The teaching portfolio enables teachers to document their teaching and other professionals to evaluate the quality of their teaching. A detailed portfolio evaluation and scoring system was developed, experienced teachers were trained to use the scoring system, and data collected from the scoring process was analyzed to elicit evidence of reliability and validity. Initial studies showed that the portfolio can be reliably scored by trained science teachers. Analysis of scores by background factors, such as gender, school assignment, course content, and school community, did not reveal any differences in performance based on these factors.
In summary, the SESAP, with its support and assessment components, requires investment of time, money, and expertise. These resources are well spent if they translate into better student learning.
Professional development for teachers of science is a continuous, lifelong process. Teachers build skills gradually, beginning with undergraduate experiences. Each component of the education system must support teachers as they move from the pre-service program through their professional career. The continuum of professional growth was examined by a panel that presented the perspectives of the teacher, science professor, science education professor, school-level administrator, and state superintendent. Arthur Wise, president of NCATE and panel moderator, provided the perspective of credentialing agencies.
Reflections on Pre-service Education and Teachers' Needs
William Badders,Presidential Awardee for Excellence in Science Teaching; Cleveland City Schools
Like most elementary teachers, I had virtually no content background in the sciences. I scheduled textbook science at the end of the day but rarely taught it. In 1988, after 18 years of teaching, I became involved with a 4-year project developing, field testing, and piloting the Insights curriculum. This was the first opportunity I had to talk seriously about teaching science with others and to reflect on my teaching. We read and reviewed professional papers. We talked incessantly about our teaching, sharing ideas. We grappled with management issues and played around with materials. We had contact with important scientists and leaders in science education. This opportunity to meet and discuss teaching with other teachers does not exist in most school districts.
Applying this experience with kids left me with the realization that I had learned mechanical applications of doing hands-on science, but I did not have a deep understanding of inquiry. My questioning strategies were weak. How do you question? How do you get kids to provide evidence? I lacked the content knowledge needed to guide my questioning. I had not even addressed my own misconceptions about science. But it was a start.
I learned that there was much more I needed to know about teaching: constructivism, pedagogy, classroom management, materials preparation, equity, the learning cycle, and interdisciplinary approaches. I needed to know more about curriculum: age appropriateness, material selection, curriculum planning, state and national goals, and assessment. But I still needed more content.
And that is just in science! As an elementary teacher, I am required to teach all subjects.