The School of Education’s Conceptual Framework

The faculty and administration of Highlands’ School of Education are reconceptualizing our institutional identity. The search for identity formation, mirrored in the psychological tasks of adolescents, requires the input of others (Erikson, 1963). Stakeholders in our success include our alumni, PK-12 administrators and teachers, our current candidates, alumni, community members and professors from other disciplines. Rasch and Gollnick’s (2005) assertion that “A conceptual framework is a process, not a thing,” describes our endeavor (p. 2).

We began the process of revising our conceptual framework during the 2008-2009 academic year. After a period of instability, it is the faculty and our stakeholders – not the new administration – who best determine our identity. During our two-day school retreat in November 2008, faculty members and staff from all of the centers and the Las Vegas campus explored the school’s collective purpose, mission, values, and vision. Soon, it became apparent that the old conceptual framework could not be revised. It needed to be replaced.

The goal of the retreat was to explore who we are as a school, to develop an understanding of our purpose and to articulate our collective professional identity. Our small and large group sessions included discussions of our candidate population, service area culture, and history. We identified a list of terms that might best describe our professional activities and used them to construct a thematic survey. A faculty member took responsibility for the construction of the survey, the distribution of it and reporting of the results. All faculty members were included and asked to select the terminology that best reflected Highlands School of Education culture, candidates, and professional activities.

As this was a democratic process, the descriptors that received 50% (10 of 20 votes) or more of the participating faculty votes became the school's themes (NASSP, 1987). These are:

Reflective Practitioner
Culturally Inclusive
Authentic Settings

A mnemonic acrostic may help us recall our school themes – “Reflective practitioners and professionals practice leadership with knowledge in culturally inclusive, diverse and authentic settings.”