Mission and Guiding Principles
We envision a world in which children in Southern Arizona have access to high quality education.
The award-winning Masters in Secondary Education Alternative Path Program at The University of Arizona is committed to preparing teachers with the dispositions and skills to work for middle and high school students in Arizona and Arizona border schools. Our context-specific focus on preparing teachers for the borderlands of Arizona involves developing in candidates an appreciation for their students' and their own racial/ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic status. Thus, critical analyses of the emerging teachers’ sociocultural, sociopolitical, and socioeconomic positionality are central for those in the program. In addition, interrogations of power in school settings occur across the program’s curriculum. This work is accomplished by knitting together clinical experience in partner schools with carefully crafted coursework. New teacher learning is supported by a robust professional learning community of peer learners and teacher leaders in our partner schools.
Our Guiding Principles
- Constructivism: Constructivist learning theory informs the structure and content of our courses and our approach to teaching and learning. Whenever possible, faculty model constructivist teaching practice in their own courses.
- Equity Literacy: Equity Literacy is an “approach to diversity or multiculturalism that relies more on teachers' understandings of equity and inequity and of justice and injustice than on their understanding of this or that culture. The idea is to place equity rather than culture at the center of the diversity conversation.”
- Teaching and Learning: The commitment to teaching ensures that courses in the program are centered on student learning and carefully designed to prepare emerging teachers with the skills they need to begin teaching.
- Partnerships: Deep partnerships with local schools and the participation of local master teachers in the preparation of teaching interns ensures a robust democratic learning community that models classroom practices for emerging teachers.
- Context-specific Preparation: Coursework content and pedagogy are directed at school-embedded practices in partner border schools. The context-specific conceptual framework informs the program design and the content of coursework.
- Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A focus on pedagogical content knowledge supports emerging teachers’ ability to translate deep content knowledge into classroom learning.
- Action Research. Participatory action research is the research framework used in the program, which prepares teachers to adopt a stance of inquiry in their own classrooms. Action research can also be used in the classroom with middle and high school students, referred to as, “Youth Participatory Action Research.”
- Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy: Culturally sustaining pedagogy seeks to sustain linguistic, literate, and cultural pluralism as part of the democratic project of schooling.
- Teacher Leadership: The commitment to preparing teachers to be leaders informs the structure of work teaching interns do and also develops a collaborative learning community with an emphasis on peer-to-peer learning and coaching.
Our Commitment to Students
The work of the program focuses on borderlands, with work taking place throughout Southern Arizona. This context demands a critical interrogation of the politically complex and rich linguistic, cultural, and bi-national communities we serve. As the U.S. becomes a more multicultural country, the understandings and dispositions teaching interns develop in the program will serve them well, wherever they choose to teach.