ensures consistency with emerging visions of accomplished teaching” (Ambach, 1996). In that way, the standards describe goals toward which teachers can work throughout their careers to achieve excellence in their profession. These INTASC standards provide the foundation for our initial program in professional educator preparation.

The GC Faculty of Educator Preparation has chosen the phrase Educators as Architects of Change to be the conceptual framework for the professional experience offered by this institution. This framework is constructed upon a professional knowledge base which focuses on the following four core concepts: I) Foundation in Liberal Arts, II) Foundation in Professional Preparation, III) Foundation for Addressing Human Relations and Diversity Issues, and IV) Development of Dynamic Leadership Abilities.

I. FOUNDATION IN LIBERAL ARTS

The GC Professional Education Program, fulfilling the university’s liberal arts mission, will build upon a strong liberal arts curriculum. The collaboration among Faculty of Educator Preparation, comprised of faculty from Arts and Sciences, Health Sciences, and Education, ensures success of the Professional Education programs. Students stand to benefit from such collaboration as they will take into the classroom an understanding of various academic disciplines and of the ways that different areas of knowledge interact. They will be familiar with the different ways of knowing so that they can think analytically, synthetically, creatively, and systemically and encourage these processes in their students. They will develop the art of creative inquiry to be able to identify problems and seek effective, creative solutions. They will learn to evaluate their own thought processes, understand their own assumptions, and practice introspection in order to develop a sense of inner values. A liberal arts curriculum is designed to broaden students’ perspectives on the world around them. With this foundation, students in the GC Professional Education Programs will gain the capacity to balance all elements of education as they move from awareness to understanding to action in their classrooms and communities.

II. FOUNDATION IN PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION

Building on the cornerstone of liberal arts, the GC Professional Education Program will strive to create a balance between pedagogy and subject matter. GC Faculty of Educator Preparation relies on the rich mutual relationships with its Partner Schools and Professional Development Schools to ensure the achievement of this balance. It is in the professional program that students will engage in “the upward spiral of learning to teach, with all the pain, confusion, regression, joy, and integration embedded in the process (Hollingsworth, 1992, p. 374).[c1] ” Professional education students will immerse themselves in intensive, field-based courses designed to facilitate high levels of professional development. Within this process, students will create their own philosophies of education and the tools needed to develop the skills of their profession. They will gain knowledge about educational and community resources, laws and public policy pertaining to education, and basic content matter in educational disciplines. Students will become knowledgeable about classroom management skills, teaching strategies, and professional ethics. They will learn how to acquire information sources and to integrate technology into the curriculum to enhance the learning experiences of all children.

Students will not only be challenged to have a strong foundation in major content and pedagogical areas; they will also be invited to learn how to connect theory and practice by applying research in the classroom. Students will learn how to make connections between areas of knowledge and ways of living. The ability to make global connections will enable GC graduates to be architects of change within the education system and in the greater community.

III. FOUNDATION FOR ADDRESSING HUMAN RELATIONS AND DIVERSITY ISSUES

Building upon their strong liberal arts and professional/pedagogical base, students in the GC Professional Education Programs will be encouraged to construct a well-grounded framework for appropriately addressing human relations and diversity issues in schools. They will be exposed to theory and practice that foster the belief that all pupils can learn and should be treated as individuals with unique and various needs, skills, talents, interests, histories, and beliefs. They will learn to design inclusive, culturally sensitive, and relevant learning experiences and to create learning communities in which diverse people are respected and appreciated, and in which academic achievement, positive intergroup relations, and critical consciousness are expected.

IV. DEVELOPMENT OF DYNAMIC LEADERSHIP ABILITIES

By modeling successful teaching, questioning assumptions, and posing challenging problems, instructors in the GC Professional Education Programs will encourage students to construct their own understanding of education. Thus, students will feel empowered to continue learning throughout life, to be flexible in adapting to difficulties, to imagine creative solutions, to communicate effectively, and to take necessary risks in meeting future needs. Based on these concepts, the professional preparation program will create empowered educational leaders who have the ability to cultivate partnerships within the schools and community, while collaborating with others to creatively solve problems and make decisions about the current educational climate and future trends in education. They will be architects of change who are prepared and eager to meet the challenges that await them.

The Initial Educator Preparation Program

Incorporated throughout the professional preparation program will be an emphasis on the development of leadership qualities. The qualities of risk-taking and effective communication will be stressed in the undergraduate program. Educators must enter the classroom prepared to deal with any situation, and they must be able to communicate clearly and accurately with the students, parents and colleagues in their schools. The goal of the professional preparation program is to produce dynamic leaders who will become advocates for education and architects of change in their communities.

The initial educator preparation program at GC centers on the preparation of educators to be ready to accept the challenges that await them in their first professional experience. This is accomplished through solid foundations in the following areas which are associated with the four core concepts.

1.  A strong liberal arts knowledge base

The mission of GC is to provide a strong foundation in liberal arts. All individuals accepted into the GC Professional Education Programs will enter with a foundation in interdisciplinary understanding, aesthetic appreciation, and the ability to assimilate knowledge through analysis of information and creative inquiry. 

2.  Field experience

Upon admission to the GC Professional Education Programs, students will immediately embark on a journey of field-based experiences. Classes will incorporate field-based assignments within diverse schools. Students will be guided through their classroom experiences by experienced educators working in collaboration with GC's Partnership Program with P-12 schools. Through field experiences, students will develop a sense of empowerment that will allow them to enter their first classroom with confidence that they can make a difference in the lives of their students. 

