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Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation (2014)

Chapter: 1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation

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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
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1


Introduction and Themes of the Convocation

Many national initiatives in K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education have emphasized the connections between teachers and improved student learning. Much of the discussion surrounding these initiatives has focused on the preparation, professional development, evaluation, compensation, and career advancement of teachers. Yet one critical set of voices has been largely missing from this discussion—that of classroom teachers themselves (Berry, 2011).

Isolated examples of involving teachers in education policy and decision making have occurred at all levels of the education system (see Chapter 3; also Pennington, 2013). In addition, a number of studies have demonstrated that when teachers are effectively engaged in policy and decision making, teacher morale improves, retention may increase, and the school and surrounding communities benefit (Bhatt and Behrstock, 2010; Bissaker and Heath, 2005; Kimmelman, 2010; Rasberry and Mahajan, 2008). Given the benefits of involving a diverse group of teacher leaders in education policy and decision making, organizations have been seeking to empower teacher leadership at national, state, and local levels. For example, the Center for Teaching Quality, headquartered in North Carolina, is seeking to create schools “where America’s most accomplished teachers routinely spread their expertise, enforce standards of teaching excellence, transform teacher preparation and certification, and redesign and lead their own schools.”1 A recently published report from this organization

_______________

1Additional information is available at http://www.teachingquality.org [September 2014].

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×

advocates for “professional discussion about what constitutes the full range of competencies that teacher leaders possess and how this form of leadership can be distinguished from, but work in tandem with, formal administrative leadership roles to support good teaching and promote student learning” (Teacher Leadership Exploratory Consortium, 2011).

To explore the potential for STEM teacher leaders to improve student learning through involvement in education policy and decision making, the National Research Council (NRC) held a convocation on June 5–6, 2014, in Washington, DC, entitled “One Year After Science’s Grand Challenges in Education: Professional Leadership of STEM Teachers Through Education Policy and Decision Making.” The convocation was organized by a committee of experts under the aegis of the National Academies Teacher Advisory Council, which was established in 2002 to help bring master teachers’ “wisdom of practice” to Academy staff and other organizations as they work to improve STEM education for grades K-12.2 It was structured around a special issue of Science magazine that discussed 20 grand challenges in science education (Alberts, 2013). The authors of three major articles in that issue3—along with Dr. Bruce Alberts, Science’s editor-in-chief at the time—spoke at the convocation, updating their earlier observations and applying them directly to the issue of STEM teacher leadership.

The Statement of Task for this project is as follows:

An ad hoc committee under the aegis of the National Academies Teacher Advisory Council will organize and conduct a two-day convocation in Washington, DC early in 2014 that would focus on empowering teachers to play greater leadership roles in education policy and decision making in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (STEM) education at the national, state, and local levels. The convocation will use several papers from the April 2013 special issue of Science on Grand Challenges in Education as foci for discussion. The convocation will feature invited presentations and discussion that would explore the following issues:

  • What is the evidence base (both from the United States and from other countries) that addresses whether involving teachers of STEM in education policy and decision making can lead to improvements in policies that affect teachers and teaching in these subject areas? What other evidence exists for improving other aspects of the K-12 STEM education system, especially at the national level?

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2Additional information is available at http://nas.edu/tac [September 2014].

3Barnett Berry, Center for Teaching Quality; Suzanne Wilson, University of Connecticut, Storrs; and Suzanne Donovan, Strategic Education Research Partnership.

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×
  • What models of engaging teachers in policy and decision making at the national, state, and local levels currently exist, especially as they pertain to STEM education? What can be learned from current efforts to expand the roles of teachers in these processes?
  • What kinds of communication efforts, resources and other activities are needed to help education officials and policy makers understand the roles, contributions and potential impact of teachers of STEM in these processes? The convocation will invite participation from a broad array of stakeholders from the STEM education and policy communities. Following the convocation a National Academies workshop summary (Category B) will be prepared by a rapporteur and distributed widely.

