- Year 2019
- NSF Noyce Award # 1340006
- First Name Elaine
- Last Name Howes
- Discipline Geosciences
Elaine Howes, American Museum of Natural History, firstname.lastname@example.org; Jamie Wallace, American Museum of Natural History, email@example.com
Scholars argue that culturally responsive teacher education is crucial for supporting effective teaching in high-need schools, which commonly serve immigrants, students from families in poverty, and students whose home cultures are different from the teaching population’s (Santamaria, 2009; Villegas & Lucas, 2007). Theoretical perspectives and recommendations concerning culturally responsive teacher preparation have been available for decades (Gay, 2010; Johnston, et al., 2017; Ladson-Billings, 1995, 2017), and research is beginning to show its impact empirically (Brown, 2017; Byrd, 2016; López, 2017). These findings support the conviction that culturally responsive teaching matters for students’ success and should be forefronted in programs that prepare teachers for high-need schools. The Culturally Responsive Education Professional Learning Group (CRE PLG) involves our program’s graduates in the development of and inquiry into culturally responsive education in their science classrooms. The central goal of this collaborative inquiry group is to apply theory and recommendations concerning culturally responsive teaching to science teaching in high-need classrooms. While the field of science education reflects a strong consensus on what student activity in science classrooms should look like (Lee, Quinn, & Valdés, 2013; NRC, 2012; NGSS Lead States, 2013; Windschitl & Stroupe, 2017), the CRE PLG has found a lack of useful instructional strategies for culturally responsive science teaching. The CRE PLG is also exploring the overlap between culturally responsive teaching and high-leverage teaching practices (Kloser, 2014; Larkin, 2017; Roth et al., 2018; Windschitl et al., 2012), and is working to describe examples of effective teaching implemented through culturally responsive high-leverage practices that “simultaneously promotes rigorous disciplinary activity and is responsive to all students” (Thompson, et al., 2016).
The objective of the study is to explore teachers’ learning from their participation in the CRE PLG. Our overarching research question is: What do teachers think, do, and learn about their practice in the context of culturally responsive science education? The work of the CRE PLG is collaborative, and largely determined by its teacher members. The study analyzes data provided by 1) audio recorded interviews with the individual teacher participants, 2) video recorded CRE PLG meetings, and 3) responses to open-ended questions at the end of the meetings. In particular, this poster will provide an analysis of the teachers’ “stories from the field,” a regular segment of the meetings that asks teachers to report on their current classroom and/or school experiences illustrating their learning and their actions in the context of the CRE PLG.
The tenets of this collaborative project are based in the claims that the most effective professional development experiences for practicing teachers are ongoing within a community of teacher learners, and feed into and feed off of their everyday classroom instruction (Borko, 2004; Loucks-Horsley et al., 2009; Roth et al., 2018). Additionally, research in teacher education (e.g., Darling-Hammond et al., 2005; Feiman-Nemser et al., 2014; Hammerness & Klette, 2015; Guha et al., 2016; Zeichner & Conklin, 2005), indicates that linking theory with practice is made possible when professional development experiences provide opportunities for candidates to reflect upon their teaching experiences in light of the theory they are learning while also using their professional development to inform their teaching. Participation in the project’s collaborative inquiry efforts is building these teachers’ research capacities, while also grounding their work in close engagement with their network of Noyce graduates. Their participation is central to the study and to the research, as their work draws upon their own perspectives and expertise as educators in their city’s high-need schools (Capobianco, Lincoln, Canuel-Bowne, & Trimarchi, 2006; Feldman, 1999). Because the teachers are working ‘on the ground,’ their voices and experiences are invaluable in the exploration of program components and the impact of those components on their persistence and teaching practices (Keys & Bryan, 2001). This exploratory research design uses qualitative data sources (interviews meeting notes, and teacher reflections) and analysis resulting in a multiple-case study (Yin, 2003; Stake, 2006) containing a collection of individual case studies by teacher. The project team will use a qualitative approach to create individual case studies for each of the teachers, allowing for an in-depth exploration of teachers’ understanding of culturally responsive teaching and how it is represented in their instruction (Stake & Munson, 2008; Thomas, 2006; Yin, 2015). Various coding techniques will be used to identify and clarify themes that surface across the cases.
As the MAT program continues to graduate more certified and well-qualified Earth science teachers (94 as of October 2018), the program’s preservice and induction components both benefit from the presence of a growing, collaborative community of Earth science teachers from the AMNH MAT program. Through research and self-study, the program has revealed that one of the most valuable teaching resources, from the graduates’ perspective, is their cohort and other graduates from the program. Grounded in high-leverage science teaching practices and the NGSS science practices as outlined in the program’s MAT Observation Rubric, the group is creating ways in which strategies and protocols can be designed and implemented in culturally responsive ways, focusing on the assets that students bring from their communities and their cultures. Participants are involved in the development of video cases (including classroom video, lesson plans, and collaborative research summaries) focused on shared images of science teaching practices that support NGSS expectations in culturally responsive instructional contexts. The video cases are designed for professional development use in and across the preservice and inservice aspects of the program.
The great majority of teachers of students in poverty are white and middle-class (Hyland, 2005; Picower, 2009). Furthermore, students in high-need settings have fewer qualified and committed teachers than students in financially privileged settings (Kirchhoff & Lawrenz, 2011). The work of the CRE PLG in learning about culturally responsive science education contributes not only to our theoretical understanding of teacher learning but to actual resources for teachers in their own understanding and implementation of culturally responsive education.