Working Toward a Continuum of Professional Learning Experiences for Teachers of Science and Mathematics
Susan Mundry, Barbara Spector, Katherine Stiles, & Susan Loucks-Horsley
This monograph is the result of a one-year qualitative study conducted by the National Institute for Science Education (NISE) of reform-oriented interventions, structures, and relationships in preservice and inservice education of teachers of science and mathematics. The study investigated 61 initiatives of reform activity involving teachers of science and mathematics preservice and inservice. The project found that a lack of focus, coherence, and alignment within and across preservice and inservice programs exists and persists for a variety of reasons. The paper describes a number of issues that are contributing to the lack of quality within the preservice and inservice experience of K-12 teachers of science and mathematics and to a lack of coherence in these experiences. These issues range from a lack of shared vision among principal providers of teacher preservice and inservice, entrenched and isolated roles and responsibilities for teacher development, cultural differences, including between the providers and receivers of teacher development, incoherence in design and content of teacher learning, and lack of coordination among mechanisms for quality control of teaching.
The study explored how these issues have been addressed across the initiatives and found efforts to build common vision, develop leadership, and create collaborative designs for professional learning to be among those strategies in use. The paper suggests these strategies could be used by systems of higher education, schools and school districts, collaboratives, professional developers, and/or other groups of teachers, teachers of teachers, and community leaders to improve the focus, coherence, and alignment of professional development for K-12 teachers of science and mathematics, thereby working to create and sustain a life-long continuum of teacher education.
There is a remarkable number of "pockets of innovation" working in many parts of the country to build and support a continuum of teacher development. This study illuminates some issues that need to be addressed and some directions that, if taken, could create a coherent, coordinated professional development system for science and mathematics teachers.
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