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Pre-Service Teacher Dispositions

“Dispositions concern not only what we can do, our abilities, but what we are actually likely to do, addressing the gap we often notice between our abilities and our actions.” – Ron Ritchhart 

The St. Norbert College teacher-education discipline has long recognized that certain knowledge and skills are essential to be a teacher. Thus, in regard to the Wisconsin Standards for Teaching and the values of St. Norbert College, the St. Norbert teacher-education discipline has established a set of dispositions that reflect the characteristics of an effective teacher. These dispositions highlight how an individual’s ability interacts with his or her inclinations, including attitudes, values, personal traits, awareness of circumstances in a classroom setting and motivation to continuously improve their teaching skills. 

St. Norbert College teacher-education program graduates are expected to demonstrate the following qualities:

  1. Dedicated: Goes above and beyond in all their actions; one who makes professional activities a priority, meets deadlines and completes work in a timely manner.
  2. Principled: Ethical, honorable, academically honest, adheres to moral principles and constantly models appropriate behaviors.   
  3. Creative: Expresses individuality and innovation; exhibits a willingness to take risks and use original ideas to make learning come alive.
  4. Proactive: Investigates solutions to setbacks; one who displays quick-thinking, takes initiative and displays optimism in spite of difficulties. 
  5. Strategic: Focuses and plans for both the present and the future; approaches tasks logically, sets realistic goals and revises based on reflection for skill improvement.
  6. Inquisitive: A lifelong learner, one who carefully questions, investigates and analyzes various perspectives and resources; lives in the process, not the result. 
  7. Courageous: Faces challenges with boldness; displays grit and a growth mindset; accepts failures as an opportunity for learning and persists under difficult circumstances. 
  8. Empathetic: A demonstration of the Golden Rule; listens, understands and considers the perspectives and emotions of others; places themselves in the other individual’s shoes. 
  9. Enthusiastic: Energizes and brings joy to others; remains optimistic and displays positive verbal and nonverbal behaviors; displays a passion for learning and teaching. 
  10. Equitable: Willingness to see all perspectives regardless of age, race, gender or other factors; puts aside personal biases and works to meet the needs of the individual and the group.  
  11. Open-minded: Accepts and acts on constructive feedback; acknowledges divergent perspectives and is open to change.  
  12. Respectful: Present, punctual and prepared; responds to others in a complementary manner while displaying both politeness and professionalism.  
Throughout the program, pre-service teachers are encouraged to embrace and demonstrate these qualities.

Assessing Pre-Service Teacher Dispositions 
Dispositions represent tendencies to respond in particular ways. This means that assessment of the pre-service teacher’s dispositional characteristics should not be based on a single event or piece of evidence, rather a pattern of responding needs to be established across time. Thus, it is necessary to collect evidence of each pre-service teacher’s dispositions throughout his or her time at the college. Faculty are able to comment on any disposition and are encouraged to do so, especially if there is a concern. When concerns are raised by faculty or staff, the pre-service teacher meets with the program’s co-chairs and plans a strategy to address the issues.

Addressing Concerns
If issues related to dispositions are apparent, the assessment process proceeds as follows:
  1. Any pre-service teacher who has a profile with multiple concerns is asked to meet with the co-chairs of teacher education to determine how to address the issues. A plan of action will be developed.
  2. If, during a subsequent semester, additional concerns are indicated on the pre-service teacher’s profile and the plan developed with the co-chairs is not followed, a panel will be formed to review the individual case. 
The panel will include the pre-service teacher’s advisor, a faculty/academic staff member chosen by the pre-service teacher, a faculty/academic staff member who has had the pre-service teacher in class and expressed concerns, and a faculty/academic staff member who is not well-acquainted with the pre-service teacher. The panel will review the documentation and hear all input from the pre-service teacher and panel members. After deliberation, the panel will provide a recommendation for continuing or leaving the teacher-education program.
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