STUDENT UNDERSTANDING IS ACTIVELY CONSTRUCTED THROUGH INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIAL PROCESSES. In the same way that scientists develop their knowledge and understanding as they seek answers to questions about the natural world, students develop an understanding of the natural world when they are actively engaged in scientific inquiry—alone and with others.
[See Teaching Standard D]
ACTIONS OF TEACHERS ARE DEEPLY INFLUENCED BY THEIR UNDERSTANDING OF AND RELATIONSHIPS WITH STUDENTS. The standards for science teaching require building strong, sustained relationships with students. These relationships are grounded in knowledge and awareness of the similarities and differences in students' backgrounds, experiences, and current views of science. The diversity of today's student population and the commitment to science education for all requires a firm belief that all students can learn science.
Dividing science teaching into separate components oversimplifies a complex process; nevertheless, some division is required to manage the presentation of criteria for good science teaching, accepting that this leaves some overlap. In addition, the teaching standards cannot possibly address all the understanding and abilities that masterful teachers display. Therefore, the teaching standards focus on the qualities that are most closely associated with science teaching and with the vision of science education described in the Standards.
The teaching standards begin with a focus on the long-term planning that teachers do. The discussion then moves to facilitating learning, assessment, and the classroom environment. Finally, the teaching standards address the teacher's role in the school community. The standards are applicable at all grade levels, but the teaching at different grade levels will be different to reflect the capabilities and interests of students at different ages.
Teachers across the country will find some of their current practices reflected
A challenge to teachers of science is to balance and integrate immediate needs with the intentions of the yearlong framework of goals.
below. They also will find criteria that suggest new and different practices. Because change takes time and takes place at the local level, differences in individuals, schools, and communities will be reflected in different pathways to reform, different rates of progress, and different emphases. For example, a beginning teacher might focus on developing skills in managing the learning environment rather than on long-term planning, whereas a more experienced group of teachers might work together on new modes for assessing student achievement. Deliberate movement over time toward the vision of science teaching described here is important if reform is to be pervasive and permanent.