The Department of Education, a scholarly community of faculty and students, shares in the Catholic and academic mission of The Catholic University of America. The Department recognizes the important role of education in shaping humanity, the world and the future. The teacher education program functions within this community to prepare teachers for Catholic, private and public schools to educate students for a changing world.

The overall purpose of teacher education at Catholic University is to help candidates acquire the skills and reflective qualities essential for the professional practice of teaching. By developing a reflective, problem-solving orientation toward teaching, graduates of this program should be empowered to critically examine their own actions and the context of these actions for the purpose of a more deliberative mode of professional activity (Berlak and Berlak, 1981). The outcome should be self-directed teachers who use professional knowledge to actively, persistently and carefully improve their practice.

One assumption that guides this program is that pre-service teachers can be taught to reflect on their experiences. This can only be accomplished when students are given many opportunities to practice reflection in different contexts and situations. For this reason, all coursework and related field experiences are infused with content and assignments that promote the central goal of increasing reflective thought.

A second assumption is that systematic observation and analysis during a variety of field experiences will promote reflectivity. Candidates are encouraged to use a problem-solving approach to reflect on situations encountered in their own teaching experiences or observations, draw on relevant research and theory for solutions, and integrate knowledge across coursework and field experiences.

Early Childhood Education Program Mission Statement

Updated Spring 2021

In accordance with the University’s mission of teaching, research, and service, the Department of Education prepares early childhood teacher candidates with knowledge, skills, abilities, and professional dispositions associated with effective teaching and learning to help all young diverse learners achieve their fullest potential; conduct research and support the advancement of and dissemination of high-quality knowledge; and prepares candidates to attain their educator credentials and become effective early childhood educators. The Department of Education achieves its goals through establishing and maintaining collaborations with school-based partners to effect changes and improvements in education. The Department of Education collaborates with the University to achieve its mission and vision. 

The vision of producing highly competent early childhood educators is practiced through the theme of reflection. This theme is consistent with the University’s motto: Deus Lux Mea Est (God is My Light). Light is the symbol of holiness, goodness, knowledge, wisdom, grace, and hope. Light is illumination and intelligence; it is the source of goodness. Catholic University’s Department of Education desires to prepare early childhood educators who represent the characteristics of light: who are good, knowledgeable, wise, and willing to teach all children with grace and hope. 

The Department of Education values critically aware and responsible educators who are reflective enough to know the self-work effective educators must do and dispositions they must have to serve all diverse children and families. Responsibility includes the obligations of reflection, ethic of care, and sensitivity. Reflective and caring educators embody the following values the Department of Education holds dear: 1) sensitivity and accountability to diversity (elements of the learning environment), 2) collaboration (context), 3) ethical and moral decision-making (modes of deliberation), and 4) critical thinking and intellectual honesty (educational dilemmas). 

We believe that all children are created in the image of God and appreciate young children as unique, valuable, and precious human beings. We consider the family to be the most important foundation of a child’s life, and we build on that bedrock by encouraging parental engagement and by creating strong community relationships to fully meet diverse students’ needs in the context of family, culture, community, and society. Early childhood educators can accomplish their important work only when they understand young children’s characteristics and needs, the impact of multiple influences on children’s learning such as family, community, and cultural context; and have positive, culturally responsive, and respectful relationships with all stakeholders including parents, caregivers, and the community.

In order to support children’s learning and development cognitively, physically, socially, and emotionally, we expect early childhood educators to respect all young children’s dignity and exhibit sensitivity for all diverse backgrounds in terms of race, class, gender, culture, language, geography, and socio-economic status.

In order to help all children achieve their full potential, early childhood educators must focus on the whole child and provide developmentally effective and appropriate instructional learning opportunities across a variety of academic domains integrated in a meaningful curriculum within a supportive, warm, secure, accepting, healthy, challenging, and respectful learning environment using technology whenever appropriate. Effective early childhood educators also observe, document, and assess children’s learning in order to support their development and communicate the goals, benefits, and uses of assessment to their families. 

Ultimately, through its programs, the Department of Education seeks to educate men and women to be responsible, accountable, effective, sensitive, reflective, collaborative, ethical, moral, and caring teachers who teach and serve all young children, the local community, and society at large with distinction and who are shaped by the learning and values inherent in their academic preparation.