Conceptual Framework

We are committed to understanding the teacher as LEARNER (Liberal Education, Advocacy, Reflection, Nurture, Engagement, and Rexpect). A complete overview of the Unit's Conceptual Framework is available online. These core concepts shape our programming and our ways of relating with our candidates, school and community partners, one another, and the larger University.

Liberal Education: Our program’s positioning within the University's larger commitment to a "superior liberal education" makes us somewhat unique in our design. The Unit does not offer an education major, but rather builds on the excellence and depth of content knowledge our students acquire through their studies across campus and beyond. It is our conviction that our graduates benefit from this commitment to supporting rigorous study in multiple disciplines, met with the excellence of our intensive teacher preparation programs.

Advocacy: We recognize that good teachers are good leaders. We prepare our teachers to be advocates for students and schools both within the institutions where they will be employed and in the greater community. We model our commitment to cultivating leadership by our own participation in advocating for the place of teacher preparation within a Tier 5 research institution as well as our commitments to advocacy for PreK-12 students in our region.

Reflection: Central to our praxis is an ongoing commitment to reflection. Our previous conceptual framework ALERT (A Liberally Educated, Reflective Teacher) placed “reflective” as the most significant modifier in describing the teachers we educate. We continue our deep, institutional commitment to this value throughout our programs.

Nurture: Held in constant tension with the challenge of high standards for academic excellence that we expect of our candidates and in turn encourage them to expect of their students, we seek to maintain a culture of fairness and compassion. Recognizing that in our formation of teachers we are invested in the whole student, we encourage candidates to recognize the role of nurturing in their own professional identities.

Engagement: Duke has made a commitment to civic engagement a priority, and our programs have been leaders in that effort. We are international leaders in the development of service-learning pedagogies in teacher preparation. Beyond the scope of traditional fieldwork, our emphasis on engagement reconceptualizes the partnership between pre-service teachers, schools, and the university by drawing attention to broader social and ethical considerations of the schooling experience. Our graduates are unequivocally clear that their commitment to teaching is a commitment to a life of civic engagement.

Respect: We emphasize a culture of respect as we companion emerging professionals towards teaching diverse populations. By actively and critically engaging questions of power and privilege, we prepare our candidates to meet their students where their students are, and with all those students bring with them to the learning community.