- Year 2017
- NSF Noyce Award # 1340006
- First Name Elaine
- Last Name Howes
- Discipline Geosciences
Elaine V. Howes and Jamie Wallace, American Museum of Natural History, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Being a new science teacher is challenging. Teaching in research-based ways that demand attention to students’ ideas, cultures, and experiences adds a layer to that challenge, but can also result in classrooms where new teachers are more successful in supporting their students’ learning. We propose that the core science teaching practice of eliciting, assessing, and using student thinking about science (Kloser, 2014) helps teachers to attend to classroom environment and student learning goals simultaneously. Our study of our graduates’ instruction in reference to this practice illuminates how they are implementing what they have learned about teaching up to this point in their careers. We hope that what we have learned through this study will be interesting to other Noyce participants as they work to develop preservice and inservice teacher education for teachers in high-need schools.
Our program is developing several case studies of our graduates’ practice in order to inform our preservice program as well as our two-year induction program. From these case studies, a cross-case analysis will help us understand what our graduates are learning from their preservice and induction experiences, and how what they are learning plays out in their teaching. The study presented here focuses on two of these case studies, which examine how our graduates are implementing the core science teaching practice of eliciting, assessing, and using student thinking about science (Kloser, 2014). At the Noyce Summit, we hope to use this opportunity to engage in serious discussion about, primarily, how our understanding of core practices; for example, eliciting, assessing, and using student thinking about science might play out in high-need urban classrooms.
The belief that teacher education should be grounded in the actual work of teaching is currently represented in a rich discussion concerning what ‘core practices’ are most important for new teachers to learn (McDonald, Kazemi & Kavanagh, 2013). This case study examines the teaching of graduates from an urban residency program that prepares science teachers for our state’s high-need schools, adding to the conversation about what these practices should ‘look like.’ Our study draws upon multiple sources of data to develop portraits of teachers’ practice (Stake, 2008; Yin, 2014). Our research is designed to inform our preservice and inservice programs; thus, our research is embedded in the action research tradition (Carr & Kemmis, 1986, 2013; Loughran, 2007). This analysis draws on data from classroom teaching of two program graduates including classroom observations, recorded debriefing conversations, and documents generated through participants’ instructional practice.
Our findings indicate that our graduates believe that it is important to know what their students are thinking throughout a unit of study. The carry out formative assessment through written work and through one-on-one discussions with students as they work in groups. One teacher made constructing explanations (Quinn, Schweingruber, & Keller, 2012) central to her instruction, and spoke in depth about her students’ struggles and progress with this science practice. There was a desire from both teachers to engage in rich classroom discussion. However, neither envisioned or supported classroom discourse in which all students participate in creating a public construction of science ideas. As we continue this research, we are adapting our course work and induction practices to support our new teachers better in the core practice of eliciting, assessing, and using student thinking. We will report on these changes as part of this presentation.
The Noyce Summit provides a unique opportunity for those of us who are supporting teachers in high-need settings to learn more about supporting our new teachers so that they thrive in challenging environments. We are also interested in learning how others learn from and with new teachers about how to better support their students. This session provides an opportunity to engage in conversation about how to teach core practices in preservice teacher education, as well as how to support new teachers in implementing what they have learned in their teacher education programs when they venture out into their school settings. We have begun reporting on this work at national education conferences, and are working toward publication. We look forward to this opportunity to share our research and how it is influencing our program?s development.