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Five questions for Bill McDiarmid

Bill McDiarmid is the dean of the School of Education at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Founded in 1885 as the Department of Pedagogy, the School of Education was one of the first professional schools established at UNC-Chapel Hill. Today, the school has nearly 20,000 alumni, the third largest alumni base at UNC-Chapel Hill.

What was your first role working in education?
I was a Teaching Fellow at a bilingual secondary school in Athens, Greece.

What is one pivotal moment in your career in educator preparation that left a positive impact on you or others?
Watching teacher candidates whom I supervised and to whom I taught methods evolve over the course of a year teaching in classrooms.

Why did you decide to join Deans for Impact?
I was looking for colleagues who were as committed to evidence-based teacher preparation as I was and who were willing to take seriously the evidence that too many of the teachers we are preparing are not as effective – especially with underserved populations – as they must be. I grew weary of the “circle-the-wagon” position that too many in the profession took toward calls for more accountability. Our P-12 colleagues have lived in this world for many years. Why should we be any different? The caveat is that we should be held accountable based on valid and reliable measures of teacher preparedness and impact as well as student learning.

What most excites you about the opportunity to transform the field of educator preparation in the years ahead?
That we might actually improve the enterprise. Having been complicit in four decades of teacher education reforms (the Holmes Group, Project 30, NCTAF, NNER, HEA Title II, and Teachers for a New Era), we may now have the data and many of the instruments needed to measure our impact, identify where we are failing, make changes — and establish truly continuous improvement programs.

What is one surprising thing that everyone should know about the program you lead?
I don’t lead our program. I prod, question, cajole, challenge, and support those who do lead.  What is surprising is that we will, as of 2017, end our undergraduate program and open our five-year BA/MAT program that involves a year-long residency in a partner school.

Editor’s Note: This marks the first post in what will be an ongoing series featuring Q&As with all of the member deans of Deans for Impact.


Bill McDiarmid


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