Fewer than half the 8th graders in the United States have a science teacher with an undergraduate degree in the field, according to data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. And in rural communities, that percentage drops to just 44 percent.
What is keeping highly qualified science teachers from entering the classroom? And how can districts and policymakers ensure that high-poverty schools are not left behind in science instruction?
The Education Week Commentary team compiled a great package of essays from thought leaders in the education field addressing these very questions.
For example, many school districts have reported teacher shortages in the past few years, and high school science and mathematics are traditionally the areas with the largest staffing deficiencies. Essays in the package explore possible solutions to the shortages.
And then there’s advice for science teachers themselves. Jessica Weller and Lynn A. Bryan give tips on teaching science in a rural school (hint: knowledge isn’t enough). Kirsten Daehler writes about the “secret sauce” in professional development for science teachers: “offering teachers first-hand learning experiences that are science-rich, cognitively challenging, collaborative, and fun.”
And Justin Louie shares what he has learned in the science classroom—mainly that receiving support is critical that first year, and that schools need to allow teachers to continue to hone their skills.
“I once lamented to a former professor that teaching would be so much easier if we could just download all the information we needed into our brains,” he wrote. “I have since learned in my 10 years in the classroom that teaching is exciting because of the learning that teachers experience alongside their students.”
For an example of a program that encourages science teachers to bring a love of exploration into the classroom, see Education Week Teacher’s video and accompanying article on the Exploratorium museum’s Teacher Induction Program in San Francisco.
Source: Illustration by Peter Hoey for Education Week
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.