- Year 2016
- NSF Noyce Award # 1339947
- First Name Catherine
- Last Name Ulrich
- Discipline Mathematics
Bettibel Kreye, Virginia Tech, firstname.lastname@example.org; Anderson Norton, Virginia Tech, email@example.com; Megan Wawro, Virginia Tech, firstname.lastname@example.org; Jesse Wilkins, Virginia Tech, email@example.com
Catherine Ulrich, Virginia Tech, firstname.lastname@example.org; Bettibel Kreye, Virginia Tech, email@example.com; Gresilda Tilley-Lubbs, Virginia Tech, firstname.lastname@example.org; Jordan Pruett, Virginia Tech, email@example.com
One of the key deterrents students cite for applying to our Noyce program is the requirement to teach in high-needs schools. By the time our pre-service teachers (whether Noyce Scholars or not) leave our secondary mathematics licensure program, we want them to feel confident in their ability to be an effective teacher in a high-needs school. We feel that there are two key aspects of achieving this confidence: (1) field experiences in a variety of high-needs schools so that students know what to expect, and (2) skills that allow teachers to deal with the diversity of student populations they will encounter in high-needs schools.
Our goals are to prepare students to be effective secondary mathematics teachers in high-needs schools in Virginia by providing the necessary experiences and skill development during their teacher preparation program. The initiatives we will focus on in this poster are two-fold: (1) a co-taught course in Multicultural Teaching focusing on issues and strategies for teaching diverse student populations that emphasizes skills for working with English language learners (ELLs), and (2) placements in one urban and one rural high needs school during their program, when possible.
An overarching focus of our teacher preparation program is the use of “collaborative interdisciplinary endeavors” (Kaufman & Grennon-Brooks, 1996, p. 236) to help our pre-service teachers prepare for collaboration with future colleagues to more effectively plan for and adapt to student needs. In the case of working with ELLs, we want our students to have practice in bridging the gap between content knowledge and knowledge about working with ELLs that can plague the interactions between math teachers and ESL teachers. As noted by Pawan and Orloff (2011), “Collaboration between ESL and content area teachers is essential if the immediate and long term needs of ELLs are to be addressed” (p. 243). For that reason, one of our co-PIs, Dr. Kreye, co-teaches a course with an ESL faculty member in which math and ESL pre-service teachers collaborate in assignments ranging from classroom observations to lesson planning and implementations with ELLs in an after-school program. The faculty model an effective collaboration in addition to thoughtfully supporting collaboration between the ELL and math pre-service teachers. This course also discusses other considerations for working with diverse student populations, although the focus is on ELLs.
In addition, we have strengthened our partnerships with two local school system that have a high percentage of high-needs schools. One has a high population of students from rural areas whereas the other has students who are from a more concentrated urban environment (Roanoke). Dr. Kreye oversees these placements and is able to reinforce ideas and strategies discussed in Multicultural Teaching.
So far we have been pleased by the performance of our pre-service teachers in effectively planning for and implementing lessons with diverse student populations in both Multicultural Teaching service learning projects and their field experiences in high-needs schools. This has been demonstrated by their end-of-program portfolios. In addition, we have been pleased to see both our Noyce and non-Noyce graduates confidently apply for and accept positions in high-needs schools in our partnering school districts and elsewhere. We hope to see increased retention of our Noyce Scholars, in particular, in their high-needs schools once their Noyce teaching commitment is fulfilled. However, we will not have this data available for several years. In addition, we hope to analyze interview notes from our external evaluator to see if these initiatives emerge as effective from our alumni’s points of view.
In a broader sense, these initiatives are changing our overall teacher preparation program in ways that should serve us well after our Noyce funding is gone. The co-taught course and associate service learning will continue. The Methods courses have started to incorporate requirements for ELL accommodations in lesson planning, strategies for building on the diversity of student extra-curricular experiences and skills, and strategies for supporting explicit discourse norms that can ease the varied expectations of teachers and students when working with a diverse student population. Finally, both the service learning and increased student placements in partnering school districts has strengthened our relationships and contacts in these districts in ways that will benefit the program for years to come. As one example, both school districts have recently begun offering our Noyce Scholars early contracts.
Drs. Kreye and Tilley-Lubbs have already begun disseminating information about their course in several presentations and an in press article.