- Year 2018
- NSF Noyce Award # 1136382
- First Name Stephen
- Last Name Witzig
- Discipline Other: STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
Dr. Tesfay Meressi, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Dr. Stephen B. Witzig
, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has been engaged in a multi-year partnership to train a cohort of Teaching Fellows (TFs) and Master Teaching Fellows (MTFs) as STEM Educators for the middle and secondary schools of Fall River, New Bedford, and Wareham Massachusetts, three cities struggling with poverty as they transition from a manufacturing economy to one based on knowledge and advanced technology. Low-income students in these three districts range from 50-77%. While success in the STEM subjects could provide a route out of poverty for many of these students, these students consistently score far below state averages when tested in STEM subjects. There is critical need in these districts to prepare STEM educators to engage the student population in STEM disciplines.
Our project has three goals: 1) to Deepen STEM content knowledge and instructional practices through myriad content-intensive learning experiences, 2) To develop critical 21st century skills through the active exploration of emerging technologies in STEM education, and 3) To develop teacher leadership skills via a collaborative approach, based on a proven model that utilizes peer-coaching, mentoring, and professional learning communities.
The approach that we have taken to address these goals include: 1) Graduate level STEM content and teacher licensure courses, professional development, and internship experiences for all TFs and MTFs, 2) Engagement in new technologies, such as iCreate, through the coursework, professional development and internship experiences, 3) teacher leadership specific graduate courses and experiences including teacher rounds in the TF/MTF classrooms.
We are currently in our seventh year of the TEACH! SouthCoast STEM program. We recruited 21 teachers from our partner school districts (Fall River PS, New Bedford PS, Wareham PS, Diman Vocational Technical HS, Greater New Bedford Vocational Technical HS and Global Learning Charter PS) and currently have 7 Teaching Fellows and 13 Master Teaching Fellows. In the first two years, participants completed either their Masters of Arts in Teaching and earned an Initial Teaching License (TFs) or completed the Teacher Leadership program (MTFs). In the next 5 years, the cohort members have participated in STEM summer internships, attended & presented at national/regional STEM conferences, and completed STEM graduate coursework to strengthen their content knowledge. In addition, they have completed professional development to strengthen their technology competencies, content knowledge, and leadership skills. Participants are currently finishing their internships and preparing a final portfolio.
The TFs and MTFs in our project have been able disseminate best practices from our innovative learning model to their district schools in the SouthCoast region of Massachusetts by way of sharing experiences in common planning time, during in-school professional development as well as through presentations in state and national conferences. Our participants serve as role models for the middle and secondary students in the region and knowing the impact a single inspiring teacher can have in a school, 20 well-prepared STEM teachers and teacher leaders in the region is truly transformative.