- Year 2019
- NSF Noyce Award # 1758345
- First Name Sheila
- Last Name Vaidya
- Discipline Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Math
Donald McEachron, Drexel University, School of Biomedical Engineering and Health Sciences; Shari Maskow, Drexel University, Chair of the Mathematics Department, College of Arts and Sciences; MaryJo Grdina, Drexel University, Science Educator, School of Educator
Sheila R. Vaidya, Drexel University; Donald McEachron, Drexel University
There is a strong need in establishing understanding for all teachers about teaching in high need schools. High needs schools have challenges such as inadequate resources for the teaching of STEM subjects as well as an understanding of how to connect with the cultural backgrounds of diverse students. There is extensive literature. However, educators have to convert the literature into STEM classroom pedagogy. This requires a collaborative group effort.
Increase the number of well-prepared STEM middle years teachers serving in high need schools in the Philadelphia area. ii. Recruit targeted undergraduates from Mathematics and Science majors into middle school teaching. iii. Focus on developing among teachers critical skills needed in urban schools as identified by our urban partners. These are: cultural competency, growth mindset, content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. iv. Combine theory with significant practice and coaching of concrete skills identified by local schools as most critical. v. Emphasize extensive fieldwork and clinical experience as the main driver of teacher development vi. Ensure training occurs in authentic, local urban school environments ideally the same where candidates will go on to teach.
The program design is conceptualized from the collective experience of previously run Noyce programs, Teacher Educators at Drexel University, Teachers in the School District of Philadelphia. It is designed to include an Education Minor with certification and field experiences including immersive residencies in place of the usual Drexel co-op (cooperative education at Drexel University). Drexel students will be prepared to become middle grade teachers in the dual areas of Mathematics/Science or just Mathematics or Science. The curriculum and learning experiences are designed with the idea of developing Essential Core and Competencies consisting of cultural competency- knowledge related to working in high need schools-understanding students’ cultural communities as a foundation for classroom culture and building strong relationships; pedagogical knowledge, disciplinary content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge and facilitating a growth mindset (Dweck, 2006) that is developing the thinking that all students can learn and that learning ability can be enhanced and developed. In addition, our program integrates extensive fieldwork, incorporates urban school pre-residency and residency requirements, professional development, mentoring and community building to support our students during their pre-service and in-service years. The program is thus entrenched in the belief system that teachers are best prepared when theory and research is intertwined with experience-based learning in the field with critical evaluation points and feedback for improvement. An inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning pairs well with the goals of the program. With inquiry-based learning, knowledge and skills are acquired by empowering students to ask questions about new resolutions and issues while they are gaining new information. The inclusive nature of the program, highlighted by an emphasis on ‘Cultural Competency’, and the open-minded nature that comes with a ‘Growth Mindset’, creates the perfect arena for inquiry-based learning to thrive. Because DTMY deliberately develops the social and emotional intelligences of its residents, it ensures that residents can understand and relate to low-income urban Philadelphia students and their communities. This will allow the program’s Noyce residents to encourage learners to actively push for a deeper understanding by asking thoughtful questions, giving and receiving feedback, and purposefully reflecting on their own development, all of which is required for students to be able to master the rigorous expectations called for in Common Core State Standards.
Key outcomes: Well prepared STEM teachers for the middle school. Also, advancement in the knowledge of Teacher Preparation STEM programs for the middle school.
STEM career opportunities for math and science students which can result in broader impact for the country and society. 1. The most immediate benefits of our proposed project will be the highly trained mathematics and science teachers with subject area expertise able to engage urban students, support and maximize achievement. However, if the approaches we utilize are broadly applicable and able to be transferred to other high needs schools, the long-term and far reaching benefits to society will be sustainable approaches to developing students in high needs schools for STEM careers.