- Year 2018
- NSF Noyce Award # 1439761
- First Name Maria
- Last Name Varelas
- Discipline Other: Biology, chemistry, geosciences, physics
Daniel Morales-Doyle, University of Illinois at Chicago, firstname.lastname@example.org
Carole Mitchener, University of Illinois at Chicago, email@example.com
Aixa Alfonso, University of Illinois at Chicago, firstname.lastname@example.org
Maria Varelas, University of Illinois at Chicago, email@example.com; Daniel Morales-Doyle, University of Illinois at Chicago, firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a need in the Chicago Public Schools for teachers who can teach in ways that respond to the concerns, hopes, strengths, and needs of the communities in which they are located. This need is further contextualized by a sharp decline in the number of African American teachers in the Chicago Public Schools since 2002 as, at the same time, the percentage of Latinx teachers has not kept pace with a rapid growth in Latinx student population. Recent changes in the high school graduation requirement have also increased the need for chemistry and physics teachers in the district. Project SEEEC is a concerted effort to address these issues by educating new science teachers and by supporting experienced science teachers to become local and national leaders in urban science education.
The goals of Project SEEEC include: (a) preparing and mentoring 30 Teaching Fellows with an emphasis on African American and Latinx teachers and on chemistry and physics teachers; (b) supporting 10 Master Teaching Fellows who mentor Teaching Fellows while they pursue doctorates in science education; and (c) attending and exploring issues related to excellence, equity, and social justice in science education at both curricular and instructional levels. Activities include completing UIC courses, participating in programming led by community organizations, conducting and sharing teacher inquiry studies, and leading professional learning communities.
Our approach involves collaboration between UIC faculty, seven grassroots, non-for-profit organizations, and the third largest school district in the US. We use teacher inquiry/practitioner research to support new and experienced teachers as they develop their culturally relevant and justice-centered science curriculum and teaching practices. We draw on the concept of the ‘community teacher’ (Murrell, 2001) as we construct what this concept means in the context of high school science teaching, and we attend to the development of teachers’ sociopolitical understandings related to teaching and learning science and of their identities as science teachers.
So far, 26 TFs have earned a MEd and Illinois professional educator license, 20 have taught science for 1 or 2 years, and 6 will start teaching in Fall 18. All 20 practicing TFs participated in the 3rd Project SEEEC Teacher Inquiry Symposium sharing their year-long inquiries. TFs have presented at ASTE and been selected for participation in project STAR and as Knowles Fellows. Several TFs have engaged their students with opportunities related to collaborating NFPOs. The 10 MTFs were admitted to UIC?s PhD in Mathematics and Science Education and are successfully moving through the program, having completed their 1st or 2nd year. They have all presented at NSTA and one at NARST, and have all led Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) for Chicago Public School teachers. Among all 40 Fellows, 14 are Latinx, 13 African American, 31 people of color, and 29 women. The UIC project team has presented research at NARST and AERA, and manuscripts have been published or will soon be.
The project has contributed to the enrichment of UIC?s MEd in Science Education and PhD in Mathematics and Science Education. Most importantly, those who benefit are about 5,600 students per year taught by TFs and MTFs who continuously improve their practice through teacher inquiries, mentoring, and research engagement. As both TFs and MTFs develop as local and national leaders in community responsive urban science education, practices and curriculum they develop will impact more classrooms as their work is disseminated at local professional development programs within Chicago and regional and national conferences. UIC researchers will also continue to conduct and share research on educating community responsive science teachers at conferences and via publications, providing to the science education field much needed scholarship on equitable and justice-centered science teaching, learning, and teacher education. A videocase showcasing project SEEEC work is under development.