STEP Mission Statement
The Secondary Teacher Education Preparation (STEP) Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst views teaching as an act of caring with complex intellectual moral, theoretical, and political implications. As part of the land grant university STEP works directly with public schools throughout the Connecticut River Valley region of western Massachusetts with an emphasis on under-resourced urban and rural schools. STEP seeks to develop critically reflective educators who are committed to a life-long process of learning embedded in a set of core values: social justice, evidence-based practice, and community engagement.
- An Ongoing Vigorous Commitment to Social Justice and Diversity
The foundation of the STEP Program is commitment to equitable and inclusive teaching practices that are responsive to diverse learners, communities, and a global society. We cultivate students who see themselves as social agents of change constantly challenging socio-cultural norms that promote inequity and marginalization of the “other” (as represented by race, ethnicity, social class, gender, dis/ability, nationality, sexuality, language, religious [non] affiliation, etc.). Ultimately, the STEP Program aims to close/eliminate the opportunity gaps that engulf the American educational system by developing teachers who embrace the use of inclusive pedagogies that recognize, embrace, and encourage diversity of thinking, understanding, living, and being.
- Evidence-Based Practice
The STEP Program is committed to developing teachers who are inspired to engage in critical thinking, problem solving, and lifelong learning. Our research-intensive faculty bring scholarly and practitioner perspectives to the intellectual work of apprenticing teachers into the teaching profession. Their constructivist orientation encourages meaning making and theory building through systematic exploration of artifacts of practice. STEP students possess both a strong foundation in the subject matter and a comprehensive understanding of how students learn and engage with that subject matter. They learn to navigate complex relationships among curricula, instruction, and assessment while becoming judicious technological innovators. Acknowledging that evidence-based practice should inform decision-making and provides the necessary connection between theory and practice (i.e. praxis), our candidates are encouraged to develop an intellectual curiosity that is rooted in continual informed attention to evidence.
- A Strong Connection to Community
We recognize that effective educator preparation is a cooperative endeavor involving all members of an extensive community (school districts, universities, community leaders, teachers, and families). Our students are prepared to work within and across a range of community and professional contexts with an understanding of teaching and learning that is sensitive to the family, community, and political contexts of education. STEP aims to prepare pre-service teachers for informed and influential participation in local and global communities. To that end, we seek, develop, and maintain strong university-school-community partnerships that make time and opportunity for conversations about shared visions and that respect the expertise of each partner.
Our Secondary Teacher Education Pathways
The College of Education offers a number of options for those individuals interested in pursuing licensure at the middle (grades 5-8) or high school (grades 8-12) level in the areas of English, history, political science/political philosophy, the sciences, or modern foreign languages (Chinese, French, Italian, Spanish). Mathematics only offers licensure for grades 9-12. For more information on these options, please see the Secondary Teacher Education brochure and review the links below.
Criteria for admission to any of the above pathways include a strong subject matter background; strong commitment to learning; interest in and respect for adolescents; interest in and respect for diversity and a commitment to work towards equity through work in the schools; potential for leadership through schools; and compatibility with mission and goals of the program of study.
For questions about any of our secondary education pathways, or if you would like to make an advising appointment, please contact the Educator Information Office at (413) 545-2002 or firstname.lastname@example.org.