Our Philosophy

USF's Exceptional Student Education faculty developed a philosophy that guides our work:

Our Core Values

  • The appreciation of cultural diversity is a moral duty and an explicit feature of programming.
  • Persons in position of power should use their power to promote other's well being, not to protect self-interests. Educators need to be aware of and sensitive to the ethical implications of their use of power with students, families, peers, and those they supervise.


  • Learning results from a creative process of construction. New information and experiences transform existing knowledge and understandings. Learning experiences, therefore, need to be responsive to individuals.
  • Learning occurs best within the context of trust and mutual respect. Students learn best from persons whom they admire and respect. Trusting relationships develop over time, thus learners benefit from continuity in their relationships with their peers and their teachers.

Teacher Preparation

  • Collaboration with our colleagues in public schools is essential to the planning and delivery of quality teacher education programs.
  • Teacher education must take place within an ecologically valid setting that enables students to apply knowledge and practical skills.
  • Relationships with our colleagues in public schools should be mutually beneficial and collegial.
  • Reflective teachers are teachers who can learn from their teaching and continuously improve their teaching. While this is a skill that is natural to some, it is also a skill that can be acquired. Students should be informed at the beginning of their program that this is an expectation of them. They should have ample opportunities to receive and give feedback that contributes to the reflective process.

Candidates and Faculty for Our Teacher Education Programs

  • Teacher preparation programs should actively recruit candidates from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. This will enrich the discourse and level of understanding.
  • Likewise, the teaching faculty of teacher preparation programs should be diverse with respect to professional training, personal backgrounds, gender, and ethnicity.

Based upon these values and principles, and in accordance with the philosophy of the College of Education, the Exceptional Student Education program strives to educate teachers who are reflective practitioners, technologically proficient, professional, ethical, caring and committed to diversity.