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Dr. Mike Trevisan

Dean's Perspectives

Annyong haseyo from Seoul Korea!

I am in the middle of my second week of my first Fulbright Specialist visit working at Korea University (KU) in Seoul, so I wanted to drop a quick note to update the college and its supporters on how things are going. I have been on the other side of jetlag for several days now, have a routine going, and enjoy coming to the office each day.

The weather last week was downright cold. It snowed here last Wednesday. Since this last Sunday, however, it has been in the low- to mid-60s and is projected to be this way for the remainder of my stay. With the improvement in the weather, students are out late, and the energy among students is high.

Koreans love their coffee! There are many local coffeehouses near campus. All of this is in addition to coffeehouses on the KU campus, as well as a couple of Starbucks close by. And the coffee is good at these places! I’ve tried several of them.

Koreans refer to the SKY universities as being the most desirable universities in Korea. SKY stands for Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University. KU also has a strong international initiative and has many students from different countries throughout the world. I met with the associate dean for research the other day to explore student exchanges. I will have lunch with the dean on Friday to discuss these possibilities further.

The work I am doing deals with the idea of school counseling as a means to address student issues that plague schools throughout the world. The increasing global awareness of school counseling as a means to address these issues is really interesting to me. There are many countries who have recently established professional school counselors in their schools or countries that are seriously considering this implementation. While the roles, definitions, training, and skills differ from country to country, all are have a singular purpose: to support educators and families address personal issues students face so that they can focus on their education.

Baseball in Korea

Korea has made a major investment in school counselors and is positioned to become a global leader in addressing student issues as they have also implemented what they refer to as WEE centers (We education + We emotion) in school districts in Korea. The centers are staffed with school counselors, mental health counselors, social workers, and clinical psychologists. My collaborator and I toured a WEE center last week. It was most impressive. We think other countries will be interested the WEE center concept and want to implement something similar.

I am working with my collaborator, other faculty, and graduate students. The policy research and program evaluation work we are developing as a research team is faculty work that I am thoroughly enjoying. It is wonderful to be on the beautiful KU campus, full of bright and energetic students and faculty.

I have attended a baseball game with faculty and students. The game was the season opener for the Dooson Bears. They were playing at home and many of the graduate students with whom I attended were pulling for Dooson. But in the end, they unfortunately lost to the Samsung Lions.

I also had dinner with a new colleague at a restaurant that overlooks the Han River, the main river that runs through Seoul. It is easily the width of the Columbia River and is stunning in its beauty and grandeur.

The people here at KU are very supportive and have made my stay in Seoul comfortable and one that I will remember with fondness. The hospitality is second to none.

The only way to fully describe the experience is that it is all a privilege.

Fulbright Specialist Communication Disclaimer

This blog does not reflect the views of the U.S. Government, Department of State, or any affiliated organization. The views are solely those of the author, Mike Trevisan.

Our continued partnership with Khon Kaen University

I am now back from Khon Kaen, Thailand. Recall that the college has had a formal partnership with the Faculty of Education at Khon Kaen University (KKU) for 15 years. I usually like to communicate about college international trips while I am there. In this case, I simply had no time. As part of this trip, Paula Groves Price and I provided keynote addresses to an international curriculum conference being held in Khon Kaen. As part of the meeting, we also listened to graduate student presentations and provided formal feedback for master and doctoral students. In addition, we provided workshops for graduate students that lasted the better part of two days.

Getting to Khon Kaen is no simple task. Flights from Spokane to Seattle, Seattle to Tokyo, Tokyo to Bangkok, and Bangkok to Khon Kaen are required. Those that do the trip know just how demanding the travel is and it is a bit of a bond we share with our Khon Kaen colleagues who travel to WSU. The only way these relationships survive is if individuals from both places are willing to do this travel. We met with Khon Kaen University’s vice president of international affairs, as well as its president. Many university partnerships exist in name only, and little is actually done. Both these Khon Kaen administrators expressed gratitude for this international partnership actually being one of action.

When KKU faculty and students visited WSU last April, we signed another five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which governs the relationship. The visit by Paula and me marked the first set of activities under the new and expanded MOU with KKU. In the past, educational administration was the focus for KKU and WSU. For this trip, educational administration, as well as curriculum and instruction, were the foci for this trip. We toured their Autism Research Center and Demonstration School on campus and discussed yet other possibilities for the future.

Thailand is a developing country and one of contrasts. This is no more apparent than in Khon Kaen, the seat of commerce and government for the northeast region of Thailand. When I visited there in 2001, I saw a Mercedes Benz, a couple of elephants, and a family of four riding on a Honda 90, with none of the riders wearing a helmet. Last year, and in this visit, I saw a good deal of development, with new housing units along a lake in the downtown, and many new buildings. No elephants were seen this time, nor a Mercedes Benz. I did see several big, new SUVs (further signs of overall development) and more people wearing helmets, which is now the law. Still, there were plenty of families traveling in Khon Kaen on one small motorcycle without any protective gear. The hotel we stay at is very nice. A short walk down a street with several bars and restaurants and you’ll see a Starbucks. Visible from our 11th floor room are dwellings with people living in abject poverty.

Whatever we do as a college for KKU is warmly embraced and lauded by faculty and administrators. We really feel appreciated for the work we do and, in some small way, feel like we are making the world a better place, though I want to be careful not to overstate what we offer. In short, this is simply land-grant university work. I hope that the college will continue this partnership for years to come. Given the relationship and the accomplishments thus far, I think this partnership can be a signature international collaboration for the college.

On our trans-pacific flight there, we flew into the jet stream. I like reading the flight data that is provided for each passenger. On this flight, the head wind in mph was given, along with the ground speed and air speed. This reminded me of my high school teaching days. Many of you know that I use to be a high school mathematics teacher. When I taught algebra, I used to develop algebra problems like: “You are traveling in an airplane at X mph and facing a head wind of Y mph. You need to travel Z miles. How long will it take you to get there?” I suspect many of you might remember knocking your brains out trying to solve these problems! J Anyway, on the way back, we traveled with the jet stream at about 800 mph and at about 40,000 feet. Incredible.

KKU faculty and students will be in Pullman in April. I hope each one of you takes the opportunity to introduce yourself and visit with them. Please help make them feel welcome. Paula has a variety of activities planned so there are times to jump in and meet people. As this partnership continues to expand, Paula will be reaching out to faculty to work with KKU. Perhaps a trip to Khon Kaen will be required. Strongly consider this opportunity. While the work can be challenging and the hours long, you will not regret your involvement. I predict you will be changed by the experience.

A Season for Thanks

holiday header

 

As we close the year for the College of Education, I want to take stock of some of the wonderful programs, initiatives, and people within the college that make this a special place to work and a year to remember.

I hope everyone will take away from this message just how good the College of Education is as an academic unit at WSU. In fact, the COE and our faculty, staff, and students are leaders in many ways, as other university units look to the college to see how we are doing our work. That being said, here are just three things that really stand out to me:

The college leads when it comes to diversity. Under the leadership of Paula Groves Price, the college is involved in just about every aspect of diversity at WSU. Among other things, this includes:

  • Support for the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. programs and activities.
  • Development of programs for the new Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center.
  • Outreach and service to the Native American communities in the region.

We also troubleshoot when issues of racism, prejudice, and discrimination surface, as they unfortunately have in recent weeks. But I couldn’t be prouder of the way individuals in our college stepped up to clean the student’s car that had been vandalized this semester. The faculty, staff, and students that acted on this student’s behalf showed true Cougar spirit and pride and illustrated how best to counter such negativity; namely, with positive action. I will have more to say about diversity and the college’s role during the spring semester.

External Funding. Having been in this college for nearly 23 years, I know and have experienced the history of the college with respect to external funding. WSU has pressed for increased research productivity and our college has answered the call. Under the leadership of Amy Roth McDuffie, we have more than doubled the grant award dollars over previous years. With several large federal grant awards from the Department of Education, Office of Indian Education, Institute of Education Sciences, and the National Science Foundation, the College of Education is showing WSU that we are players in the research enterprise of the university and making a positive impact as the university takes on the Drive to 25 initiative. Well done!

Development. Under the leadership of Andrea Farmer, the development team has surpassed most key targets for college development and is setting records. The revenue this year already is well over the goal for the year, alumni participation is tied for second among academic units, and other colleges look to us as to how we work with our college’s advisory board. As the university moves toward its third capital campaign, COE is well positioned to make a real difference.

I could list more standouts and will do so in months to come. Before I close, I also want to speak to the tenor within the college. I think it is fair to say that overall, the attitude among people is positive, there is a spirit of good will, and we are looking forward. To be clear, there is a bump here and there. I think all would agree that with even just two people, there will be conflict from time to time. We still have work to do and can take nothing for granted when it comes to working well with one another. For me, I don’t recall a point in history for this college in which the energy has been so high. Thank you.

During this holiday season, let’s keep the COE magic alive by doing something positive or special for someone else. For me, this is the best way to give thanks for the opportunity and privilege to work in a great college at a wonderful university.

I wish everyone a joyous, restful, and safe holiday break.

And… Go Cougs!

Three Minute Thesis: A great program building momentum

The College of Education recently held the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. This was the third competition in as many years. It is clear 3MT is becoming part of the culture of our college, and of the doctoral student experience here in Pullman. Information and photos from this event can be viewed by clicking on this link https://3mt.wsu.edu/education/

Here’s a bit of background about the event. 3MT is a doctoral-level competition that has students deliver their thesis to a panel of judges – in three minutes or less. The purpose of the program is simple: encourage its participants to learn how to effectively speak about their research to non-specialized audiences. 3MT was started in 2008 by the University of Queensland, in Australia. It is a copyrighted competition with specific branding guidelines and rules that must be followed. In 2014, our college sought approval from the University of Queensland to host our own 3MT event. They granted our request. The College of Education hosted its first competition in May 2014. Then-provost Dan Bernardo was one of the event’s judges and immediately saw the value in taking the event university wide.

As a top research institution, WSU values doctoral students gaining their own research experience. But more today than ever, learning how to communicate this research, often times in plain talk, and in a succinct manner, will be vital to gaining important stakeholder attention and helping solve our societal grand challenges. In both 2015, and this year, the competition has been sponsored by the Office of the Provost, and administered by the College of Education.

Congratulations to this year’s winners of the College of Education 3MT. The winners are:

  • First Place – Andrew Iverson; Educational Psychology
  • Second Place – Amir Gilmore; Cultural Studies and Social Thought in Education
  • People’s Choice – Abir El Shaban; Language, Literacy, and Technology

The above individuals won cash prizes. As a first place winner, Andrew Iverson will also compete at the university-level event for a sizeable travel award. He will face off against the winners of other WSU colleges.

Here are the details for the WSU 3MT, which is part of Academic Showcase:

Date: Tuesday, March 22

Time: 1:00 p.m. PDT

Location: CUB Junior Ballroom.

Please join us at the event to cheer for Andrew Iverson and the other doctoral students as they work to develop their presentation skills in three minutes!

Greetings from Khon Kaen, Thailand!

OK, so I travel just a tad. And while I usually try to blog on many of these trips, I was so busy this time around that I wasn’t able to do it until heading back to Pullman.

The College of Education has had a partnership with the Faculty of Education at Khon Kaen University (KKU), which is in Khon Kaen, Thailand. This partnership is bound by a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the two universities, signed by President Floyd in 2012.

The now-retired Dr. Forrest Parkay was the faculty member – and main driver – responsible for the partnership. Forrest started this work as a Fulbright Scholar in Khon Kaen several years ago and the partnership has existed to this day. Most of the work involves providing pedagogical support to KKU’s Ph.D. program in Educational Administration. We’re in the latter half of the current five-year agreement, and now that Forrest has retired and key administrators at KKU are soon to retire, they’re interested in firming up the next arrangement.

This trip was to discuss the MOA renewal.

When KKU requested renewal, I met with Dr. Paula Groves-Price, Associate Dean for Diversity and International Programs, to discuss whether the college should continue the partnership. She and I quickly agreed that continuing this would be in the best interest of the college.

Thailand is a developing country. Khon Kaen, as the seat of commerce and government in the northeast part of the country, is a city on the move. While we have much to offer KKU, they have much to offer in return. Any faculty member who travels to KKU for work will not return quite the same. The experience will generate new possibilities. I find that some of the most rewarding and fulfilling aspects of international work include a new perspective and fresh set of ideas.

A schedule chock full of scholarship – and fun

While at KKU, administrators asked me to provide a two-day workshop to their Ph.D. students on the topic of research and evaluation. I found students to be eager, if not hungry, for new knowledge and skills that could enhance their professional practice. Most of these students are already school principals. Thailand is in the midst of an education reform, putting school principals in an important role as instructional leaders; a role they have historically not been expected to fulfill. The workshop was geared to developing school principal capacity as instructional leaders.

Students are also learning English. There were 20 students in the workshop, all with varying degrees of English skill in writing, listening, and speaking. I provided content, and set up group activities to apply the concepts. Once in groups, a student with a good command of English would lead the discussion and work, and do this in the Thai language. This lead individual would work to ensure that all group members understood the background material and task. The class presentations and products were done in English. I have always found teaching to be, in part, an intellectual activity. I was not well prepared for the language differences I experienced in the workshop. However, I found this aspect very interesting and students made it easy for me. It was a pleasure working with them.

This is not my first trip to Khon Kaen, or KKU. I visited in November 2001 to conduct a two-week intensive workshop on developing dissertations. I teamed up with Forrest for that work, which was done before a formal arrangement was established between the two universities. On that trip, I took my family with me. My wife accompanied me on the current trip. We were able to spend time eating with people we got to know back in 2001. This was good fun and a highlight of the trip for us.

Looking forward

Our college worked with Dr. Asif Chaundry, Vice President for International Programs at WSU, to begin thinking about a renewed partnership. Paula and I also came to the conclusion that there is a good deal more the College of Education could offer to the partnership, and that the college would be better served if the partnership was managed in a similar way as is done with the Nishinomiya, Japan partnership. A key feature would be an open, transparent process for who would work with KKU at any given point of time. In addition to supporting their Educational Administration doctoral program, other key areas in which we could collaborate, and be well received by KKU faculty, would be: STEM education, diversity, curriculum and instruction, and special education. Faculty and student exchanges could also be options. I spoke with KKU officials about these ideas and they conveyed strong interest in an arrangement like this.

In the next few days I will work with Paula to further develop the MOA document, building on Forrest’s good work, with an eye toward a new arrangement that both KKU and WSU will find beneficial. I am pleased with the college’s portfolio of international work. A new MOA with KKU will be a wonderful component to this work.

Our teacher shortage is a national crisis

Washington state is experiencing a significant teacher shortage in its public schools. The shortage is across all areas of K-12 and is particularly acute at the elementary level. With a deficit of approximately 7,200 teachers, the shortage is on an order of magnitude that is difficult to comprehend. Pasco School District, for example, hired 200 teachers during the summer. This is still 51 short of what they need. I have also recently heard that Yakima School District had (and may still have) 26 positions open with no applicants for any of them. I have received written testimonials from several other school district superintendents that are equally alarming.teachers_wanted

As anyone can see, a shortage of this size won’t be easily dealt with. And Washington is not the only state with this issue. With enrollment in teacher preparation programs down 30 percent across the country, there are many states finding it difficult to fill the ranks of their teaching workforce. Thus, this is a national issue.

The Professional Education Standards Board, or PESB, is moving in earnest to address the teacher shortage, working productively with school districts, teacher preparation programs, and the legislature. They have produced a number of documents that describe the problem, describe factors that have likely contributed to the decline in the number of teachers, and give strategies to address the shortage (See http://data.pesb.wa.gov).

While there are several factors that contributed to the decline, key for Washington was the downturn in the economy from 2008-2012, which froze the job market for teachers. Though significant retirements were predicted during this time, teachers chose to stay. Teacher preparation programs quickly found that their graduates couldn’t find jobs. In response, the legislature encouraged teacher preparation programs to reduce student slots. Those retirements that were predicted earlier are now occurring in very large numbers, surpassing even what was previously predicted. Coupled with the mandate to reduce class size, and the state is in a real bind. Rural and remote school districts are being disproportionately affected. And in this mix, throughout the state and country, is the very real shortage of teachers who are culturally and linguistically diverse.

Teacher preparation programs in the state have done a good deal of work over many years to increase standards and be selective. This was done based on calls made by reform-minded individuals and organizations, both inside and outside the teaching profession. As a result, the state is clearly providing better prepared teachers into the workforce. And as PESB mentioned in one of their documents, what we don’t want to do as a state is relax these standards as a policy mechanism to try and obtain more teachers. In a 2009 study of class sizes in California, published in the Journal of Human Resources, the authors found that the positive achievement benefits that accrue for smaller class sizes were diminished by allowing emergency credentialed teachers into the classroom who had not obtained regular credential coursework and student teaching experiences. This effect was even more pronounced for disadvantaged schools.

I suspect the college will be engaged with this challenge for a good while. So, where do we go from here? In an email I previously sent to the college, I mentioned some ways WSU is working to address this issue. One thing that is clear to me is that the teacher shortage is not just a production issue. This is also a career issue. While increasing pay and incentives to attract people to be teachers will be necessary, the country will also need to find a way to articulate teaching as a solid career choice. I don’t have data to substantiate this claim, but my own experience and intuition suggests that the reform efforts experienced by K-12 for more than 30 years, and the seemingly relentless chorus of criticisms of the teaching workforce that accompany these reform efforts, have also discouraged many young people from considering teaching as a viable career choice.

K-12 education is the largest item in almost all state budgets; thus, it receives considerable attention and rightly so. Washington state must continue to look for ways to better prepare teachers to productively work in a demanding profession. Our young people and local communities deserve and expect a quality education for all students. The economy depends on it. We must also re-ignite interest in a wonderful career; a career that has arguably been the backbone of our democracy and an essential component in the development of a prosperous, well-informed, and civil society. The stakes are high.

Ours is a college on the move

Mike Trevisan
Mike Trevisan

I am pleased and honored to be the interim dean for the Washington State University College of Education. After 19 years with the college, I know how both it and WSU work. I am fairly good at putting compelling arguments together, so you can expect that I will go to great lengths to advocate for the College of Education.

Based on feedback from my colleagues both inside and outside the college, here are the priorities I see for the spring term:

  • Our vision of “one college, four campuses.” I will regularly visit Spokane, Tri-Cities and Vancouver and, when I am home in Pullman, will stay in touch with faculty around the state.
  • Our slant towards R-1, the top tier of research universities. Our researchers collaborate with each other, with faculty in other WSU colleges, and with colleagues throughout the United States and beyond.
  • Teacher preparation. This is, and will remain, a core mission.
  • Educational leadership. One of our college’s greatest contributions to the state is preparation of principals, superintendents and other leaders through our certifications and Doctor of Education programs.
  • Development. Fund-raising is high on the list of the dean’s responsibilities, especially given the drop in state funding. I enjoy meeting with donors to explain our programs, contributions and needs.
  • Employee searches. We’re hiring a dozen new faculty and administrators this year.

I want to thank former Dean (now Distinguished Professor) A.G. Rud for his leadership, particularly with respect to the idea of “one college, four campuses.” His attention to all campuses has raised expectations for the College of Education. In addition, A.G. set the college on course to R-1 work. I continue to hear from faculty members that they appreciate this focus, as I did in my previous role as associate dean for research.

Ours is a college on the move. There is much work to be done. I know I’ll be working long hours, traveling a good deal, and getting lots of e-mail. (If you write, be patient! I will get back to you, though maybe not as quickly as in the past.) With an able leadership team and the top-notch support of Stacy Mohondro, assistant to the dean, I am optimistic that the college will do well in 2013.

Finding inspiration in Nishinomiya

Dean A.G. Rud
A.G. Rud

This fall, I was proud to be asked to visit Japan with four colleagues to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the partnership of the Washington State University College of Education and the Nishinomiya Board of Education.

The board had requested specific topics for this anniversary visit, so our faculty were chosen to share their expertise at faculty seminars. Tom Salsbury spoke on “Rousing the Will to Learn and Motivating Foreign Language Education,” Paula Groves Price on “School Management – The Independence and Autonomy of Schools” and Jane Kelley on “Immutability and the Educational Trends: The Potential of ICT Application in Classrooms and Preschool.”

Gisela Ernst-Slavit’s contribution was a meeting with the Nishinomiya Superintendent Akiharu Manabe, his associates, and me regarding a potential study abroad program for WSU undergraduate and graduate students.

For four days we visited schools in the morning and led our seminars in the afternoon. The agenda was packed, but stimulating. On Friday we all went to Kyoto. On Saturday, some of us went to downtown Nishinomiya for a festival and others, including me, went by bullet train for an unforgettable visit to Hiroshima.

Plans are afoot for a visit to Pullman by Japanese delegates in 2015, as well as a possible WSU study abroad program that could start as early as 2014. An additional partner, Mukogawa Women’s University, has approached us, and we spent a day visiting its campus as well as its junior and senior high school. MWU, which has a satellite campus at Fort Wright in Spokane, is an all-female private institution with many international satellite campuses. For developments on the possible study abroad program, contact Jane Kelley or Gisela Ernst-Slavit.

Faculty wave Cougar flag
Faculty show off the Cougar flag in Kyoto

In my Nishinomiya keynote speech, I focused on the challenges facing public education in the United States. In my farewell remarks, I commented on two topics that were on my mind during that week: hospitality in education, and food. I said, in part:

Hospitality to me is treating the stranger as a friend, and being open to that person or non-human animal. There is such suspicion of “the other” in our world and lives that it is refreshing, and humbling, to come to a culture that values hospitality and treating guests with openness and warmth. May we continue to see hospitality as an educational value, and have it in our teaching, learning, and leading in schools.

Secondly, I have noticed how healthy and freshly prepared Japanese cuisine is. Though I have eaten such food before in the USA, I did not think of it as a cultural value in the way I do now. Fresh food is good for one’s health, and we in America do not heed that common enough and undisputed advice. My country is experiencing an epidemic of weight gain, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other preventable diseases that can be traced in part to our consumption of processed foods. I learned this week not only of Japanese hospitality, but of the healthy body practices of this country that will inform my own life and my views on how we educate our children.

My colleagues and I are grateful for the inspiring time we had in Nishinomiya.

Research associate explores what teachers know about assessment

Dean A.G. Rud
A.G. Rud

There is much disagreement about how much testing is too much, and which tests are best. But we can all agree on the value of understanding test results. So I am pleased to report that the Washington State University College of Education has a young expert who is focused on finding a good way to detect change and growth in what teachers know about assessment and measurement.

Chad Gotch is a research associate in the Learning and Performance Research Center and a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling Psychology. He did his doctoral research under Professor Brian French, focusing on measurement literacy. I attended Professor Gotch’s dissertation defense and then sat down with him to learn a bit more about his important work.

He showed me a report, “Teachers’ Ability to Use Data to Inform Instruction: Challenges and Support,” that gave the steps he and like-minded researchers and policy makers believe are necessary for teachers to master to be able to use test data in their teaching. They include the following:

  • Find the relevant pieces of data in the data system or display available to them (data location)
  • Understand what the data signify (data comprehension)
  • Figure out what the data mean (data interpretation)
  • Select an instructional approach that addresses the situation identified through the data (instructional decision making)
  • Frame instructionally relevant questions that can be addressed by the data in the system (data posing)
Chad Gotch
Chad Gotch

Chad asks this question in his research: To what extent are teachers prepared to interpret test data, such as those provided by Washington’s Measurement of Student Progress and High School Proficiency Exam—or smaller tests that are woven into the curriculum—and use that information to improve instruction?

Classrooms in the state of Washington are becoming increasingly diverse, and teachers are facing the challenge of providing instruction to many different students from diverse backgrounds. If teachers get access to data about student achievement, they will be able to tailor their teaching to a particular student or group of students.

As teachers get more test results, they need to learn how to use that information. Chad expects that, ultimately, his research findings will be used in professional development programs and in teacher preparation programs such as ours. He notes that the kind of data-driven decision making that we want to see in our schools is already required of professionals in business, government agencies and universities.

Chad’s work so far has been supported by a College of Education Faculty Funding Award, laying the groundwork for what he and Brian French hope will be a large federal grant. What they’re learning, we need to know.

Washington (and WSU) take lead in sustainability education

Dean A.G. RudStanding before other future high school teachers, a WSU education student sliced up an apple that represented our planet. She picked up one slice, a mere 1/16th of the apple, and peeled it — then compared that sliver of peel to all of our topsoil. With this small fraction of Earth, she explained,we need to grow food for more and more people.

The engaging lesson impressed Francene Watson, a WSU doctoral student, instructor and a veteran teacher. She recalled it when we were discussing a new Washington professional standard for teachers. Standard 5 includes a requirement teachers to demonstrate that they can prepare students “to be responsible citizens for an environmentally sustainable, globally interconnected, and diverse society.”

This aspect of Standard 5 puts Washington ahead of virtually every other state in the country in that it explicitly identifies education for environmental sustainability as a responsibility of new teachers, according to Dawn Shinew, chair of our Department of Teaching and Learning.

“The state’s emphasis on sustainability provides exciting opportunities to incorporate more place-based learning into our teacher preparation program, engage our pre-service teachers in more community-oriented projects, and develop their understanding of their responsibility to students beyond bringing them to grade level in reading and mathematics,” Dawn said.

WSU student teacher works with children at a Palouse Pollinators workshop
A Palouse Pollinators lesson

The College of Education has made great strides toward “greening” our curriculum. One sign of that is our Palouse Pollinators workshops. Created with a big push from Francene, the workshops involve our student teachers with local school children. (Did you catch the related video of Kathryn Baldwin’s science methods students?)  College-wide, faculty members are incorporating sustainability into their work. For example, Susan Finley at WSU Vancouver, known for her focus on education for the homeless,wrote an article titled “Ecoaesthetics: Green arts at the intersection of education and social transformation” for the journal Cultural Studies—Critical Methodologies.

At the Pullman campus, and thanks in large part to Dawn’s efforts, WSU launched the Palouse Project, an initiative that brings together faculty from various disciplines to raise interest in sustainability education. On all of our campuses, sustainability is a important component of science education initiatives, including the WSU STEM Education Partnership.

One reason that Francene was impressed with that “apple slice” lesson was its message that protection of the soil is everyone’s responsibility. In the same way, I believe that teaching sustainability is every educator’s obligation.