Kent State ECED Teacher Education Program Conceptual Framework

Through the lenses of social justice and international mindedness, our graduates put theory into practice in these areas:

Curriculum Experts

Synthesize conceptual understandings of theory, content, technology, and child development into meaningful activities for Pre-K – 3 students.

Through coursework our pre-service teachers learn important elements of research and theory that informs best practice for young children within each content area.

Our pre-services teachers are also knowledgeable of district courses of study; and state and national content standards across the contents of primary curriculum. They are able to construct a balanced program that integrates the important components of effective instruction specific to each content area.   They are able to assess children’s learning through various authentic means and use this information as they plan lessons. Our pre-service students also learn to adapt planning and instruction to reflect the needs of specific children and sites.

Our pre-services teachers also learn how to create learning environments that are applicable to whole group, small group and individual work.  They practice responding to children in constructive and supportive ways.

Pedagogical Experts

In order for teachers to become pedagogical experts they need to develop the following: 1) a deep understanding for the subject matter knowledge involved in early childhood instruction, 2) an ability to utilize a variety of effective and equitable teaching approaches in the classroom, and 3) teachers must be able to utilize these understandings to adapt instruction to best meet the academic needs of their students.

The notion of “pedagogical content knowledge” (PCK) articles the difficult terrain that teachers must negotiate between their content understanding and their pedagogical approach (Shulman, 1987).  This construct of PCK speaks directly to the complexity of expert teaching in that it is not enough to merely have a strong grasp of content or pedagogy, rather “the key to distinguishing the knowledge base of teaching lies at the intersection of content and pedagogy” (Shulman, 1987, p. 15).  PCK is steeped in the practices of the classroom teacher and includes a variety of both theoretical and practical approaches, which are designed to meet the needs of all children.  Furthermore, teachers must be able to utilize these understandings to equitably assess and evaluate the learning and growth of their students within particular subject areas.

In addition, our pre-service teachers are engaged in inquiry-based coursework so that their lesson planning, across the content areas, evidences inquiry-based involvements for young children that: 

  • are inviting, motivating and creative
  • invite exploration, inquiry, hands-on and minds-on investigations
  • promote thinking, problem-solving and theory building
  • encourage communication and sharing
  • provide multiple modes of representation
  • evidence current thinking in each content area.

[Shulman, L. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57, 1-22.]

Committed Professionals

At this point in your education, you are transitioning from being a student to becoming a professional educator. With that transition comes great responsibility. Professionalism is an attitude and internal guide to our behavior. According to Regie Routman (1999), to do our job well means being professional in the highest sense of the word. Being professional encompasses the following roles:

  • Learner: View yourself as a model learner. “Being able to listen, question, explore, and discover are more important than having all the ‘right answers’” (p. 2). Life-long learners belong to professional organizations, read current research and attend local and national conferences to keep up to date on new understandings in their field.
  • Scholar: “We can glean much from authors, experts, and colleagues, but to be scholarly about our learning, we have to reflect upon it, challenge it, and ‘push the envelope’” (p. 3).
  • Communicator: “Being a clear communicator to our students’ families, our students, our colleagues, and our extended school community is one of our most important professional roles” (p.4). Professional teachers are comfortable articulating why they are doing what they are doing.
  • Leader: A leader is someone who believes everyone can contribute to the conversation and has something important to say. A leader “gets things done” because it is for the overall good of the school, class, or student.
  • Political activist: Education is political. We need to feel comfortable asking questions and challenging information when necessary. Teachers are agents of change and are responsible for creating just and equitable classrooms environment for their students.
  • Researcher: A teacher researcher is an observer and learner, who looks and looks again, questions assumptions, reconsiders practice, and continues to questions what happens in the classroom (Bissex as quoted in Routman, p. 7). Professionals also ask their own questions and collect and analyze data to answer their questions.
  • Role model for kindness: “How we lead our lives and conduct ourselves with others is one of the most important marks of the professional teacher… How we treat each other, our students, and their families greatly impacts our effectiveness as teachers” (p.7). “We are not only literacy role models for our students; we are also, always models of human behavior” (p.8).

[Routman, R. (1999). Conversations: Strategies for teaching, learning, and evaluating.  Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.]


Democratically Accountable Leaders

Advocators, ethical leaders, moral agents who strive for social justice; who acknowledge and practice multiple, multiethnic, multicultural, and multilingual perspectives in a pluralistic society

Under this notion, KSU ECE teacher education students will be able to:

  • Advocate ALL young children’s rights for their equal and fair treatment from the society to help them reaching their fullest potentials;
  • Create and exercise developmentally meaningful and culturally responsive conditions for ALL young children’s meaningful learning and growth;
  • Disapprove and challenge ANY social, political, economical, and cultural scrutiny that obstructs young children’s healthy and safe living conditions and supportive learning environment; and
  • Lead the profession with a collective and shared responsibility to protect ALL young children’s legal rights.


Teacher as Co-Decision Maker

Pre-service teachers will work in concert with members of their classroom, schools, and communities to devise meaningful classroom pedagogy and curriculum. This should be seen as a reiterative process where all stakeholders, teachers, children, families, and community members, engage in decision-making that meets the specific needs of the students, schools, and the larger community. This dynamic process will provide each stakeholder with a vested interest in the creation of curriculum and goals for students and schools. By following an interactive approach, pre-service teacher educators work to devise innovative learning opportunities as opposed to passively accepting a prescribed curriculum. The overarching goal of this stand is to solidify the interconnected and changing relationships between communities, schools, students, and teachers to determine the most beneficial pedagogy for the children in our schools.

In any given teaching situation, the early childhood pre-service teacher learns to use professional knowledge from multiple sources in deciding what course of action is appropriate. “Education and development are, after all, ongoing processes that continue throughout life….As educators and developmentalists, early childhood teachers have to become comfortable with paradox - stability and change, individual and group, structure and freedom, flexibility and predictability.” (p. 51) Resolving apparent contradictions, working with schools and communities, and attending to families, are all integral to the needed professional judgment and collaborative aspect of teaching.

[Bredekamp, S, & Copple, C., (Eds.). (1997). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs (Rev. ed.). Washington, DC:  National Association for the Education of Young Children.]


Reflective Thinkers

Be able to engage in the habit of self-assessment to continually uncover unknown possibilities in educational theory, classroom practice, and self 

Under this notion, KSU ECE teacher education students will be able to:

  • Continually access and apply educational theories, which promote all students as capable and successful learners, contributing to classroom and school environments of possibility and potential.  The teacher will systematically create and access resources to sustain teaching/learning professional endeavor leading to social-emotional development and academic achievement for all students.
  • Refine and construct a classroom observation-inquiry-assessment system that supports the teacher in improving his or her planning, interactions, and pedagogical approaches with students and communities.  This process will aide the teacher in creating a positive and successful construction of the student as learner with tangible academic and social-emotional outcomes.
  • Establish and maintain a systematic set of mechanisms whereby the teacher publicly and individually reflects upon the successes, needs, strengths, and struggles with which she/he engages on a daily basis with students.  The ultimate goal of systematic self-evaluation is to improve and tailor teaching approaches to meet the varied needs of students.