find help, support, ideas, strategies, and solutions to their problems. Examples include professional science-teaching associations, state and local organizations, and telecommunications networks. Those types of groups provide safe and rich learning environments in which teachers can share resources, ask and address hard questions, and continue to learn.
[See Program Standard D and System Standard D]
Being a lifelong learner also requires that teachers have the resources for professional development and the time to use them. Such resources include access to formal and informal courses that allow them to keep abreast of current science, access to research on curriculum, teaching, and assessment found in journals and at professional meetings; media and technology to access databases and to analyze teaching; and opportunities to observe other teachers. Conducting formal and informal classroom-based research is a powerful means to improve practice. This research includes asking questions about how students learn science, trying new approaches to teaching, and evaluating the results in student achievement from these approaches. Conducting such research requires time and resources.
Professional development programs for teachers of science must be coherent and integrated. Quality preservice and inservice programs are characterized by
Clear, shared goals based on a vision of science learning, teaching, and teacher development congruent with the National Science Education Standards.
Integration and coordination of the program components so that understanding and ability can be built over time, reinforced continuously, and practiced in a variety of situations.
Options that recognize the developmental nature of teacher professional growth and individual and group interests, as well as the needs of teachers who have varying degrees of experience, professional expertise, and proficiency.
Collaboration among the people involved in programs, including teachers, teacher educators, teacher unions, scientists, administrators, policy makers, members of professional and scientific organizations, parents, and business people, with clear respect for the perspectives and expertise of each.
Recognition of the history, culture, and organization of the school environment.
Continuous program assessment that captures the perspectives of all those involved, uses a variety of strategies, focuses on the process and effects of the program, and feeds directly into program improvement and evaluation.
[See Program Standard A]
The professional development of teachers is complicated: there is much for teachers of science to know and be able to do; materials need to be critiqued and questions need to be researched; a variety of information and expertise needs to be tapped; and many individuals and institutions claim responsibility for professional development. However, for an individual teacher, prospective or practicing, professional development too often is a random combination of courses, conferences, research experiences,