Mission and Shared Vision of The School of Education

In keeping with the historical mission of the College, the School of Education provides access to the field of education for all those who show promise of contributing to New York City schools and the education of the City's children, regardless of national origin, home language, or economic condition.
The preparation of teachers in the United States is intended to meet the needs of a democratic society. In New York City, this is extended to preparing educators to work with students who are diverse in all respects. To that end, the School seeks to draw on the varied strengths of candidates while ensuring that they acquire the academic, pedagogical, technological, professional, and personal skills required of an educator in an urban setting. The School commits itself to ensuring that its graduates can demonstrate solid grounding in the liberal arts and sciences, a deep understanding of public purposes of education in a democracy, thorough training in effective teaching skills, and the professional and affective dispositions to work successfully with students, families, and colleagues in the field.
The School focuses on five themes to ensure coherence across its curriculum, instruction, field experience, and assessment:
  • Content knowledge
  • Pedagogical knowledge
  • Diversity
  • Leadership
  • Building of caring communities.

Developing In-Depth Knowledge About the World

Candidates preparing to work in schools in teaching or supervisory roles demonstrate the content knowledge and skills necessary to help all students learn. All the College’s programs attempt to meet national and professional standards of content, rigor, and coherence. This knowledge is found in the liberal arts and sciences and is presented with the most up-to-date technology. Indeed, there is a consensus of educators, from progressives to traditionalists, that literature, history, philosophy, mathematics, natural science, foreign languages, and art and music must be part of a university curriculum.
To that end, the institution requires a core curriculum emanating from its College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The School adopts and enhances this curriculum by requiring of its candidates additional math and science courses. Undergraduate candidates, in addition to their pedagogical courses, must complete an academic major or concentration. (In addition to these requirements, pedagogical courses echo the content of the liberal arts core and concentrations. Philosophy, history, mathematics, and English are part of these courses.)
Content knowledge is demonstrated in teaching methods courses: e.g. language arts, social studies, math and science. In these courses, candidates are introduced to State learning standards at the level appropriate to the certification they seek. Through use of content knowledge, candidates must be able to determine the widest and deepest potential knowledge base of each of their students with the accompanying strategies that range from direct instruction to inquiry so the student can, from textual and electronic sources, obtain, rehearse, recall, and transfer new knowledge to routine and new learning contexts. Knowledge of students and pedagogy goes hand-in-hand with content knowledge.
The seven knowledge areas of a university curriculum, listed above, have value in themselves, a value that education and liberal arts faculty communicate, deliberately and in passing, even in pedagogical courses. These faculties work together on curriculum and search committees. Only if they share and transmit the value of these knowledge areas will candidates develop a disposition to continue experiencing these and participate in lifelong learning. If they are not disposed to recognize this value they will not be able to pass it on to their students.
The target for teacher and other professional candidates with regard to content includes in-depth knowledge of the subject matter to be taught or supervised including the methods of the discipline that determine what becomes knowledge. Candidates demonstrate this knowledge through inquiry, critical analysis, and synthesis of the subjects they plan to teach. Some are able to meet target levels of performance by graduation from the programs of the School. Others, at that point in their development as educators, meet, at least, acceptable levels. But all graduates have the basic tools, technology, and necessary dispositions to continue their development as educational professionals as well as learners. In order to ultimately meet target levels of performance, our graduates will have to continue to develop their content as well as their professional knowledge.

Becoming Skilled, Reflective Practitioners

Teacher competence is obviously a primary influence on student learning. Critical dimensions of competence are pedagogical knowledge and skills. The School of Education adds to this the knowledge and skills to be a successful educator in urban schools that serve a diverse population of children and families and the disposition to use these to promote the learning of all children. In order to articulate the School’s purposes and goals, pedagogical competence is divided into six subcategories:
  1. Knowledge of human learning and development. In coursework, candidates build their pedagogical knowledge on a foundation of learning and developmental theory in tandem with practice in fieldwork. Candidates observe students in an educational and cultural context.
  2. Knowledge of constructivism and inquiry learning. In coursework and fieldwork, candidates learn how to provide students with opportunities to explore, inquire, discover, and problem-solve. Candidates apply knowledge by gradually implementing a wider range of instructional practices in the field with diverse groups of students.
  3. Knowledge of pedagogical (including behavioral) approaches to working with students with special needs. Candidates, whether in special education or not, recognize that they may be called upon to work in inclusion classrooms and engage in culturally responsive teaching. As well as experiencing constructivist and inquiry models, candidates investigate complementary models for students with special needs.
  4. Knowledge of the use of instructional technology for teaching, learning, and assessment. The School promotes the skillful use of instructional and communications technology with a predominantly "across the curriculum" approach based on the recognition that technology must be used to support student learning.
  5. The knowledge and ability to put into practice both multiple teaching strategies and approaches to assessment that build on the knowledge and strengths that students bring to school and allow for differentiated instruction for diverse learners. Based on their knowledge and experiences with cultural differences, candidates integrate multiple strategies in the preparation of lessons and fieldwork. They are introduced to formal and informal assessment devices in foundation courses and, in succeeding course and fieldwork experiences, become comfortable with a wide range of assessment strategies.
  6. Application of knowledge and skills through sequenced experiences in the field. Through sequenced fieldwork, candidates grow in their ability to apply the skills and knowledge learned. Fieldwork culminates in a carefully monitored semester of student teaching or, in the case of graduate students, a practicum in which they engage in a formal inquiry into their teaching practice.