The convocation brought together representatives from a wide range of public- and private-sector organizations, including foundations and other funding organizations, for a day and a half of discussions, presentations, and breakout sessions. Convocation participants also included many teachers who have had leadership positions and who have been involved in programs to foster teacher leaders. The convocation allowed participation in person or via a live Webcast. (Appendix B lists in-person participants and registrants for the Webcast.) During the registration process, people were asked to (1) indicate their reason(s) for wanting to participate in this convocation, and (2) indicate what they hoped to take away from this convocation. The summary of responses that were presented during opening remarks is found in Box 1-1. In addition, a Twitter feed permitted all participants to provide real-time comments and feedback.4

During the opening session of the convocation, Mike Town, chair of the organizing committee and a teacher at Tesla/STEM High School in Redmond, Washington, said, “This is the first time we’ve had an opportunity to have a dialogue about policy and teacher empowerment with all the different stakeholders in the same room at the same time.”5

The overall objective of the convocation, said Richard Duschl, a senior advisor at the National Science Foundation (NSF), which supported the convocation, was to discuss how teachers could “become leaders, become spokespersons, become individuals who know how to speak about policy and about the impact of the various evidence-based practices that we are now trying to put into place.”

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4The Twitter feed is available at #STEMTeachers. Participants could tweet at @TAC_of_NRC.

5Despite efforts to invite them, school administrators such as principals were missing from the stakeholders who attended the convocation. Some invitees responded that because the convocation was so close to the end of the school year and end-of-year assessments, their responsibilities would not permit them to participate.

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×

BOX 1-1
Convocation Survey Summary

Briefly, please indicate your reason(s) for wanting to participate in this convocation.

Gain the latest information regarding STEM education.

35%

Learn how to best empower teachers in STEM education policy-making roles.

27%

Participate in a dialogue on STEM research and integration.

26%

Are members of the National Academies Teacher Advisory Council.

 7%

Networking opportunities.

 2%

Interested as NRC staff members.

 2%

Attending as a representative of a funding organization.

 1%

   
Briefly, please indicate what you hope to take away from this convocation.

Gain a better understanding of how they can empower teachers as STEM education policy makers.

32%

Participate in a dialogue on how they could improve STEM education.

23%

Gain an understanding about the future of STEM education policy.

22%

Learn about the evidence concerning teacher empowerment in decision making for STEM education.

11%

Network with colleagues.

 8%

Support the National Academies Teacher Advisory Council or the Next Generation Science Standards.

 4%

The convocation also built on a meeting held in February 2014 (National Research Council, 2014) and a workshop held three days prior to this convocation6 on how schools, afterschool programs, and institutions such as museums that provide informal STEM learning can work together to improve STEM education. As Jay Labov, NRC senior advisor for education and communication and the organizer of both events, posed, “How do we literally think about the learner rather than the institutions and obliterate, at least figuratively if not literally, the walls of the schoolhouse so that STEM learning can take place in all different places?”

This report summarizes the presentations and discussions at the convocation as a possible guide to future discussion and action. The report is

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6Additional information about this workshop, “Successful Out-of-School STEM Learning: A Consensus Study,” held June 3-4, 2014, under the NRC Board on Science Education, is available at http://sites.nationalacademies.org/DBASSE/BOSE/CurrentProjects/DBASSE_086842 [September 2014].

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×

written as a narrative that highlights the important themes, opportunities, and challenges discussed by presenters and participants, rather than a chronological summary of the convocation. The observations and suggested actions in this report are those of individual speakers and should not be interpreted as the conclusions of the convocation participants as a whole. However, they provide an overview of the current situation and may point in promising directions. According to Labov, “We see this convocation not as a culminating experience but as the beginning of a process to think about how educators, whether formal, informal, or afterschool, can have their voices heard.”

THEMES OF THE CONVOCATION

At the beginning and end of the convocation’s second day, members of the organizing committee, reporters for the breakout groups, and other convocation participants offered their reflections on themes they heard emerging from the presentations and discussions. Those observations are summarized here as an introduction to the major issues that arose at the convocation.

According to several participants, many opportunities exist for STEM teacher leaders to influence practices within the classroom and policies that shape the broader educational context. But the term “teacher leader” can be distrusted in the context of schools, where teachers typically work among themselves as equals rather than in a hierarchy, observed Toby Horn, codirector of the Carnegie Academy for Science Education at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC. In addition, she said that teacher leadership can be viewed by administrators as taking time away from what is viewed as teachers’ primary (or only) role of being in the classroom, working directly with students.

