In order to inform the picture of the School of Education as a community of learners, we rely on Senge's (1990) definition of a learning community as one in which people at all levels are, collectively, continually enhancing their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning how to learn together. The School of Education embraces the notion of a learning community to include not only the faculty and candidates at Manhattanville, but also the administrators, teachers, and P-12 students who are affiliated with the schools and school systems that have become our educational partners and that host field/clinical experiences and leadership internships for our candidates.
A learning community is a group of individuals who share a similar vision of educational values and beliefs. As a result of this shared vision, a community of learners can work toward common goals. In addition, a community of learners, whose work and activities are linked to the organization, helps the organization grow. Through collaborative efforts, a community of learners creates synergy, a synchronized energy where the power of the group is more profound than that of any one individual. Covey (1992) wrote "The whole is more than the sum of the parts" (p. 37).
The units domains of competence of the Manhattanville learning community are the ties that bind faculty and candidates together in special ways, to something more significant than themselves: shared values and ideals. They lift both faculty and candidates to higher levels of self-understanding, commitment, and performance beyond the reaches of the shortcomings and difficulties they face in their everyday lives with a unique and enduring sense of identity, belonging, and place.
Our unit's domains of competence set our purpose of a learner centered, collaborative approach by which our candidates develop knowledge, dispositions, and skills deemed essential for the effective professional. As such, our purposes highlight the dynamic interaction between standards (the what of the professional education program), learning-teaching processes (the how of the professional education program), and learning community (the context of the professional education program). Our unit's domains of competence inform our approach to constructing a knowledge base for professional preparation based upon the professional standards of the New York State Department of Education, INTASC, NCATE, and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The New York State teacher standards serve as the basis for teacher preparation programs, for certification, for the state certification examinations, and for professional development.