GSE Dean’s Office Awards support key projects

The GSE Dean’s Office Awards provide financing, at the dean’s discretion, to support special projects aligned with GSE goals and priorities. Each year, GSE faculty and staff submit proposals to address student success, equity, scholarship, and a variety of efforts that advance their work, yet fall outside of the regular budgeting process. The following highlights some of the excellent work GSE faculty and staff are advancing, and illustrates why the GSE is a leader across the state in teacher and counselor preparation.

“We have outstanding faculty and staff who are engaged in important efforts to transform our community in significant ways. It is my absolute pleasure to continue to support the work of our colleagues through Dean’s Office Awards.”
-Dean Marvin Lynn

Vernier Software partners with GSE to support STEM students

A partnership between the secondary science and math specializations and the Vernier Software Company is a longstanding tradition in the GSE. Professor Jean Aguilar-Valdez in Curriculum and Instruction now leads this effort, which was established by Professor Ron Narode. Secondary GTEP students tour Vernier headquarters in Beaverton and learn about Vernier probeware and other products for science exploration. David and Christine Vernier graciously provided $9,600 in STEM teaching equipment and curriculum to 32 students, a donation that is matched by a Dean’s Office Award. The GSE’s aspiring student teachers and the schools they serve can seldom afford high-tech STEM teaching equipment. The Vernier partnership is a powerful opportunity to enact equity in STEM education by providing cutting-edge STEM teaching tools to future teachers.

“Vernier’s probeware and software afford science and math teachers with so many possibilities to provide cutting-edge, inquiry-based science and math experiences for their students,” said Aguilar-Valdez. “We are so honored to be able to carry on the tradition of providing these teaching tools to our student teachers, along with an experience at the Vernier corporate facilities. The student teachers will be able to immediately bring these tools and software into their field placements and later into their own classrooms to continue pushing the boundaries of experiential science and math learning for years to come.”

New online master’s in early childhood gets teaching support

How do we deliver a new online program to students who have minimal experience with virtual learning technologies? That was the challenge for a new master’s degree in early childhood at PSU. The Master in Early Childhood: Inclusive Ed and Curriculum & Instruction provides much-needed professional development for early childhood educators and directors and will help them build their careers in Head Start, child care, preschools, and public school settings. But their unfamiliarity with an online classroom environment presents numerous challenges for teachers more familiar with the interactive relationships of face-to-face classes. As program coordinators, CI faculty Ingrid Anderson and John Nimmo wanted to explore ways to help make delivery of this program a success. They applied for a Dean’s Office Award to create pedagogical trainings for adjunct faculty teaching in this program to explore key components to success: relationship-building, problem-solving, collaboration, and dissemination of ideas related to online teaching—all essential to an online education environment.

Nimmo noted, “We all know about the ways in which a fully online program creates better access and flexibility for learners working in the field, but we also believe that there are ways in which online learning can develop greater fluency in how to think, dialogue, and collaborate virtually that are important to today’s educators.” Anderson added, “Now that the program is moving into its third year, there is a great need to create a sense of collective vision regarding the program and to develop adjunct pedagogical skills.”

In addition to providing a forum for sharing online teaching strategies and innovative applications, Anderson and Nimmo see the series of faculty workshops as an opportunity to engage in a dialogue about both the challenges and the potential of an online learning community.

GSE launches an equity development project

Tara Cooper, Teacher Pathways Program coordinator, is an emerging leader for diversity within the Graduate School of Education. She works with a team of faculty and staff to provide new opportunities for the entire faculty and staff to strengthen leadership for equity and to better prepare students to be strong leaders for equity in schools. With help from a Dean’s Office Award, the team has coordinated professional development trainings and workshops throughout the year to create and build diversity and inclusivity initiatives. These include guest speakers, such as Dr. Caprice D. Hollins, and facilitators John Lenssen and Hector Roche, whose work ​with the GSE has increased the school’s ​awareness and ​understanding of ​implicit bias and ​institutional racism.

“As educators and counselors, we recognize the importance of dismantling racism and exclusionary practices within our educational systems,” said Cooper. “As we prepare the next generation of counselors, teachers, and administrators, it is vital that we ground ourselves in principles of equity and that we model inclusivity and humility in everything we do.”

After just a year of concentrated efforts, the GSE is seeing results. As a community, GSE faculty and staff are more committed to the work of deepening awareness and capacity to better serve diverse students and marginalized communities.

Teacher effectiveness task force develops survey tool

Maika Yeigh, Sue Lenski, Amanda Sugimoto, Sheldon Loman, and Leslee Peterson are all working on a tool that will help assess teacher effectiveness beyond the doors of GSE classrooms. With money from a Dean’s Office Award, this group will pilot a program to observe GSE graduates in K–12 school settings for the next year and will validate a tool to use in a three-year cycle.

The goal is to see if GSE graduates are meeting standards aligned with the school’s national accreditation with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). The GSE was the first program in Oregon and one of only 10 on the West Coast to achieve CAEP accreditation in the first year it was available.

This project is designed to meet two CAEP assessment standards (4.1 and 4.2) that will eventually be required of all education institutions. The GSE faculty team also saw it as a unique opportunity to conduct deeper research on how to improve their work.

“The accreditation requirement gave us the impetus,” said Peterson, who is the administrative coordinator of the program. “Over the next few years, every program is going to need to do this. This is one example of how accreditation changes the way we invest our time. We hope it provides useful information about how we structure our programs and work with students.”

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