However, a variety of models around the country are demonstrating the value of involving STEM teachers in education policy and decision making. This leadership can make a difference both in individual classrooms and in policies that affect many classrooms, as several presenters pointed out. As an example, Town cited the opportunity for teacher leaders to influence professional development. Teachers know what kinds of professional development work in their classrooms. They recall professional development opportunities from which they became more confident, gained a stronger identity in STEM subjects, and learned new strategies to teach students. STEM teacher leaders can have an influence on professional development in their schools, districts, states, and nationwide, he suggested. For example, they have opportunities to identify inadequate professional development and replace it with something else. He suggested that administrators need to trust that teachers know best what

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×

their students need and give teachers the freedom to try new and exciting things. “That’s a very effective way for us to use our voice,” Town said.

Steve Robinson, a teacher at Democracy Prep Charter High School in New York City and a former special assistant for education in the Executive Office of the President of the United States, was the next respondent. He focused his remarks on accountability, reminding convocation participants that this issue will not disappear. Federal and state policy generally includes leeway for educators to devise alternate measures of teacher effectiveness. However, Robinson noted that until people in the field themselves can develop other measures that are determined to be valid and reliable measures of what an effective science teacher looks like, policy makers will say, ‘I’m going to use the numbers that come from tests, because that’s the simplest thing to do.’ Defining teacher effectiveness is complicated, but it is a challenge that we have to face,” Robinson said.

Creating leadership opportunities for STEM teachers requires better strategies for communicating with principals, Horn noted. Principals need to know that STEM subjects are different than other subjects, she said. They also need to know that everyone can learn STEM subjects, not just some people, and that STEM learning is for all students from elementary school to high school. Teacher leaders can help principals see and understand these attributes of STEM teaching, which in turn can help principals foster such change in their schools and make change sustainable, she said.

STEM teacher leaders also need to be recognized and rewarded in some way, noted Cindy Hasselbring, special assistant to the state superintendent for special projects at the Maryland State Department of Education. STEM teacher leaders cannot be expected to do all of their leadership work on weekends and in the evenings. Acknowledging and promoting teacher leadership also requires that they have time during their workdays outside the classroom. They need the flexibility to connect with each other, strengthen local opportunities, and build communities of teachers as learners, which implies the existence of reward systems established between teacher leaders and administrators, Hasselbring said.

Teachers will make different decisions regarding leadership, noted Janet English, a high school science teacher in California who recently received a Fulbright Fellowship to study the Finnish education system.7 Some will decide on being involved at different levels, from the school level to the national or international level while others will not—perhaps because they do not want to leave the classroom or are worried about job security. For some teachers who are reticent, mentoring may convince

_______________

7Additional information about the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program is available at http://www.iie.org/Programs/Fulbright-Awards-In-Teaching [September 2014].

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×

some of them to become more involved in leadership activities, English said.

Teacher leaders are not guaranteed acceptance or even understanding by their administration of the value that they add to the classroom, school, or district, English added. Financial considerations are a factor for teachers if they leave the classroom for any substantial period of time. In some cases, she commented, “the people who do this are people who are willing to give up on a lot to get a lot. It’s a tradeoff, but it’s not generally easy to come out of the classroom and do something else,” English emphasized.

Finally, English noted that, in other countries, teachers are involved not just in working with children, but also in their own development as teachers and professionals. They work together and give each other feedback on what helps children learn. They collaborate to create effective educational environments and to gain the respect of people who make policy decisions. (See also Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2011.)

SUGGESTIONS FROM BREAKOUT GROUPS

On the first day of the convocation, participants separated into breakout groups to consider more detailed questions and options for future action based on the principles discussed by the plenary speakers that morning. Each presenter participated in a breakout session twice that afternoon, and each participant was able to attend two different sessions (details are in Appendix A). This first set of breakout groups looked at (1) professional development to engage teachers in leadership activities (the subject of Chapter 4), (2) the concept of “teacherpreneurs” (discussed in more detail in Chapter 2), and (3) current models of engaging teachers in leadership activities (some of which are described in Chapter 3). The breakout groups on the second day, which were organized by sector, suggested actions that could be taken in the short term and medium term. The following summary of conclusions and proposals from the breakout groups should not be viewed as representing a consensus of either the breakout groups or the convocation participants, but they raise intriguing issues and possibilities.

