Supported Site University of Arizona: Collaboration

Successes

  • Although our program resides solely in the College of Science, we enjoy a strong relationship with the College of Education. This model of distributed initial teacher preparation is the norm on our campus, with secondary teachers prepared in the Colleges of Fine Arts, Agriculture and Life Sciences, Science, Public Health, and Education.
  • A faculty member from the Department of Teaching and Teacher Education, in the College of Education, teaches one of the science-teaching courses in our program each year.
  • The director of the CoS TPP serves on the Professional Preparation Board, an organization made up of administrators from local school districts and faculty involved in initial teacher preparation on campus.
  • Faculty members in our program serve on graduate committees in the College of Education, and College of Education faculty serve on similar committees in the College of Science.
  • We have a cohort of some 120 area science teachers who serve as mentors to our prospective science teachers and host them for field experiences in our courses. These teachers helped develop the program curriculum and continue to advise us.

Challenges

  • As our program grows, we face the challenge of recruiting a sufficient number of mentor teachers to host all our students and avoid overloading any of our teachers.
  • Some school administrators have raised objections to having our students in their classrooms, for reasons including parental objections, lack of clarity regarding fingerprint clearance requirements for observers, and perceived lack of communication with the mentor teachers.

Sustainability/Institutional Buy-In

  • We have allocated program funds to compensate our mentor teachers for their time. Currently, all of our mentor teachers receive a stipend when they host our students; the amount depends on the level of time commitment.
  • The current model of distributed initial teacher preparation has the support of the upper-level university administrators.

Lessons Learned

  • Involving secondary science teachers in the initial design of the program has paid huge dividends in their buy-in and willingness to work with our students. They express a sense of ownership in the program and in the next generation of science teachers.
  • Looking for opportunities to collaborate with teacher preparation faculty in other programs has benefited our program, in terms of Lessons Learned and good will garnered.

 Activity Summary

  • To enable a College of Education faculty member to teach one of our science pedagogy courses each year, the CoS TPP covers the cost of release time for the education faculty member.
  • To build our cohort of science teacher partners, the CoS TPP Director invited them to grant-funded summer workshops over the course of the first three years of the program’s existence. At these workshops, we asked their advice on the initial structure of the program, solicited their input on the curriculum for the field experiences that are part of most of our courses, and involved them in creating supporting materials for videotapes of lessons from their classrooms. (These materials are used in program courses.)
  • During the first three years of the program’s existence, the CoSTPP Director invited teacher partners to attend monthly on-campus meetings, to share with them program updates and continue to solicit their advice. After the original grant ended, we use PhysTEC funds to support the teachers' attendance at four meetings each year. These meetings have evolved into a blend of program updates, discussions of local educational issues, and requests for help with educational research projects. Attendance at these meetings, which are at 4:00 pm on Fridays, is typically ~20 teachers, and attendees are always enthusiastic participants.
  • Both the adjunct instructors and the TIR recruit additional teacher partners when they are out in schools supervising student teachers and interns. As the reputation of the program has grown, we have also had science teachers contact us about being mentors to our students.
  • The funds to pay our teacher partners for their work with our preservice teachers come from a sales-tax-funded Workforce Development Initiative. These funds are secure through 2011, and we anticipate receiving two additional five-year renewals.
  • To maintain the high quality of host science teachers the CoS TPP director cultivates good relationships with both school and district level administrators. (Those two groups don’t necessarily communicate with each other.)