Methods for Methods – Elementary

Every year, science teacher educators from around the country come together at the ASTE annual conference. One of the main benefits of the time, resources, and energy spent putting on this meeting is bringing us together in the same space to learn with and from one another. This space is important because so many of us face multiple levels of isolation. Some of us may be the only science teacher educators at our institutions or the only person teaching a specific course at our institution. This isolation is further emphasized by an elementary/secondary divide, as elementary and secondary students and teachers have very unique contexts and considerations. Even if we are not in isolation, all of us need the opportunity to learn from other science teacher educators. This is especially true because professional development for teacher educators is rare or non-existent in most contexts (Smith & Flores, 2019), and preparation for teaching teachers is not always an explicit component of doctoral preparation (Abell et al., 2009). Yet, since publication of the ASTE Position Statement on Professional Knowledge Standards for Science Teacher Educators in 1997, there has been little collective action by the field to further articulate the key knowledge domains necessary for science teacher educators to be successful, nor to design professional development to support science teacher educators in developing that knowledge. With the recent release of the 2020 NSTA/ASTE Standards for Science Teacher Preparation, science teacher educators are in need of tools and resources to address these standards. With the current global pandemic, they are also challenged to find new ways to do so through online and remote technologies.
Each term, hundreds of elementary science methods courses are being taught worldwide. These methods courses naturally vary depending on the context of the institution and teacher preparation program. Within these contexts, differences exist in the number of science methods courses that are required for prospective teachers, the pedagogical content knowledge situated within the methods courses (e.g., only science content, science content and science methods, science and math methods, etc.), and whether or not these courses have embedded field experiences. All of these differences lead to a wide range of variance in what is taught and what resources we use in our courses. Typically, new ideas are piloted in our methods courses and old ideas are either improved upon or discarded without record. The knowledge and ideas that are produced in this process are largely lost due to our isolation. The same will be true of the knowledge being generated as science teacher educators seek to provide high-quality and equitable learning experiences online. Hence, we offer Methods for Methods to bring together the collective expertise of ASTE for nurturing the next generation of elementary science teachers and their educators.
About the Workshop
In this session, we aim to preserve and cultivate that collective “wisdom of practice” by making the most of our shared space and time by distributing the lessons we have learned from our own practice. This session will serve as an incubator for teachers of elementary science methods courses to share tools and resources to support preservice elementary teachers in their pedagogical development as teachers of science. Goals for the session include:
Strengthen the network of elementary science teacher educators within the ASTE community
Promote the sharing of tools and resources to support our work as elementary science teacher educators
Generate new knowledge as elementary science teacher educators that can be shared with the broader community (e.g., Methods for Method Website, conference write-up)
We will provide an overview of the session goals, provide time for introductions of attendees, then spend the bulk of the time in roundtable sharing sessions organized by guiding questions suggested by the facilitators but also generated by participants. Using a discussion protocol, each of the roundtable members will be able to present an idea and receive feedback from the group. Possible roundtable topics include:
How can I adapt my methods course to an online teaching and learning environment? (e.g., use of simulations/virtual reality tools, etc.)
How do we explicitly model for students how to teach science in ways that align with the NGSS? How might that look different across multiple contexts (e.g., using citizen science, service learning, informal science education)
How are we addressing issues of social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion in our methods courses?
How do we teach a split or integrated methods course? (e.g., math/science)
How are we teaching and preparing our students to teach in an increasingly technology-rich and technology-reliant world?
What does phenomenon driven service learning look like within a science methods course and how do we support elementary teachers to bring it into their future classrooms?
How do we meet the ASTE/NSTA Standards for Preservice Teacher Education in our elementary science methods courses?
How do we advocate as science teacher educators for the importance of elementary science education within our programs and local contexts, as well as nationally?
Each roundtable will have a preformatted electronic “minutes” page to capture their discussion and make it available to other participants. To wrap up the session, we will share out and preview a website designed to support continued sharing of resources and tools among the community (see below). These can include syllabi, learning activities, assignments, and other tools/resources. Attendees will also be encouraged to write for ASTE’s Innovations in Science Teacher Education and the Teaching Teachers section of Science & Children, and to participate in the Preservice Teacher Education Share-A-Thon at the 2021 NSTA Conference in Chicago to be held several months later.
Continued Learning and Collaboration
With the advent of a global pandemic, technology has come to play a more prominent role in both our teacher education pedagogy and our professional development. At the same time we are moving courses online we are also using remote technologies to connect online with other faculty engaged in similar work and facing similar challenges. The Facebook Group “Repository for Online Science Teacher Education Resources” (ROSTER), is one such ASTE member-initiated effort. This very proposal was crowd-sourced through the ROSTER and reflects the contribution of multiple individuals. Facilitators of this session are volunteer members of this group who have been actively engaged in teaching elementary science methods courses, and sharing ideas regarding best practices for not only face to face methods courses, but also how to quickly move from face to face to remote learning. They include both experienced ASTE leadership and newer ASTE members. Our intent is not to be the ‘experts’ imparting wisdom to the attendees, but rather to position attendees as experts by placing value on their diverse experiences teaching elementary science methods courses and identifying what works for their students.
We plan to follow-up with participants both formally and informally to continue their learning and collaboration. For this workshop specifically, we have created a separate Facebook Group and Google Site “Methods for Methods” through which elementary science teacher educators can access and contribute to the professional knowledge base. Through this, we hope to support continued learning and collaboration among attendees and the curation of resources and tools to support a wider audience of ASTE members. Additionally, facilitators will create write ups of individual round table discussions to be posted on the Methods for Methods website, providing additional considerations and talking points. These write ups will support the continuation of ASTE conversations beyond the conference workshop. Furthermore, any publications (e.g., teacher practitioner or teacher educator journals) resulting from this collaboration will reach a broader audience for further collaboration and learning with not only science teacher educators, but also with prospective and in-service elementary teachers.