A Role Identification Activity to Support Science Teacher Leaders in Identifying Professional Learning Needs

by Sara C. Heredia, University of North Carolina at Greensboro; Michelle Phillips, Exploratorium; Sarah Stallings, University of North Carolina at Greensboro; & Ti'Era Worsley, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Abstract

Science teacher leadership has been identified as an important factor in the improvement of science education. However, there is wide variation in how leadership roles are assigned or taken up by science teachers. This makes designing professional development for science teacher leaders challenging. In this article, we present an activity designed to support science teacher leaders in identifying the leadership roles they occupy and the roles they would like to develop further through professional development. We present data from a group of science teacher leaders who participated in a professional learning program supported by a large science museum. Based on the data we collected, we provide a snapshot of how we interpreted that data and identify professional learning needs and possible resources for the science teacher leaders in the program.

Implementing a Mentoring Program for Beginning Secondary STEM Teachers: Conceptualization and Lessons Learned

by Lara Smetana, Loyola University Chicago; Krishna Millsapp, Loyola University Chicago; Megan Leider, Loyola University Chicago; & Mark Johnson
Abstract

The importance of attending to teachers’ transition from student to teacher (i.e., induction period) is increasingly recognized. This article describes efforts to develop, implement, and iteratively revise a mentoring program for beginning secondary science and mathematics teachers. We explain the conceptualization of the program in terms of four dimensions of teachers’ professional practice and varying mentoring approaches and formats. Examples of mentoring program components illustrate the program design. Lessons learned from the first 2 years are explored utilizing participant data as evidence. Plans for our program are discussed as well as implications for other teacher education programs.

STEM Teacher Leader Collaborative: A Responsive Professional Learning Network With Radical Hope

by Alison Mercier, University of Wyoming
Abstract

Many elementary teachers in the United States receive little to no STEM-focused professional learning during an average school year. When elementary teachers do participate in professional learning opportunities focused solely on STEM teaching and learning, they are often positioned as novices in need of improvement or instruction rather than colearners and cocontributors to the learning community. In this article, I describe the STEM Teacher Leader Collaborative as one way to address current challenges in STEM-focused professional learning and as an infrastructure for responsive teacher learning. I highlight the STEM Teacher Leader Collaborative as a model of a responsive professional learning network with radical hope, describing its guiding principles and the meanings teachers make of their experience within the network.

Supporting Inservice Teachers’ Skills for Implementing Phenomenon-Based Science Using Instructional Routines That Prioritize Student Sense-making

by Amy E. Trauth, University of Delaware; & Kimberly Mulvena, Colonial School District
Abstract

Widespread implementation of phenomenon-based science instruction aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) remains low. One reason for the disparity between teachers’ instructional practice and NGSS adoption is the lack of comprehensive, high-quality curriculum materials that are educative for teachers. To counter this, we configured a set of instructional routines that prioritize student sensemaking and then modeled these routines with grades 6–12 inservice science teachers during a 3-hour professional learning workshop that included reflection and planning time for teachers. These instructional routines included: (1) engaging students in asking questions and making observations of a phenomenon, (2) using a driving question board to document students’ questions and key concepts learned from the lesson, (3) prompting students to develop initial models of the phenomenon to elicit their background knowledge, (4) coherent sequencing of student-led investigations related to the phenomenon, (5) using a summary table as a tool for students to track their learning over time, and (6) constructing a class consensus model and scientific explanation of the phenomenon. This workshop was part of a larger professional learning partnership aimed at improving secondary science teachers’ knowledge and skills for planning and implementing phenomenon-based science. We found that sequencing these instructional routines as a scalable model of instruction was helpful for teachers because it could be replicated by any secondary science teacher during lesson planning. Teachers were able to work collaboratively with their grade- or course-level colleagues to develop lessons that incorporated these instructional routines and made phenomenon-based science learning more central in classrooms.