- Year 2018
- NSF Noyce Award # 1557211
- First Name Carol
- Last Name Johnston
- Discipline Other: STEM, STEM
, Mount Saint Mary’s University-Los Angeles
Recruitment of students into the Noyce programs remains a difficult task. In our initial proposal for the MSMU Noyce Grant, we planned for quarterly meetings with the scholars and others as a way to both recruit new Scholars and to retain current Scholars. In our first year of the grant, these meetings led to some success in that 2 or 3 new Scholars for Year 2 had attended a meeting prior to applying for the scholarship. While recruiting the number of scholars anticipated is still a challenge (partly due to the unanticipated drop in STEM students in our recent entering freshmen classes), we are finding that our goals toward retention are more promising. As the number of invited guests that have asked to continue to participate in future meetings has grown, we are recognizing a need for new teachers to have opportunities to share with one another the joys and challenges of teaching, particularly those in high need schools.
Each of our 3 quarterly meetings for the 2017-18 academic year included opportunities for prospective and new teachers to learn from each other. Our September meeting focused mainly on recruiting new scholars. Due to the positive response to the roundtable, particularly noting the student comments about really finding it helpful to hear the stories from the more veteran teachers in the room, mostly our team members, we decided to continue with roundtable discussions in our future meetings. To have a new focus for our January meeting, we invited 2 local teachers in their first year or two of teaching. In our April meeting, we again invited a panel of teachers to spark a larger round-table discussion. Three recipients of the Carlston Family Outstanding Teacher Awards shared their experiences and rewards in working in high need schools, followed by a group question and answer session and then time for individual conversations.
Surveys for participants at each of our quarterly meetings have been used to determine what is most (and least) appreciated by our scholars and other attendees at our meetings. The questions also focus on whether or not the activities positively influenced the participant’s desire to become (or remain) a teacher. Since we want to also use these meetings as recruitment opportunities, we are especially interested in gaining the feedback from students who are not scholars, but attended the meetings in order to learn more about the Noyce scholarship and/or opportunities related to teaching.
Scholars and Potential Scholars have found it useful to hear more about teaching. Several undergraduate students had not considered teaching because they did not think there were jobs available, despite reports that California (and other states) are anticipating severe teacher shortages, particularly in STEM fields. In addition, many commented about the passion that they felt from the teachers who shared their experiences, which motivated them to want to learn more about teaching.
The teaching profession is often portrayed in negative contexts. In addition, while our undergraduates have much experience with the classroom, we cannot assume that they know anything about what it means to teach at the secondary level. Sharing the joys (and challenges) of teaching can be helpful for getting students to consider teaching careers.