Dean, College of Education
University of Missouri-St. Louis
Dr. Ann Taylor serves at the dean of the College of Education at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. Taylor has been a teacher educator in the US for over 20 years. In the 1990’s as a faculty member at Principia College, she served as Education Department Chair and Social Science Unit Head. After moving to SIUE, she directed an urban Professional Development School site. Until 2012, Taylor served as director of SIUE’s undergraduate elementary education program, a position she held for over a decade. Between 2008 and 2013 she was part of the leadership team of the National Writing Project site at SIUE – Piasa Bluffs Writing Project- and served as its director for the 2012-2013 year. Out of this work, emerged her role as co-director of the Cultural Landscapes Collaboratory, or CoLab, a theoretical networked innovation community of National Writing Project sites fellows and informal educators (museums) who share a common approach and way of working. Taylor received her bachelor’s degree from Nottingham University, UK (Geography), her master’s from the University of Sheffield, UK (Education), a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from West Midlands College of Higher Education in Walsall, UK, (Geography and Chemistry) and a Ph.D. from Washington University in St Louis.
Joining Deans for Impact connects me to a network of educators and fellow deans with whom I can focus intently on determining what shifts we can make to teacher preparation to provide stronger teachers for our K-12 students. An organization like Deans for Impact, which is committed to evidence and coherence, and leaders who are asking big questions of themselves and each other can help us all do a better job.
I have had multiple experiences of working with a team of other capable professionals to solve the same problem. Whether it was initiating professional development schools across a district, redesigning an educator-preparation curriculum, or reimagining the practicum experiences into studio schools (formerly “student teaching” but in studio schools the locations, systems, and practices intentionally provide multiple candidates with ways to learn with and from multiple teachers in the service of student learning), the results have always been powerfully improved practices and more coherent educational experiences for all involved. Higher education can so often require our students to do the hard, isolated work of navigating across courses and content to sow together all their learning into a professional preparation. When adults form collaborative teams and intentionally design the whole journey, not just isolated parts of it, then I notice the curriculum is more coherent, the learners develop more expertise, and the learning outcomes are stronger.
I sat in my 2nd grade classroom intently watching my teacher, and somehow, I just knew I wanted to be a teacher shaping the learning journey of others. And so, naturally, my friends talked me out of it and so my first full-time job was as an analyst programmer for a multi-national insurance company, but within three years I had found my way back into an education class, and, as they say, the rest is history.