to try out new approaches in different situations and get feedback on the use of new ideas, skills, tools, and behaviors; to reflect on the experiments and experiences of teaching science, and then to revise and try again.

Teacher learning is analogous to student learning: Learning to teach science requires that the teacher articulate questions, pursue answers to those questions, interpret information gathered, propose applications, and fit the new learning into the larger picture of science teaching.

These suggestions for preservice and inservice professional development do not dictate a certain structure. They could be met in a college course, a sustained inservice workshop or institute, a residency in a science-rich center, a seminar for new teachers, a teacher study or action research group, or a teacher network. It is the nature of the learning situation that is important, not the structure.

Professional Development Standard C

Professional development for teachers of science requires building understanding and ability for lifelong learning. Professional development activities must

  • Provide regular, frequent opportunities for individual and collegial examination and reflection on classroom and institutional practice.

  • Provide opportunities for teachers to receive feedback about their teaching and to understand, analyze, and apply that feedback to improve their practice.

  • Provide opportunities for teachers to learn and use various tools and techniques for self-reflection and collegial reflection, such as peer coaching, portfolios, and journals.

  • Support the sharing of teacher expertise by preparing and using mentors, teacher advisers, coaches, lead teachers, and resource teachers to provide professional development opportunities.

  • Provide opportunities to know and have access to existing research and experiential knowledge.

  • Provide opportunities to learn and use the skills of research to generate new knowledge about science and the teaching and learning of science.

[See Professional Development Standard A]

The primary job of a teacher is to promote learning, and it follows that teachers themselves are dedicated learners. Lifelong learning by teachers is essential for several reasons. One obvious reason is to keep current in science. Teachers do not leave preservice programs with complete understanding of all the science they will need in their teaching careers, and they need to continue to clarify and deepen their understanding of the science content that is part of their teaching responsibility.

Another reason teachers must have the opportunity to continue to learn is made clear by the observation that tomorrow's students will have markedly different needs from today's students; even today's employers require employees who can frame problems and design their own tasks, think critically, and work together.

[See Professional Development Standard B]

Teaching itself is complex, requiring constant learning and continual reflection. New knowledge, skills, and strategies for teaching come from a variety of sources—research, new materials and tools, descriptions of best

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement