We at NCATE welcome the National Science Education Standards and are engaged in a series of efforts to change the way teachers are prepared and licensed. I think there is no more difficult problem in teacher education than the proper preparation of elementary schoolteachers. NCATE is embarking on a fresh look at new standards for the preparation of elementary schoolteachers in all fields, including, of course, science.
A Science Educator's Perspective on Teacher Education
Paul Kuerbis, Professor of Science Education, Colorado College
I would like to remind us of the vision for learning and teaching science set by the National Science Education Standards. Those of you who have heard me speak before know that I am struggling with trying to invent a single word to describe these inextricably linked phenomena. I call it "learching" because we cannot have teaching unless we have a model of learning, with the two joined together.
So what does it take to produce a good teacher? How can we restructure programs and courses so that teacher candidates are called upon actively to make sense of learning and therefore of teaching? The Standards have to be the underpinning of a good teacher preparation program. I remain convinced that there must be early field experience, field-based methods courses, foundation courses that are broadly integrated across college campuses, and extended periods of student teaching.
These structural changes are necessary, but they are not sufficient. Other questions must be addressed. How can pre-service teachers interact with the classroom teacher to learn the craft and the culture of talking, reflecting, and researching? When and how should progressive interactive experiences in diverse classrooms be provided? When should teacher candidates be engaged in reflective practices, analysis of classroom interactions, and classroom-based research? When are they involved in the evaluation of materials, and in the instruction and assessment approaches that are part of the Standards and of the Benchmarks for Science Literacy?
How do science departments and faculty demonstrate that they value the preparation of teachers? When and how can departments and faculty restructure the curriculum to recognize elements of the Standards, major content ideas, inquiry-centered pedagogies, and alternate assessments? These are the kinds of questions that need to continue to be asked and answered in schools of education.
The Role of Undergraduate Science Courses in Teacher Preparation
Patricia Simpson, Associate Professor of Biology, St. Cloud State University
Teacher education in science must be transformed so that teachers will be prepared to teach according to the vision of present and future national standards. Teachers must be prepared to continue learning new content and new ways of