Developing a Tool for Collaboration

Teacher leaders will create leadership in their own contexts, said English, who reported out for the group on models of engaging teachers in leadership activities. This means that every teacher leader will be different, because every context is different. A commitment to lead, therefore,

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×

will take different forms depending on what is appropriate and needed in an individual school, district, or state.

Nevertheless, English continued, teacher leaders need a way to communicate their experiences, learn from each other, and develop best practices. In the past, experienced and dedicated teacher leaders have not necessarily had a mechanism that enabled them to collaborate, she pointed out. Funders, either within government or outside, could help create such a mechanism. “Without a collaborative tool, there is no way to talk among ourselves,” said English. “We need money and a commitment by funders to say, ‘We recognize you as professionals, and we recognize that in order to improve education we need the teacher voice.’”

The groundwork for such collaboration already has been laid, added Robinson, by programs to recognize and reward especially effective STEM teachers, such as the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.8 A network of teachers recognized through such programs could draw on teachers who are not teaching full time to write the initial proposals and provide continuing impetus for the resource. “The network is going to need some external expertise, which is maybe funding or maybe people who are clever about how to build good websites and social networks,” Robinson said. The network also could interact with professional societies, teachers unions, and other organizations to refine and pursue its mission, he noted.

Different programs have had different degrees of success in keeping people connected after an event or program, English observed, noting “you have to have something to keep people engaged and interested in being part of that group.” A mechanism suggested by Alberts during the breakout session was a series of meetings patterned after the Gordon Research Conferences in science,9 where people come together for one week a year and “the most interesting thing at the retreat is the other people who are there.”

Expanding on Models of Teacher Leadership

Rebecca Sansom, an Einstein fellow10 at the National Science Foundation, elaborated on some of the ways in which existing models of STEM teacher leadership could be expanded. One option she suggested would be to provide teacher leaders with more opportunities for authentic research opportunities as a way of developing their leadership knowledge and

_______________

8Additional information is available at https://www.paemst.org/ [September 2014].

9Additional information is available at https://www.grc.org/ [September 2014].

10Additional information is available at http://www.trianglecoalition.org/einstein-fellows [September 2014]. This program is also described in greater detail in Chapter 3.

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×

skills. These research experiences could play a role in teacher preparation programs and certification, which would help teachers better understand the nature of science and use that understanding in their classrooms.

Another possibility would be to conduct a survey to examine the attitudes and dispositions of teachers, administrators, and other educators about the value of teacher input to education policy and decision making. This survey could be conducted by a teacher organization such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics11 or the National Science Teachers Association,12 she said, or it could be added to other surveys of teachers being done currently.

An organization such as the National Academies could prepare an introduction to the issue of teacher leadership and a guide to action, she suggested. A regular publication could point teacher leaders to important recent publications. This information also could interest many other people in education, such as teacher educators, professional development providers, and administrators.

Defining Roles and Policy Issues

Though teacher leaders will engage in different activities, some of the activities in which they are involved will fall into the same category, said Camsie McAdams, senior STEM advisor at the U.S. Department of Education. Therefore, another step forward would be to define roles of teacher leadership, such as instructional leader, professional development coach, mentor teacher, curriculum developer, adjunct professor, and teacher trainer. A separate workshop could define and develop these roles for teacher leaders, along with the professional development needed to prepare for those roles, McAdams said.

Such a convening also could define the areas of education and policy making in which teacher leaders could have a beneficial influence. Examples cited by McAdams were scheduling, staffing, teacher seminars, resource allocation, bond issues, state policy licensure, graduation requirements, credentialing, and certification. The discussion at the convocation focused on “what everyone is passionate about, which is instructional leadership,” she observed, but many other policies could be influenced by teachers. Some of these policies, such as scheduling, may be subtle, but she said they make “a huge difference at the school level.” For instance, scheduling can help determine whether teachers have an opportunity to talk together about best practices. This is a way for teachers to be “empowered at the building level,” said McAdams.

_______________

11Additional information is available at http://nctm.org [September 2014].

12Additional information is available at http://nsta.org [September 2014].

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×

Professional Development for STEM Leadership

Professional development in STEM fields can be different than professional development in other fields because of the constantly changing base of knowledge in STEM areas, noted Town, who reported out for the breakout group on professional development. Furthermore, professional development itself changes over time as knowledge and practices improve. For example, a new and promising approach, said Town, is teacher-led professional development that results in portfolios demonstrating professional growth over time.

One challenge in developing leadership is measuring the effectiveness of professional development, he said, adding that the scores of students on standardized tests are not necessarily the only or most reliable measure of effectiveness. Others metrics might include such things as building confidence in teachers, getting students to take more science classes, graduation rates, and whether students pursue STEM subjects in college.

Professional development is required in many but not all professions, noted Town, which raises the issue of why professional development is considered such an important component of teaching. A related question is who sets the goals for professional development—teachers or some other group? Several members of the breakout group made the case that the best professional development comes from the bottom up, where teachers decide what is needed and agencies try to respond to those needs.

Professional development also can be oriented more toward policy making than toward teaching practices, he said. Policy changes can have a more widespread effect than classroom improvements if they are system-wide, which may argue for professional development focused on such changes, Town said. For example, professional development can be effective if it enables teachers to voice their concerns to policy makers at the federal level. However, policy makers tend to be more focused on accountability and data than are teachers, who instead tend to focus on best practices and students’ experiences in the classroom.

Finally, Town directed attention to the changing roles of teachers, which also will require new forms of professional development. Despite increased understanding about effective approaches based on emerging evidence, changes to professional development also are influenced in part in response to the perceptions of policy makers. For example, he said, today those perceptions are very oriented toward accountability, which is driving professional development. Rebranding what professional development is or changing the perceptions of policy makers could both influence the professional development teachers receive.

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×

Funding STEM Teacher Leaders

Jo Anne Vasquez, vice president for educational practice for the Helios Education Foundation, reported back from the breakout group of funders. She said funders need to find a way to define teacher leadership in a way that is both coherent and accessible to them. Education issues are surrounded by a fair amount of “noise,” she and several other convocation participants said. Funders need a way to separate critical issues in education from that noise, identify a high-priority issue, and focus their attention on ways to support those who are working to address that issue. One way to help do that is to have teachers integrally involved in writing grant proposals. “You cannot leave the teachers’ voice out,” she said.

Vasquez also pointed out that funders have different funding mechanisms. For example, the Helios Education Foundation does invited solicitations rather than requests for proposals. Networks of funders such as the STEM Funders Network—an affinity group that explores best practices in grant making for STEM activities—offer one way to reconcile different procedures and focus on promising areas. Interagency initiatives at the federal level and public-private funding partnerships are other ways of supporting activities and programs that could foster STEM teacher leaders, she said.

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×

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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×
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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×
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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×
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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×
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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×
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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×
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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×
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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×
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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×
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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×
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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×
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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction and Themes of the Convocation." National Research Council. 2014. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18984.
×
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Many national initiatives in K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education have emphasized the connections between teachers and improved student learning. Much of the discussion surrounding these initiatives has focused on the preparation, professional development, evaluation, compensation, and career advancement of teachers. Yet one critical set of voices has been largely missing from this discussion - that of classroom teachers themselves. To explore the potential for STEM teacher leaders to improve student learning through involvement in education policy and decision making, the National Research Council held a convocation in June 2014 entitled "One Year After Science's Grand Challenges in Education: Professional Leadership of STEM Teachers through Education Policy and Decision Making". This event was structured around a special issue of Science magazine that discussed 20 grand challenges in science education. The authors of three major articles in that issue - along with Dr. Bruce Alberts, Science's editor-in-chief at the time - spoke at the convocation, updating their earlier observations and applying them directly to the issue of STEM teacher leadership. The convocation focused on empowering teachers to play greater leadership roles in education policy and decision making in STEM education at the national, state, and local levels. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership is a record of the presentations and discussion of that event. This report will be of interest to STEM teachers, education professionals, and state and local policy makers.

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