- Year 2023
- NSF Noyce Award # 1758419
- First Name Paul
- Last Name Heideman
- Discipline Chemistry, Life Sciences, Mathematics, Physics
Meredith Kier, Marguerite Mason, and Melody Porter
Joy Jackson, Paul Heideman, Meredith Kier, Marguerite Mason, and Melody Porter
Across the United States, there is disproportionate funding to public schools, leading to inequitable access to highly qualified teachers for students who are non-white and economically disadvantaged (Ingersoll & May 2012). It has been well-documented that disadvantaged schools have difficulty recruiting and retaining teachers (Boyd et al., 2004, 2011; Nguyen, 2021). Teacher attrition data indicate that teachers leave HNSs for a variety of reasons that include negative perceptions and assumptions about students within these schools and their behaviors (Tajalli & Garba, 2014; Thomas-Alexander & Harper, 2017), poor working conditions (Geiger & Pivovarova, 2018), administrative and teacher turnover (Tran & Dou, 2019), and high workload (Bettini et al., 2018). Substantially less research has captured why highly-qualified teachers may choose to enter and stay within these contexts.
What strategies support Noyce Scholars to choose and stay within HNSs?
This Track 1 Scholarships and Stipends Noyce project (Phase III) at William & Mary (WM) aims to meet a national need for talented STEM teachers who are prepared and committed to teaching diverse communities of students in high-need schools. A primary project goal is developing a new model to: (1) interest outstanding mathematics majors in teaching; (2) help students sustain an enduring commitment to STEM teaching; and (3) develop students’ ability to connect effectively with diverse communities. The project will work with the WM Office of Community Engagement to engage first- and second-year mathematics and science students in teaching activities and reflection. Working with WM community engagement staff, prospective teachers will explore issues of fair access to skills in mathematics and science for all students. These activities will expand preliminary research on factors that enhance the motivation of prospective teachers for STEM teaching. Once recruited into the Noyce Program, Noyce scholars will take two project-specific courses. The “How Students Learn” course will focus on teaching and learning skills and self-management. The other course, a Practicum in High Need Schools, will use early visits to high-need schools to help Noyce Scholars understand how skilled STEM teachers can effectively support student success. The project will also offer opportunities for experiences and courses in special education and teaching English language learners. The project will supplement cultural competency preparation in the curriculum with activities focused on equity-mindedness and working with diverse communities. Following the placement of new STEM teachers in schools, a mentoring program will engage teachers in skill-building and problem-solving in their first years of teaching.
To date, we have prepared 33 scholars. We have leveraged networks across campus including the Office of Community Engagement and affinity groups to recruit more Noyce scholars of color and diversify the teacher pipeline. We developed a new induction model, and have been collecting data on differences in outcomes between formal and informal mentoring models. One continuing pattern has been lower participation in the formal mentoring sessions, but more one-on-one mentoring by different members of our Noyce Team with individual scholars. In the current year, we have worked with past Noyce Scholars as post-induction mentors for our newer graduates in their first two years of teaching. A critical factor for all of our current Scholars has continued to be emergency supplemental funding due to the global pandemic (an approved change for our grant). These funding supplements are available to all of our scholars through an application on our Noyce program website, and all Noyce Scholars are informed about the possibility and reminded about this funding at approximate 2- month intervals. We conducted mentoring with new supervising teachers in high need schools to support their supervision of our Noyce Student Teachers. This follows one specific aim of the grant: providing professional development in the summer for five cooperating teachers (CT) who work with our Noyce Scholars during student teaching. We also have supported our Scholars to present and attend local and national science and mathematics conferences.
This project intends to recruit and prepare 33 new teachers who are licensed in STEM disciplines. STEM majors will be recruited from two pools: (1) Undergraduate STEM majors, including transfer students, who will gain licensure as undergraduates or through a fifth-year master’s program; and (2) Post-baccalaureates in STEM fields who will complete a master’s program in mathematics or science education. Recruitment will focus on regional institutions, including those with high proportions of underrepresented minority students. Prospective mathematics and science teachers will be supported in gaining certification in science teaching for grades 6-12, and in mathematics teaching for grades K-8 or 6-12. Partners include six high-need school districts. The project intends to continue to develop existing partnerships with high-need schools to prepare more cooperating teachers to supervise and mentor Noyce Scholars during student teaching. A key objective is to integrate the project’s data in a published model that can inform other programs to improve the recruitment and preparation of STEM teachers. Through the preparation of new STEM teachers and the development of a model to initiate and sustain commitments to teaching in high-need schools, the project has the potential to support societal goals of effective preparation of teachers for diverse communities of learners.