Stephen Witzig (PI) with Tesfay Meressi (Co-PI); Kym Welty (Program Coordinator); Sharon Hartley (Teacher Leadership Specialist); David Welty (STEM Education Consultant); Annette Brickley (STEM Education Consultant)
National Science Foundation
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has been engaged in a multiyear partnership to train a cohort of Teaching Fellows (TFs) and Master Teaching Fellows (MTFs) as STEM Educators for the middle and secondary schools of Fall River, New Bedford, and Wareham Massachusetts. In these three districts, 50-77% of students are economically challenged (high-needs). While success in the STEM subjects could provide a route toward college and careers for many of these students, they consistently score far below state averages when tested in STEM subjects. There is critical need in these districts to prepare STEM educators to engage the student population in STEM disciplines.
The three goals of this professional development project are to: (1) Deepen STEM Content Knowledge and instructional practices through myriad content-intensive learning experiences; (2) Develop Critical 21st Century Skills through the active exploration of emerging technologies in STEM education; and (3) Develop Teacher Leadership Skills via a collaborative approach, based on a proven model that utilizes peer-coaching, mentoring, and professional learning communities.
This is the sixth year of the TEACH! SouthCoast STEM program. The cohort is comprised of 20 teachers from our partner school districts (Fall River PS, Diman Regional Vocational Technical HS, New Bedford PS, Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical HS, Global Learning Charter PS, and Wareham PS) including 7 Teaching Fellows and 13 Master Teaching Fellows.
In the first two years, participants completed either their Masters of Arts in Teaching and earned an Initial Teaching License (TFs) OR completed the Teacher Leadership program (MTFs). Over the next four years, the fellows have participated in STEM summer internships, attended & presented at National/Regional STEM conferences and completed STEM graduate coursework to strengthen their CONTENT knowledge. In addition, they have completed professional development to strengthen their TECHNOLOGY competencies, CONTENT knowledge, and TEACHER LEADERSHIP skills. Participants are currently finishing their internships and preparing a final portfolio to highlight their STEM and LEADERSHIP experiences while engaged in project activities.
Why Do We Do This Work?
The TFs and MTFs in our project have been able to share their experiences in common planning time and other collaborative meetings, during in school professional development as well as through presentations in state and national conferences. Our participants serve as role models for the middle and secondary students in the region and knowing the impact a single inspiring teacher can have in a school, 20 well-prepared STEM teachers and teacher leaders in the region is truly transformative.