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Educating Teachers of Science, Mathematics, and Technology: New Practices for the New Millenium
districts typically have assumed primary responsibility for inservice education. These programs too often are presented in the form of short (typically one-day) “workshops” that may not be sufficiently focused or grounded in practice to be useful to teachers. Or, teachers are sent to a teachers’ convention where they may attend or participate in sessions on a variety of related or unrelated topics, collecting teaching ideas that school officials hope they will be able to implement shortly after returning to their classrooms or share with teacher colleagues. If their content and pedagogical preparation has modeled teaching as a simple, straightforward enterprise—“teaching as telling”—then these teachers’ students may not be better off as a result of these kinds of inservice experiences. More than small changes, what is needed are fundamental changes in teachers’ content and pedagogical preparation and ongoing professional development (Ball, 1997; Loucks-Horsley et al., 1998).
INCREASING EXPECTATIONS FOR TEACHING AND LEARNING
The paradigm for teacher education outlined above was developed in and may have worked during an era when students and classes were more homogeneous and when the level of knowledge required of students was more basic. The approaches to teacher preparation described above and the patterns of inservice programs met the needs of a largely agrarian society and also worked later when schools were expected to prepare “citizen-students” to function as workers in an increasingly industrialized society. But current learning goals include expectations for much higher levels of knowledge and understanding about science (AAAS, 1993; NRC, 1996a), mathematics (NCTM, 1989, 2000), and technology (ITEA, 2000). In addition, these standards emphasize understanding as well as knowing content and the ability to undertake activities that are related to these disciplines. For example, the National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996a)3 call for teachers of science to
plan inquiry-based programs for their students.
guide and facilitate learning.
engage in on-going assessment that is appropriate for the new expectations for learning.
design and manage learning environments.
develop communities of science learners.
An elaboration of these six teaching standards can be found in Appendix A.