It was wonderful to see so many of you at the 2022 Annual Meeting in Chicago. John Hicks (Past-President), I thank you for your leadership and service to ATE and for hosting a successful meeting. For those who were unable to join us, you were missed, and we look forward to seeing you in Nashville, TN at the 2022 summer conference, July 29th-August 2nd. I would like to share my Presidential Theme and alert you to watch for the call for summer proposals coming soon. Following the call for summer proposals, you will also receive an invitation to participate in the first Inquiry Initiative also occurring at the ATE Nashville 2022 Summer Conference. The Inquiry Initiative reflects ATE’s historical summer conferences where ATE members gathered in workgroups to address the critical questions or problems facing the profession at the time. Inquiry Initiative participants will once again engage in posing questions and embarking on study group endeavors focused on closing opportunity gaps. Watch for more information about the ATE Inquiry Initiative coming soon. I would also like to take this opportunity to share with you my presidential theme.
Rogers’ Theme for the Year!
Our Professional Journeys: Navigating Roles, Research, Relationships, and Responsibilities
According to the Chinese proverb attributed to Lao Tzu, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” The Association of Teacher Educators (ATE) took that first step just over one hundred years ago, and now has a long and rich history of activities dedicated to the preparation of teachers; we celebrated that journey in Atlantic City in February 2020. Now, as the Association engages in strategic planning to chart its future course, the first steps of the next 100-year journey, we would do well to consider a destination that lies just beyond the horizon—a destination so compelling, it calls us through the inevitable storms along our path; a destination so vivid, it sustains us through the shadowed valley; a destination so powerful, it draws others to join our pilgrimage.
To reach this destination beyond the horizon will require that we let go of some things in our past to take hold of some new things in our future. Likewise, we may let go of some things in our present, to reclaim an aspect of our past. These sacrifices and changes most certainly will not be easy, but the most significant journeys rarely are easy. Like those who sailed uncharted waters or who sought paths across unmapped wilderness, we invite you to join us on “a road less traveled” to a destination beyond the horizon that for now we can only imagine.
We might ask “What energized these courageous ventures? What inspired these individuals to take such great risks, for an unknown destination?” Perhaps, for them, and us, our journeys are not just a physical destination--a place. The adventurers’ journeys, our journeys, are really the external manifestations of inward journeys--our passion to close the gaps between what we believe and what we do. You can’t sail to the edge of the world, you can’t traverse the wilderness, you can’t go to the moon unless you believe that you can close all of the gaps between the vision of what can be and the present reality. We must be motivated to begin, we must be fortified to sustain, we must be challenged to overcome the gaps between the roles we adopt and the work to be done, the gaps between our research questions and our evidence for what works, the gaps between our relationships with other individuals and other organizations, and the gaps between our responsibilities and our actions.
As we set our sights beyond the horizon, driven by our internal vision of an educational system void of gaps, we must expand the vision of who we are. At our core, we believe that learning is at the heart of human development—learning is the foundation upon which opportunity is built. Many individuals, across every conceivable context, have responsibility for helping others learn, yet they would not identify themselves as educators. Even our most essential partners fail to adopt the label of “teacher educator.” We must draw our circle of inclusion ever wider.
As ATE advances into the next 100 years, our work should be shaped by a reconceptualization of a community dedicated to “the professional educator.” This community of professional educators includes individuals who have roles typically labeled as “classroom teacher” and “teacher educator,” with employment by schools and higher education. If we expand our circle of inclusion, then this community of professional educators encompasses teachers, administrators, counselors, professors, clinical coaches, and community members who have some responsibility for facilitating the learning of others (students, teacher candidates, in-service professionals and paraprofessionals, university faculty, etc.) regardless of the educational context. Part of the destination beyond the horizon is an inclusive vocabulary.
In a community of professional educators, our destination beyond the horizon, the concept of preparation must also be expanded. We can no longer limit our dialogue to the recruitment, the programmed experiences leading to certification, the induction, and the retention of new teachers. We must enlarge our conversations to include professional learning for all individuals within the community over the course of their professional careers.
We all need help along the way, along our professional journeys, as we navigate roles, research, relationships, and responsibilities.
Roles-Our community members need professional learning for their designated roles across their professional experiences, but they also need professional learning for transitioning into different roles, or for managing multiple roles within their contexts. In addition, our community members need professional learning for creating new roles and for challenging the status quo of existing roles.
Research-At the center of a professional community is a dedication to understanding and studying their shared professional practice. Professional learning communities encourage members to examine their practice and establish, expand, and refine their shared body of knowledge through the widest array of research methodologies. A robust focus on research moves the community through the cycle of inquiry, implementation, and evaluation.
Relationships-The professional roles of our community members don’t exist in a vacuum; they have contexts (schools, colleges/universities, communities) - each role shares a relationship with the other roles in that context; and the institutions, organizations, and communities within a context have relationships. Community members need professional learning for supporting individuals, groups, and organizations as they establish and maintain healthy and dynamic relationships. Among the most challenging aspects of professional relationships is that they are embodied by people. Each person brings to one’s assigned roles and their relationships a host of individual attributes (social, emotional, physical, intellectual, cultural, spiritual, etc.).
Responsibilities-Our community of professional educators must also share common responsibilities including advocacy for the profession and all those engaged in the work of teacher education. But on a grander stage, in the concentric circles of the communities where we serve, in the contexts where our roles, research, and relationships exist, we have a shared responsibility to speak into the socio-political, -economic, -cultural environment in which we live. Our professional learning must be shaped by our most noble values: diversity, equity, and justice.
Addressing the theme of Our Professional Journeys: Navigating Roles, Research, Relationships, and Responsibilities presents frames of inquiry for research, professional reflection, knowledge sharing, and dialogue. I hope you all join us in this year’s journey! I look forward to seeing you at the ATE Nashville 2022 Summer Conference.
Rachelle Rogers, ATE President 2022-2023