Educating for and about Diversity

The great strength of City College is the diversity of its candidates and faculty. As a public institution, the College has in place a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of age, color, disability, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran or marital status. As a campus situated at the center of one of the world’s most diverse metropolises, the College enjoys the opportunity of making that policy a living reality.
The School of Education subscribes wholeheartedly to the goal of full inclusion and so works continuously to ensure that the diversity of the New York City population, and particularly of the surrounding local community of upper Manhattan, is reflected in the make-up of the faculty and in the perspectives, concerns, and materials taken up throughout the curriculum. Access to education and to careers in teaching for the widest possible representation across the City’s population is central to the School’s mission but, at the same time, a wider variety of educational options is often available to the economically more advantaged. In this light, the School and the College seek especially to provide access to those who are economically disadvantaged. Mechanisms to provide such access include low tuition, financial aid, academic support services, and scheduling of classes to accommodate students who work.
The School views the diversity of students and faculty, defined in its widest sense, not just as an obligation but as an educational resource. While an emphasis on multiculturalism does prepare learners for the diversity of the world outside the classroom, a diverse classroom actually brings that reality into the educational process itself. In a true community of learners, where each member contributes to the learning process, it must be the case that greater diversity of lived experience among the learners results in a richer learning experience for the community. For the School of Education candidate, diversity is more than a fact of the world, something about which the candidate must learn; it is a fact of the candidate’s own classroom, something through which the candidate can learn. It is the responsibility of faculty to draw upon the diversity of the school to enrich the learning processes of all candidates, a practice that serves as a model for candidates in their own teaching.
The School is continuously working towards finding ways to promote understanding across experiential divides. Particularly where native cultures, languages, and dialects differ from candidate to candidate, candidate to instructor, and faculty member to faculty member, it is a challenge to appreciate and accurately assess the value of another’s contribution. It is also a challenge to prepare candidates to meet the demands of state and professional assessment instruments, which may not always be sufficiently sensitive to cultural and linguistic differences. The School strives to meet these demands without sacrificing either academic rigor or cultural and linguistic pluralism.

Nurturing Leadership for Learning

  1. General preparation. Our goal is to develop the capabilities of candidates to assume leadership roles in their classrooms, schools, and communities. Whether or not candidates eventually assume formal leadership positions, the acquisition of the knowledge, skills, technology, and dispositions required for providing leadership serves to enhance their performance at the classroom, school, and community levels. Accordingly, developing the capacity to apply leadership skills that foster the development of community in multicultural, multilingual schools is a theme that is embedded and reinforced in the course content, fieldwork, research requirements, and internship experiences offered by all the programs in the School.
  2. Candidates acquire the ability to lead and participate in decision-making bodies that address the academic content and management structure of the diverse programs in their schools. They are prepared to engage in collaborative processes that encourage the mutual efforts of teachers, administrators, and staff to work and learn together. They become skilled at collegial planning and evaluation, managing conflict, and reflecting and dialoging on their own professional practices. They seek to become stewards of best practice, which, by so doing, feel a responsibility for the whole school and not just the classroom.
  3. Preparing candidates for formal leadership positions. Candidates learn to lead through the co-creation of a shared vision, values and goals. To accomplish this, they learn to build consensus, manage conflict, and clearly communicate the importance of the shared vision and values on an ongoing basis. They learn to create and maintain a culture of cooperation and collaboration which has teaching and learning as its central focus. They develop the value of empowering teachers and staff to act on their own ideas by involving them in decision-making processes and encouraging them to think of themselves as leaders. They demonstrate commitment to and sensitivity and respect for diverse cultures served by school communities.
  4. Faculty in the leadership preparation programs utilize case study methodology, problem-based learning, and cooperative learning strategies to prepare candidates to understand the process of developing and articulating a vision and its related goals, to acquire the skills and dispositions needed to relinquish authority to teachers and staff, to appropriately involve others in decision-making processes, to delegate authority, and to share credit with others for the successes enjoyed by a school or other institutional unit.

Building Caring Communities

Community-building must be at the heart of any school improvement effort. Caring communities are places where teachers and children support and celebrate each other’s learning and general well-being. The School, in order to help candidates begin this career-long endeavor, focuses on the creation of democratic classrooms and schools and teachers’ roles as models of caring, values, and moral behavior.
  1. Democratic classrooms and schools. Candidates come to understand what democratic classrooms and schools look like and what values they have. Faculty strive to be examples, not as transmitters where their voices dominate, but as co-intentional learners, coaches, and facilitators. Beyond modeling, faculty explore with candidates the dynamics of democratic classrooms and emphasize why they are important. They emphasize the connection between public education and caring citizens equipped to make judgments as they participate in the decision-making processes of society.
  2. Teachers as models of caring, values, and moral behavior. All teachers need to know their students well and, to the extent possible, personalize instruction and provide advice, nurturing, and counseling when needed. Faculty of the School, therefore, need to know candidates well and help them identify ways to know their students and to express interest in and caring for them. Candidates need to remember details about students’ lives, keep notes, call and visit their homes, respond authentically, and ask students what they think and care about. Most of all, candidates need to learn that being a caring teacher is not playing a role. They must be authentic persons before they are caring persons. To be authentic in front of students leaves one vulnerable and candidates need to be able to deal with that vulnerability.
  3. Candidates, therefore, learn how classrooms and schools become caring communities and how they become more democratic. They understand behaviors and forces that militate against caring, democratic classrooms. They exhibit caring and democratic behaviors in their education classes. Finally, they will define the values their classrooms will support and understand how these values will contribute to the building of character in their students.
  4. The School continually reviews and evaluates all undergraduate and graduate programs, including the objectives, content, and learning activities of individual courses. Experimentation is sought in all aspects of the program. Through required courses, counseling, experience in community agencies, and in affiliated and other schools, students are prepared to fill their role as urban teachers.