We are delighted that we were able to reschedule Christie's presentation initially planned for February 22nd! Please join us to hear about her work in CREATE on Thursday, April 6, at noon.
"Working with school districts (and teachers’ unions) to pursue a new normal for science classroom teaching and learning"
As science education researchers and reformers, many of us are pursuing a new normal in which students in every science classroom are figuring out natural phenomena together. Currently, such classrooms – and their teachers – stand out as exemplary, prompting the motivating question for this session: What would it take to make such classrooms normal?
Addressing this question begins with findings from the Carbon TIME project, which reinforce how reform-oriented instructional materials and coordinating teacher professional learning are necessary, but not sufficient, for enacting the Framework’s vision in every science classroom. Most teachers need the kind of ongoing support and an alignment of expectations generally available only through their own school districts.
My dissertation study pursued understanding such local contexts through a qualitative investigation of four public school districts. Data were collected through two rounds of interviews with teachers, district science coordinators, and teachers’ union leaders in districts using Carbon TIME instructional resources in high school biology. Analyses identified roles, responsibilities, and professional actions of teachers, union leaders, and administrators that supported three-dimensional science classroom teaching and learning becoming normal.
Subsequent pilot work in one school district further emphasizes the value of involving school districts and local teachers’ unions in understanding and addressing ways in which teachers can successfully meet local expectations (for example, assigning grades) while pursuing reform-oriented, figuring out classrooms (for example, formatively assessing students’ three-dimensional science performances). Such research-practice partnerships are an important avenue in moving toward a new normal.
Christie Morrison Thomas, Ph.D., is recently graduated from Michigan State University's College of Education, where she worked with the NSF-funded Carbon TIME research and development project. She currently provides professional learning support for the Carbon TIME curriculum through MSU’s CREATE for STEM Institute. Christie serves on the leadership team of the Michigan Science Professional Learning Network (MiSciPLN) and as the Michigan Education Association’s (MEA) liaison to the Michigan Science Teachers Association (MSTA) Board of Directors. She previously taught middle school science for ten years with the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS).