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WGU Teachers College Learning Community Thought Leadership

Explore trends in the education professions in these interviews with thought leaders and difference makers on the forefront of change.

Catalyzing Conversations Across Education

Better Together: Five Education Resolutions for a New Year

Dr. Mark David Milliron, SVP WGU and Executive Dean of the Teachers College

This is pulled from a larger editorial by Dr. Milliron published in Real Clear Education here. These five resolutions will form the basis of many catalytic conversations, interviews, and articles from educational leaders that you will find here in the Learning Community in 2022.

1. Catalyze Conversations on Digital Learning Infrastructures

Finding and implementing solutions to remove barriers to digital access and affordability is paramount in keeping students engaged, motivated, and successful in learning. A digital learning infrastructure is no longer a luxury – it is a core necessity.

2. Reimagine our Learning Models

One reimagination worth exploring is whether grades should remain the dominant mode of assessment and progression. Mastery learning allows educators to build a system of learning where students can learn well without the shame, blame, and gaming of the system all-too-often associated with high-stakes grading models.

3. Strike a Thoughtful Balance on Educator Self-Care and Professional Development

Many pandemic-era teaching issues, such as frightened and confused students, technology problems, and having to learn entirely new systems, are linked to significant job-related stress, depressive symptoms, and burnout. There can be real value in providing professional development that helps with self-care strategies and with skill-building aimed at helping teachers make the most of new technical systems.

4. Champion Healthy Learning

Now more than ever, it’s time for education leaders to prioritize healthy learning. Our conception of a healthy learning environment for schools, colleges, and universities involves the braiding together of often single-stranded and isolated initiatives involving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); social and emotional learning (SEL); mental health; basic needs; and character education, civility, and thriving.

5. Embrace Regional Educational Ecosystems

The more that we unpack and examine what constitutes effective learning systems for striving students, the more we come to understand that all parts of a regional education ecosystem—early learning, K12, community colleges, colleges, and universities—are interconnected. Each of these interconnected elements either effectively partners or painfully disrupts and disconnects education journeys.

 

These resolutions are dependent on our ability and willingness to work together. We need to get over our “better than” arguments and embrace our “better with” reality that we’re all in this together.  


Meeting this Moment by Pushing Teaching and Learning Boundaries

In the world of education, this last year of the pandemic and hard social-justice work has pushed us to try new things, rethink and reexamine long-held practices and beliefs, and begin to visualize a different kind of road ahead. This presentation reflects on this tumultuous time and a projection of the possibilities we now can champion around new learning models, teaching strategies, and leadership principles for engaging and readying students for an increasingly dynamic time in learning, earning, personal growth, and civic engagement.

Guests:

  • Stacy Caldwell, CEO Mastery Transcript Consortium
  • Rahim Rajan, Deputy Director Postsecondary Success, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Tom Vander Ark, CEO, Getting Smart 

Host: Dr. Mark Milliron, SVP WGU, and Executive Dean, WGU Teachers College 


WGU Teachers College: 20 Years from Idea to Impact

This fascinating panel discussion recalls the journey from past to present and into the future in WGU’s mission to transform lives through education. Celebrating 20 years of the Teachers College as part of the 2021 SXSWEdu activities, this group takes viewers back to a gathering of visionary governors looking to introduce the country to competency-based education two decades ago, all the way to today where explorations into stacking credentials are again reinventing education. 

The conversation is lively and peppered with insights and memories of those who took part in the journey, including alumni, education luminaries and governmental leaders. Enjoy the stories shared by these education difference-makers who disrupted a system to take us to new levels of achievement and access.

Guests:

  • Rahim Rajan, Deputy Director Postsecondary Success, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Tom Vander Ark, CEO, Getting Smart 
  • Dr. Sally Johnstone, President, National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS)
  • Dr. Marni Baker Stein, Provost and Chief Academic Officer, WGU

Host: Dr. Mark Milliron, SVP WGU, and Executive Dean, WGU Teachers College 


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Today's Classroom

This compelling and timely conversation was recorded as a Facebook live webinar. The discussion centers around complex subjects many teachers are trying to address successfully across the DEI spectrum. Viewers can experience many learnings from this recording. Focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the classrooms, participants share personal stories of challenge and triumph and provide observations for further discussion and reflection. Watch and learn more about how to tackle these topics in your classrooms. 

 

Guests:

  • Jason Thompson, Vice President, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, WGU 
  • Dr. Mamie Pack, Course Faculty Diversity and Inclusion, WGU Teachers College 
  • Dr. Mark Milliron, SVP WGU, and Executive Dean, WGU Teachers College 

Host: Dr. Aaron Popham, Dean and Academic Vice President, WGU Teachers College 


Culture Change: How to Leverage the Past to Create the Future of Education

Founded in 1873 as one of two HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) that enroll only women, Bennett College is steeped in tradition. From being the first Black college accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, to the activism and strategy employed during the civil rights movement, the women (Bennett Belles) of Bennett College have strong cultural beliefs.

When Dr. Suzanne Walsh was named president in June of 2019, one of her charges was to implement some dramatic change. In this presentation, Dr. Walsh shares her approach and how she relied on the past to bring people to the vision of a new future. She discusses important strategies and concepts including the increasingly popular conversation around ‘anti-fragility’ and how becoming ‘unbreakable’ and stronger through challenges is part of a resilient path forward. 

Guest: Dr. Suzanne Walsh, President, Bennett College

Host: Dr. Mark Milliron, SVP WGU, and Executive Dean, WGU Teachers College


Early College High School and DEI Success

El Paso Community College has had tremendous success with its Early College High School program, designed for the ‘bell curve’ of the community. In August of 2012, when current president Dr. William Serrata arrived at the college, there were six Early College High Schools in the program. Today there are 20 Early College High Schools with every school district in the El Paso region involved. 

The success has been phenomenal, with 72% of El Paso Early College High School students earning their associate degree prior to high school graduation compared to the national average of 22%. In this conversation, the EPCC President shares how setting expectations, working within communities and other strategies led to these successes while also keeping a keen eye on DEI. The results are a community of care that fosters K-20+ student success.

Guest: Dr. William Serrata, President El Paso Community College and President

Host: Dr. Mark Milliron, SVP and Executive Dean, WGU Teachers College

WGU News & Views

real education logo

Real Clear Education: 

The New Possible in Education

richmond times dispatch

Richmond Times Dispatch:

 A Competency-Based Path to a Degree

Book Shelf

The Teachers College community regularly discusses books of interest to the education professions. We'll post some highly recommended reads here for your consideration. 

book cover think again

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know, by Adam Grant.

book cover the extended mind

The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain, by Annie M. Paul.

Rising Thought Leaders: Alumni Podcasts

alumni podcast logo

Enjoy these podcasts from the WGU Alumni Association with our Teachers College graduates. 

Graduate Maureen Stover – episode 16

Maureen was recently named North Carolina Teacher of the Year, and was one of four finalists nationally for U.S. teacher of the year. Listen to her share how drawing upon the WGU model helps her in her classroom today.

Graduate Jillian Hernandez - episode 23

Fifth-grade teacher and Arizona Teacher of the Year finalist, Jillian reflects on her interesting pathway to becoming a classroom teacher. 

Graduate Winnie Obilor – episode 29

Winnie believes no matter where you live, education has a transformative power. Winnie talks about her capstone project designed to help underprivileged women in her home country the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Graduate Marah Jordan – episode 36

Marah shares her story as a community college transfer student, and her excitement at being a first-year teacher. Marah is currently working on her master’s degree in English Language Learning.