3.  Sensitivity to Diversity

All components of the professional preparation program will assert the creation of an environment of respect and rapport where all students are valued for their individual differences as reflected in the professional education student’s instructional and assessment practices. Beginning educators who enter the profession as architects of change will know that the power to change society’s sensitivity to diversity will start in their own classroom. 

4.  Integration of Knowledge to the Teaching Experience

It is not enough for educators to have in-depth knowledge of a subject; the art of teaching is being able to engage students in learning by using the pedagogical techniques particular to different disciplines. Through the innovative use of technology and their engagement with the wide range of human diverse experiences, beginning educators-as-architects of change will inspire the achievement of all students. The professional preparation program will guide students in learning how to make connections between content and other disciplines and to develop skills, which reflect current research in pedagogical practices. 

5.  Evaluation and Reflection

The ability to evaluate and reflect on one’s teaching is the mark of a true professional. Through ongoing professional reflection, students will develop a heightened awareness of their role as architects of change. Students will be evaluated throughout their educational process by experienced educators during their field-based experiences as well as by instructors in the classroom. As reflective practitioners, students will become more attuned to the needs of each learner. They will also be taught to evaluate their own effectiveness in the classroom and to reflect on the extent to which they have achieved their goals and possibilities for alternative approaches. The ongoing professional development and reflection will culminate in a final assessment portfolio which reveals each student’s achievement as a professional educator. 

6.  Professional Preparation

The acceptance of educators as professionals who deserve respect for their knowledge and opinions is dependent on the degree of professionalism exhibited in both educational and community environments. Students will be given a strong foundation in classroom management skills, educational laws, educational technology, resources, and professional ethics, and they will be given opportunities to exercise the use of professional judgment during their field-based experiences. They will leave this program with the understanding that educators who are viewed as professionals will be empowered by their schools and communities to be architects of change. 

7. Dynamic Leadership in the Classroom

Incorporated throughout the professional preparation program will be an emphasis on the development of leadership qualities. The qualities of risk-taking and effective communication will be stressed in the undergraduate program. Educators must enter the classroom prepared to deal with any situation, and they must be able to communicate clearly and accurately with the students, parents and colleagues in their schools. The goal of the professional preparation program is to produce dynamic leaders who will become advocates for education and architects of change in their communities. 

Ambach, G. (1996). Standards for Teachers. Phi Delta Kappan, 78(3), 207-210.

In accordance with the standards of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), accomplished teaching is characterized by one’s ability to integrate knowledge, assessment, and reflection and to demonstrate dedication to students and the learning community. By establishing these standards of excellence for experienced educators, the NBPTS seeks to improve student learning in America’s schools and heighten professionalism within the field of teaching. It is on these standards that the advanced program is predicated.

The Advanced Educator Preparation Program at GC incorporates the view of education as an ongoing effort that is never completed. Educators who are committed to growing and developing professionally must invest energy in staying informed and increasing their skills. The advanced educator education program encourages educators to become mentors and advisors to beginning educators, innovative leaders in their schools and communities, and architects of change in the systems that govern local, state, and national education. These goals are accomplished through strong foundations in the following seven areas:

I. Extended Knowledge

Students in the advanced educator preparation program will be given opportunities to add depth and breadth to their existing knowledge base. Development in pedagogy creates opportunities for educators to continually improve their practice. Instructional materials and resources are constantly changing, as are the diverse needs of all learners, challenging educators to learn new technologies and incorporate them into innovative teaching techniques. The emphasis on educators as architects of change places significance on taking advantage of all opportunities to extend an educator’s basic knowledge foundation.

II. Professional Knowledge and Application

Students in the advanced educator preparation program will be challenged to apply theory to practice. They will be guided to practice and improve their professional skills and to experiment and change their professional practices based on the application of advanced educational theories.

III. Sensitivity to Diversity within the Classroom, Community, and Society

Education is a matter of relationships among diverse individuals. These relationships should be grounded in a sensitivity to the diversity of individuals within the classroom, community, and society. Educators who openly express and model respect for individual differences will be able to build bridges within the community. The advanced educator preparation program will challenge educators to positively impact society’s understanding and acceptance of all individuals.

IV. Professional Organization and Mentoring Novices 

Students in the advanced educator preparation program will be encouraged to develop their roles as professionals, to explore their professional strengths and weaknesses and to organize their philosophies of education and classroom experience in a manner that will be beneficial to those just beginning the teaching process. They will learn how to be mentors to novices in ways which will benefit both educator and student alike.

V. Theory and Research 

Just as beginning educators will learn from those in the advanced educator preparation program, graduates will be taught to seek information from master teachers and researchers. They will become skilled in seeking information from research articles and professional presentations; they will also be encouraged to conduct research in their classrooms and make the results known to their colleagues through conference presentation or articles.

VI. Communication and Advocacy 

Students in the advanced educator preparation program will be taught the skills needed to communicate with families and leaders in the community in regard to individual students and/or needs of the school. Educators will learn how to engage families and the community in the instructional program and to advocate for individual students when appropriate.

VII. Dynamic Leadership 

As with the basic educator preparation program, emphasis will be placed on endowing practicing educators with dynamic leadership capabilities. The focus in the advanced educator preparation program, however, will be on creating educators who will serve as role models in the educational, professional, and social communities and who will model the benefits of education by becoming lifelong learners.