Research-based Methods Course for STEM Teacher Leaders
During 2020, Mercy College STEM Master Teacher Fellows experienced a graduate course in STEM Teacher Leadership. In this course, the Fellows successfully implemented research-based pedagogy methods to explore ways to support STEM learning in their K-12 classes. A major feature of the course was teachers were grouped vertically in professional learning communities (VPLCs) for this work. In this way, elementary, middle, and high school teachers worked together on a common method to apply, within the same content area, appropriate for their grade level. The methods were chosen based on a review of research articles selected by teachers. These vertical professional learning community groups worked together for weeks in an iterative cycle of planning, teaching and virtual observation of one another. Through a research-based feedback protocol, teachers provided and received feedback that supported growth and sharing of their work in their group and with their students. In this collaborative setting, Fellows established a STEM community of practice that pushed them to take risks in their content classrooms and deepen their use of integrated pedagogies. Furthermore, the course used a social justice lens for work and the Fellows demonstrated increased agency in their schools as they worked with other teachers and administrators to promote STEM integration beyond their classroom walls. Despite the extraordinary challenges of the pandemic, these Master Teacher Fellows were able to implement new strategies for teaching STEM while growing professionally and personally, and while helping colleagues. Fellows identified as teacher leaders as they navigated online teaching, issues of accessibility, and unpredictable teaching schedules. Their resilience shows us that developing collaborative, vertical professional networks strengthens Fellows' leadership even in times of crisis.
NSF Awards: 1758317
Presented in: 2021 (see original presentation & discussion)