The goals of the program are:
- To create and support a corps of teachers and leaders
- To institute a culture of active and reflective instruction
- To improve teacher quality through vertical alignment within content and horizontal alignment within grade bands, meeting in small groups, and professional development to increase student achievement
These goals will be met by focusing the professional development in three specific areas:
Thinking about Teaching
Teachers will be involved in structured inquiry into their own teaching and growth using tools developed through educational research. As a cohort, they will meet regularly to discuss core topics of teaching and learning using current videotapes of their teaching. Fellows will be asked to videotape specific concept areas to see one another teaching similar ideas across grade levels. Monthly meetings will be focused on analysis of those videos and other artifacts from the classroom. Use of a protocol helps to build trust among teachers so that they can establish the role of “critical friend” as they reflect on each other’s lessons.
We see teachers assuming a leadership role both in the formal science classroom in their own school district as well as in an informal science site located in metro Dallas.
Leadership to Peers/ Leadership to the District:
Fellows will be asked to identify opportunities for themselves to take a leadership role within the district, in their building or with their peers. To facilitate this, fellows will read research based literature on educational leadership in science education and work with experts in adult learning and leadership to develop the skills that will allow them to help other teachers to become leaders, to be able to motivate other teachers, and to bring other teachers along the professional continuum.
Leadership in an Informal Science setting:
Research shows that learning science is a rich, complex, ongoing process that builds over a lifetime (NRC 2008; Sawyer 2006). Opportunities to learn science occur throughout the day and year, in a wide variety of settings, and through a range of experiences (NRC 2008). Several studies emphasize the important role of learning science in informal environments and provide clear evidence that these experiences can promote science learning and strengthen and enrich school science (NRC 2009; Phillips, Finkelstein, and Wever-Frerichs 2007). The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) advocates for informal learning opportunities for all students and recommends expanding these opportunities, especially for students from communities underrepresented in STEM fields. NSTA further recommends expanding the role of informal science institutions in the design and delivery of professional supports for teachers; building stronger links between pre-K–12 schools and informal science institutions; improving systems for measuring and assessing the impact of informal learning experiences; and providing greater recognition and support for informal science educators who represent a wide range of organizations and institutions.
Dallas has six informal science settings, including the Dallas Zoo, Dallas Arboretorum, the Frontiers of Flight Museum, the Texas Discovery Gardens, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center, Trinity River Audubon Center, John Bunker Sands Wetlands Center and the DISD Stem Environmental Education Center. Each teacher will be assigned an informal science setting and will design a project that will facilitate student science learning at the informal science site. These projects will be shared with all of our formal and informal partners.
Individual Growth Opportunities:
Each teacher has areas of their professional lives that they hope to grow to meet a need they see in themselves or their students. Each fellow will identify and pursue opportunities for growth based on their own professional growth plans. These might include developing their own professional development program, holding seminars in their schools, collaborating with other colleagues etc.