Educate the Educators

Posted September 4, 2012

By Michael L. Gravens, Communication Director for the Military Child Education Coalition

Today, over two million military-connected children and youth live with perpetual challenges presented by frequent moves, parental deployments, and a host of life transitions including reintegration and dealing with profoundly changed parents. The well-being of these children and youth depends heavily on a network of supportive adults who are trained to identify academic issues and signs of emotional or physical challenge.  Unfortunately, PK-12 schools and institutions of higher learning may not be prepared to support the learning needs of these military-connected students.

The Military Child Education Coalition ® (MCEC®) and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) have created “Operation Educate the Educators,” a partnership to enhance the preparation of educators to better meet the needs of those children and youth in schools with high populations of military-connected students.

In consultation with an advisory board of education school deans and faculty, AACTE and MCEC developed a set of guidelines titled, Guiding Principles for Preparing Educators to Meet the Needs of Military-Connected Students. These principles raise an awareness of the unique needs these students have, enabling future educators to develop successful school experiences for all students.

Leading educator preparation programs foster awareness and understanding of the experiences of military-connected students. This is accomplished by:

  • Embedding content specifically focused on the realities which military-connected students face into their existing curriculum;
  • Offering workshops to candidates and faculty that enhance understanding of the military and impact of the mission on military-connected students.
  • Providing an opportunity for military-connected students and faculty on campus to share experiences with school of education students;
  • Working with the institution’s admissions office to identify military-connected enrolled students.

 

Leading educator preparation programs prepare educators to meet the social, emotional, and learning needs of military-connected students. This is accomplished by:

  • Assuring their school of education faculty is knowledgeable about the realities which military-connected students face;
  • Ensuring that practicum and final clinical experience (student teaching/internship/etc.) include candidates working with military-connected students;
  • Encouraging faculty and graduate and undergraduate students to undertake research on military-connected students;
  • Developing faculty exchanges with service academies and military senior service institutions for increased professional collegiality among institutions of higher education.

 

Leading educator preparation programs work with their P-12 school partners to create environments that are responsive to the social, emotional, and learning needs of military-connected students and honor military families. This is accomplished by:

  • Surveying local P-12 schools to identify the size of their military-connected student population;
  • Creating and offering joint professional development opportunities on meeting the needs of military-connected students for higher education and P-12 faculty;;
  • Working with P-12 school partners to establish school environments supportive of military-connected students, responsive to their unique needs;
  • Providing extra support to P-12 school partners that have military-connected students with disabilities.

 

At present, 74 institutions have committed to implementing these Guiding Principles.  To help fulfill this initiative, they may take advantage of the AACTE website which lists several articles and books on this topic. Additionally, they can embrace available professional development opportunities to develop curriculum and clinical experiences in order to better serve the more than two million military-connected students in our country.