red Supported Site Towson University (Elementary): Collaboration

Successes

  • The project team was able to recruit teachers-in-residence and schools from Baltimore City and Baltimore County school systems. This enabled our project goals and activities to be responsive to each system’s needs and concerns.
  • The Deans and Chairs in Towson’s College of Education and College of Science and Mathematics were extremely supportive of our project efforts.

Challenges

  • Recruitment of a TIR from a school system is a time-, politics-, and paperwork-intensive process.
  • The successes of our early teaching courses are not being built upon in Towson’s student teaching year (the year that follows the science internship). According to surveys, many student teachers do not teach science frequently and also do not receive substantial science-specific mentoring from their university supervisors or mentor teachers. This points to a need for greater coordination between our science departments and our College of Education.

Sustainability/Physics Department Buy-In

  • The field experience coordinator(s) will continue to recruit placement schools and mentor teachers from both Baltimore City and Baltimore County.
  • It remains to be seen whether teachers and administrators will allow the field experience instructors and interns to make inquiry-oriented modifications to the official curriculum when teachers and administrators are faced with rigid content and lesson requirements driven by the Maryland State Assessment (MSA). The new MSA for science was piloted in Maryland this past spring, 2007.
  • There will continue to be close collaboration between our science and education Colleges through formal and informal meetings and through our joint efforts via the Center for Science and Mathematics Education.

Lessons Learned

  • Currently (i.e., pre-standardized testing), mentor teachers and principals are willing to let the field experience instructors/interns modify official lessons as long as the modified lessons address the state science content standards.

Activity Summary

  • To update administrators about the progress of our project, the project team met regularly with the chair of the Department of Elementary Education, our own department chair, the dean of our college, and other science education faculty in our college. During site visits, it was also arranged for members of the national project management team to meet with the chairs and dean.
  • A project PI made frequent school visits and phone calls to recruit and retain schools, to secure dedicated school spaces for the interns, and to sort out logistical problems. The teachers-in-residence also visited the school sites each semester.
  • The project team worked with faculy and administrators in the College of Education to help prepare the science portion of the NCATE reaccreditation of Towson’s Elementary Education program.