- Year 2017
- NSF Noyce Award # 1439817
- First Name Steven
- Last Name Fletcher
- Discipline Biology
Glenda Ballard, St. Edward’s University, firstname.lastname@example.org
David Blair, St. Edward’s University, email@example.com
Cindy Naples, St. Edward’s University,
Steven Fletcher, St. Edward’s University, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Texas STEM Teacher Circle Series was initiated in 2012 in response to current problems of local, state, and national concern. We know that there continues to be shortages of qualified STEM teachers in the classroom (Ingersoll & Perda, 2009). We also know that many urban, high-need schools have teachers who are not adequately prepared for the STEM content they teach. Additionally, many STEM teachers feel unprepared to teach to the new national standards that emphasize engineering as a core part of each STEM discipline. At the same time, many new teachers feel isolated in their jobs and leave after only a few years of teaching (Ingersoll and Perda, 2009).
In 2013, St. Edward’s University (SEU) received an NSF Noyce Phase II grant to examine how Noyce Scholar teacher induction support for extended periods leads to teacher leadership and/or other outcomes.
The key goals for this work are to A. Support new Science and Math teachers that have recently graduated from the SEU Noyce Scholars Program; and B. Explore ways to build teacher leaders through associated activities and meetings.
The key activities include monthly induction meetings with a variety of stakeholders related to STEM content, travel support for professional meetings and conferences, and online support mechanisms including video conferencing.
There are four principles of teacher learning that provide the conceptual framework for the present Teacher Circle. First, we know that learning about teaching is enhanced by working closely with peers in a community of practice (McIntyre and Haggar, 1993; Putman and Borko, 1997). Current research into how we learn has determined that the most effective learning is done socially – a central posit of inquiry-based teaching and a core value of the SEU School of Education (Brooks and Brooks,1997). We are also aware that teachers learn best by doing, and watching their own practice (Sherin & van Es, 2009). Finally, attention to evidence of student learning is an important teacher practice that has been the focus of many school reform efforts recently. These elements are
Findings from the last three years indicate that the Noyce Scholars who attended earlier STEM teacher circle meetings either A. decreased attendance due to other constraints (moved out of area, family concerns, lost interest, lack of time); B. Continued to attend and bring others to the monthly circles (colleagues, friends) or C. Left the field for other opportunities.
Next year, program staff will collect exit interviews and survey data to build a richer understanding for why and what happens as teachers mature past the first three years in the field.
The broader impact of this work is important to the field of inservice STEM teacher professional development and support. What happens after the induction years is a critical area of concern given the transitional nature of the profession at the moment. The physical and fiscal resources that are provided to help support new teachers are lost if they leave the field in 5 years. Children are also impacted by inexperienced teachers who are hired as replacements.
Faculty, Preservice teachers, inservice teachers, district personnel, homeschool parents, and other stakeholders in the central Texas region have been impacted by the work done through the STEM teacher circles. This work has been presented at local and regional STEM teacher conferences.