K-12 Teacher Development
Why Invest in Teachers?
The University of Utah’s student body is ‘home-grown;’ over 70% of U undergrads went to high school in Utah. Because the Center for Science and Mathematics Education (CSME) is dedicated to undergraduate success, it follows that we are committed to investing in the teachers preparing students before they arrive on campus. As CSME serves the College of Science, our support of teachers is even more essential; Utah’s k-12 classrooms continue to struggle to find highly qualified teachers in math and science.
CSME enhances the quality and equity of K-12 math and science education by supporting math and science teachers to improve their content knowledge, instructional skills, and teacher leadership capacities. Disciplinary content knowledge is essential – and for k-6 teachers who may not have much training, or 7-12 teachers who are teaching ‘out of field,’ mastering content is an obvious way to improve instruction. Content doesn’t teach itself, however, and so CSME also supports teachers to hone their ‘pedagogical content knowledge’ (or how to teach about math and science once you understand it). Finally, even expertly trained teachers are still leaving Utah’s classrooms more quickly than they can be replaced. In order to support creative, motivated practitioners to remain resilient in and enlivened by their classroom practices, and therefore continue in their careers as classroom teachers, CSME supports teachers to cultivate identities as Teacher Leaders. Teacher Leaders utilize their hard-earned expertise to advocate for their students and their profession in ways uniquely necessary for k-12 teaching, and in ways that connect teachers to the commitments that bring them to their work. In partnership with the Utah State Board of Education, local school districts, and community organizations. CSME currently offers several opportunities for teachers to increase the equity and efficacy of their classroom instruction – an investment we’re happy to make as we welcome their students into our halls.
CSME gives practicing K-12 teachers opportunities to increase their math and science content mastery. By engaging with University of Utah faculty as instructors and research mentors, teachers can take courses with world-class researchers, and process and integrate their learning into their curriculum in these cohort-based programs:
- Elementary STEM Endorsement, a six-course, two-year sequence offered in partnership with the Urban Institute for Teacher Education and Granite and Salt Lake City school districts.
- Master of Science for Secondary School Teachers (MSSST), a content-specific graduate program for practicing science teachers.
As Utah works to adopt practice-centric science and math teaching standards, CSME supports teachers to experience and facilitate student-centered learning. While all of our teacher programing is anchored in these pedagogical commitments, the following programs are concise examples:
- A week-long workshop – the SEEd Swap – that provided curriculum materials and support for 6-8th grade teachers in the implementation of the new Utah Science with Engineering Education (SEEd) standards.
- An intensive, field-based Workshop on Math & Earth Science that explored the connections between traditional Navajo knowledge and western science while developing skills for teaching diverse students.
CSME supports teachers to cultivate strong Science and Math skills and identities and Teacher Leadership skills to motivate systems-level improvements through the following programs:
- The Teacher Leadership Cohort, a select group of teachers from the Elementary STEM Endorsement who engage in a year-long leadership development program.
- Teacher Research Fellows, secondary teachers who are immersed in a 4-week scientific research experience with a university faculty member.
- Research opportunities which are incorporated within the Master of Science for Secondary School Teachers (MSSST) program.
- CSME’s leadership role in the Collaborative Around Research Experiences for Teachers (CARET).