- Year 2019
- NSF Noyce Award # 1758500
- First Name Jeremy
- Last Name Aikin
- Discipline Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Math, Physics
Christina Grimm-Petriccione, San Bernardino City Unified School District, Christina.Petriccione@sbcusd.k12.ca.us
This project involves a collaboration between California State University, San Bernardino and the San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD), a high-needs school district in the Inland Empire. SBCUSD faces a high math and science teacher turnover rate as well as an overall shortage of well-prepared math and science teachers who are ready to teach in the world of Common Core Math Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. Pre-service teachers in our program are prepared for the diversity of teaching experiences they may encounter in the district, and are supported along the way to hone their skills in classroom management and in building a classroom environment that incorporates the Common Core Math and Science Practices.
Our work is guided by our desire to better understand the factors that, when present, produce a well-prepared and confident math or science teacher who is effective at improving student achievement. We envision that our Noyce program provides the continuity, support, and real-world experiences that help students seamlessly and confidently progress from undergraduates to credential candidates to new teachers in an induction program, and finally to third-year teachers with cleared credentials who are established at a school site. Toward this end, we ask the following two questions: 1. What are the factors that contribute to undergraduate STEM majors’ decisions to pursue, or not pursue careers in K-12 STEM education? 2. What is the impact of our program activities on Scholars’ experiences in their first year of teaching; specifically, with respect to job satisfaction, burnout, retention, teaching philosophy, and school leadership roles?
Our program is built around a support framework that involves partnering student scholars with district mentor teachers, monthly seminars for scholars and mentor teachers, and academic and career guidance and advising for scholars by university faculty. The mentor-scholar team enables scholars to become an active and integral part of a mathematics or science classroom, eventually facilitating classroom discussions and teaching the entire class of students. Mentor teachers provide feedback and support in lesson planning, questioning strategies, and in creating an engaged and active classroom environment. During monthly seminars, all mentor teachers and scholars meet to strengthen their partnership through professional development activities centered around building the teaching skill sets of the scholars and mentoring skill sets of the teachers. At the university, advising is focused on creating a smooth pathway to teaching for each scholar, hopefully with a seamless transition from undergraduate math or science classes into the single-subject credential program. This support is also meant to keep the scholars on track in the program and to help ensure that they are benefiting as much from the program as possible.
In Phases I and II, this program has successfully and substantially increased the number of well-prepared mathematics teachers in SBCUSD. Job openings for secondary mathematics teachers are much more limited than they were at the start of Phase I. This is very good news! However, there is still a significant shortage of well-prepared science teachers in SBCUSD, as evidenced by the numerous science positions that go unfilled each year in the district. Traditionally, few science scholars have been involved in our Noyce program, as compared to the number of math scholars. Thus, we have our work cut out for us to recruit more science scholars into the program in the coming years. Through a push in creative recruitment practices, we have doubled the number of science major scholarship applicants in Phase III from Phases I and II combined.
The impact of this project stretches beyond our partner high-needs district. Math and science education in the San Bernardino City Unified School District has certainly been positively impacted as there has been a marked growth in well-prepared new teachers filling vacant positions. Although difficult to measure, we believe this must have an effect on the college preparedness of the students graduating from SBCUSD. PIs and program personnel involved in designing support structures for both the scholars and the mentor teachers have been challenged to design these structures tailored to the needs of those involved in the program. This has certainly impacted our insight into the needs of both veteran and new teachers in the region. Since many of the program leaders also facilitate professional development for a large number of teachers in the region who are not a part of the program, we feel this shift in perspective has had a positive effect on teachers outside the Noyce community. Lastly, the need to increase the pool of well-prepared science teachers who are ready to fill the vacant positions in the region has challenged us to improve recruiting for the program. We have implemented a “pre” Noyce program that gives university students the opportunity to experience secondary STEM teaching before feeling obligated to choose this as their profession. Given this opportunity to broaden their horizons, several students have been so impacted by the experience that they have decided to pursue a career in teaching even though they at first did not consider this to be an option.