The M.Ed. program has been designed for progressive inquiry toward the creation of a classroom action research (CAR) project proposal that addresses local school improvement goals. Candidates will first be introduced to the PSOE DATA Model for The Teacher as a Responsive Instructional Leader and Researcher that reflects the iterative, cyclical process for the subsequent action research that will be applied in the local classroom.
Through examination and implementation of the Model, candidates will investigate the theory and research relevant to the components of the PSOE DATA Model and how curriculum design, differentiated instruction, and ongoing assessment impact student learning. Candidates will also explore school-, teacher-, and student-level factors that influence achievement and how these factors can be aligned with local school improvement goals for significant gains in achievement for all students.
Finally, candidates will examine children with special needs characteristics in order to develop a more in-depth knowledge of the multiple interacting influences on children’s development and learning. Specifically, candidates will explore how to glean insight into students’ backgrounds to impact their development and learning. The purpose of this stage is to prepare candidates for the design and implementation of classroom action research aligned with school improvement goals through the integration of learner differences, essential content knowledge, a strong curriculum framework, a systematic instructional approach, and consistent formative assessment to validate instructional decisions for all students and to impact learning.
The second domain of the program has been designed for candidates to strategize, finalize, and begin implementation of the classroom action research (CAR) project proposal to be completed during the second year of the program. Candidates will examine effective inclusionary instructional and assessment strategies as they develop a CAR project. Candidates will study models of inclusion and investigate current research related to effective instruction practices that support the learning of students with special needs in inclusion environments. Additionally, candidates will enhance their abilities to implement strategies that promote prosocial behaviors of students.
Candidates will investigate the importance and complex characteristics of children’s families and communities to create respectful, reciprocal relationships that support and empower families, and to sustain these partnerships to impact children’s development and learning. Candidates will examine the research and dominant theories of human development and sociocultural development within the context of the family, community, and society. Strategies for collaboration between home and school will be emphasized, and interagency cooperation within the community will be examined in relation to the benefits for young children and their families. Candidates will explore how to engage parents and the community, and more intentionally respond to student diversity of culture, language, and ethnicity.
As candidates progress into the summer and second year of the program, they will continue their classroom action research (CAR) project. Candidates will also expand their knowledge and experience of the teaching and learning process by developing and demonstrating a high level of competence in the essentials for grant writing, conducting action research, strategically planning instruction embedded in best practices, and reconceptualizing teacher leadership roles within and outside the classroom, thus, transforming school culture to elevate student achievement and school innovation.
The purpose of this stage is to assist candidates in the implementation of their CAR project proposal while they continue to expand their ability to address the instructional and socio-emotional needs of students in their classroom and school. The candidates will examine formal and informal assessment practices used with students of special needs, understand and implement effective assessment procedures, and interpret the results of these assessments effectively to colleagues and parents.
Candidates will demonstrate their leadership and effective collaboration skills by assisting students with socio-emotional problems through the facilitation of the Response to Intervention (RTI) process. With their knowledge of functional assessment and positive behavioral support, the candidates will collaborate with others in the RTI process to implement behavioral interventions that reduce inappropriate behaviors and increase positive behaviors in targeted students.
The final domain of the program has been designed for candidate evaluation, synthesis, and reflection of the knowledge, skills, and dispositions acquired and enhanced through application of their CAR project. Using the Council for Exceptional Children's Advanced Content Standards, NBPT Standards, and criteria from the Georgia Master Teacher Certification Program, each candidate will refine the narration and evidentiary artifacts in his or her Electronic Portfolio to highlight professional development throughout the program.
During this stage, M.Ed. candidates will examine how they can work as instructional leaders and collaborators in the professional community to improve programs and practices for children with special needs and their families and advocate for sound professional practices and public policies for the positive development and learning of all children.
The cohort of candidates will also plan and stage a Teacher as a Responsive Instructional Leader and Researcher Conference where each candidate will provide a presentation of his or her CAR Project. At the conclusion of this stage, candidates will exhibit the experiential evidence of their development through a formal presentation of their Electronic Portfolio. The purpose of this stage is to provide opportunities for candidates to reflect on and demonstrate their professional growth as an effective teacher in inclusion classrooms, superior collaborator, action researcher, and instructional leader. The candidates will also demonstrate their expertise while assisting their colleagues in meeting the policies and procedures related to Special Education Law.