- Year 2019
- NSF Noyce Award # 1439842
- First Name Jan
- Last Name Yow
- Discipline Biology, Chemistry, Math, Physics
Christine Lotter, USC, email@example.com; Matt Irvin, firstname.lastname@example.org; Bert Ely, email@example.com
Jan A. Yow, University of South Carolina, firstname.lastname@example.org; Christine Lotter, University of South Carolina, email@example.com; Joanna Myles, Easley High School, JoannaMyles@pickens.k12.sc.us
SC-SMTL is important in that it develops secondary science and mathematics teacher leaders in rural districts. It fills the need for classroom content and pedagogical experts in rural districts who often lack that level of expertise due to their small size and financial constraints. This project responds to a gap in the research around the development of science and mathematics teacher leaders in rural areas.
The practical inquiry guiding this work investigates the work that science and mathematics teachers have completed as a part of a teacher leadership development program.
Based on our review of the rural STEM education literature (e.g., Anderson & Chang, 2011; Baird, Prather, Finson, & Oliver, 2006; Barley & Beesley, 2007; Friedrichsen, Chval, & Tuescher, 2007; Gilbert & Yerrick, 2001; Hannum, Irvin, Banks, & Farmer, 2009; Howley, Howley, & Huber, 2003; Irvin, Byun, Smiley, and Hutchins, 2013; Jimerson, 2004; Lowe, 2006; Monk, 2007; Picone, 2011; Provasnik, KwealRamani, Coleman, Gilbertson, Herring, & Xie, 2007; Zuniga, Olson, & Winter, 2005) and research on impactful professional development (Sample McMeeking, Orsi, & Cobb, 2012) as well as our extensive experience working with rural districts near USC, we designed a conceptual framework and professional development program to prepare mathematics and science leaders. The conceptual framework outlines the four areas of greatest need in rural areas, especially those in SC: reducing teacher isolation, increasing instructional quality, increasing retention, and creating instructional leaders.
The key outcomes are the teacher leader activities that MTFs have completed in the program aligned to the four areas of SC-SMTL’s conceptual framework. For example, all MTFs have presented at local and national conferences. All MTFs completed Project Based Learning units and shared with colleagues either through conference presentations or articles. All MTFs have completed the National Board process with 3 initially certifying and 15 completing the retake process. All MTFs have organized and delivered at least one STE(A)M Community Night in their districts with many competing subsequent STE(A)M Community Nights at the request and with funding from their districts. MTFs organized and delivered a 3-day professional development workshop for colleagues. MTFs are currently completing Cognitive Coach Training to enable them to further develop their skills to mentor colleagues and will soon develop Leadership Projects in their districts to develop local STEM teacher leaders in their schools.
Our model that addresses the professional development of rural science and mathematics teacher teachers has potential for addressing two critical problems: 1) the need for high-quality STEM teachers and 2) the need for effective teacher professional development in locales that lack access to required expertise. This approach can be replicated in other parts of the U.S. where isolated and resource-poor school districts struggle to find and develop high quality STEM professional development. Rural school districts in South Carolina serve populations ranging of up to 90% African-American so improving the quality of instruction in schools participating in this project has a significant impact on learning for underrepresented groups. Two dissertations and seven manuscripts are currently under development to share key findings.