How to teach the teachers

How to teach the teachers

On July 1 of this year, Robert Pianta, director of the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning and UVA psych professor, will become dean of the Curry School of Education. He takes over for David Breneman, who will co-chair a curriculum planning committee for the recently announced Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. Pianta joined the faculty in 1986 straight out of graduate school and has since spent his entire academic career at UVA. In the ensuing decades, Pianta gained renown as an expert on early childhood development, and was also acclaimed for his ability to raise funds—to the tune of more than $25 million—for various projects, including the center that he started in 2005.

Robert Pianta has long been crucial in winning grant money for the Curry School of Education; now he’ll take the reins as dean.

C-VILLE: Have you been able to figure out what your new daily work day will be?

Robert Pianta:
I see a lot of what I will do as dean as trying to facilitate the work of people and help us reach further both across the University and outside the school to leverage the talent we have to do bigger and better work. And then a lot of what I’ll be doing is fundraising for the school.

How do you think you’ll be able to use your new position to improve on what you’re already doing?

I’m really interested in thinking about how I can leverage the position of dean to form networks of teacher education programs that are interested in a more serious and rigorous look at the science of teaching and teacher education. Even though we train terrific teachers here, ultimately our biggest impact is going to be understanding what are the best ways of supporting and training terrific teachers and getting out there and helping other teacher education programs do that.

Did you have any hesitations about taking the job?

I was encouraged to apply for the position, and resisted it for a period of time. I was having a hard time figuring out how this all fits together but the more I thought about it—and there were some sleepless nights in that period—I finally got to a point of feeling like I can remain connected to the work here. The prospects of leading the school were very exciting to me. It’s a very exciting job, and a very exciting time for me.

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