Master Teacher Fellowship Program – Phase II
The University of Rochester (U of R) Noyce Master Teaching Fellows Phase II Program began the work this year of building on and expanding the successful Phase I Noyce MTF program awarded to the U of R in 2010. We are preparing a second cadre of 14 K-12 mathematics and science master teachers to create a critical mass of teacher leaders in three diverse urban districts in upstate New York. The intent is to build internal long term capacity for sustaining high quality math and science teaching in an urban school system. Through a combination of coursework, mentored experiences, professional development, experiences in informal learning settings, and mentored support, the new fellows will gradually develop their knowledge and skills in
(a) STEM content and pedagogy,
(b) STEM coaching,
(c) STEM professional development, and
(d) leadership .
Over the course of the 5 years of this project, these fellows will be supported to serve as models, professional development providers and instructional leaders for their colleagues and pre-service teachers. We will capitalize on the partnership between the U of R (through the Warner School of Education and STEM departments), the three urban districts, East High (a failing high school within RCSD that the U of R is the Educational Partnership Organization for), and the Rochester Museum and Science Center (RMSC).
For more about our program:
Fellows will begin their program by focusing on their own practice as STEM teachers, adding another layer of complexity to their role as “master teachers” each of the following years, according to the following sequence:
- YEARS 1 & 2: Focus on STEM teaching. For the first eighteen months, Fellows will focus on their own teaching practice to create STEM learning experiences that are more interesting, meaningful and effective for all students in urban settings. This will involve learning more about best practices to teach specific STEM topics, including a new emphasis on online teaching and learning. Issues of race and poverty, and their implications for teaching in urban settings will also be addressed, to help Fellows better understand the students they teach and how to leverage their funds of knowledge (Moll et al., 1992; Gonzalez, Moll & Amanti, 2005). Concurrent with this coursework, Fellows will participate in specific STEM innovations taking place at East (such as “demonstration lessons” based on innovative STEM curricula or PD on data-driven instruction), so as to see how these theories can play out in practice. Fellows will also engage in innovative STEM learning experiences in the context of summer camps, after-school programs and/or museum exhibits, capitalizing on the partnership with the Museum as well as other existing initiatives (such as the Science STARS afterschool program at East).
- YEAR 3: Focus on STEM coaching. While continuing to improve their own STEM content and pedagogical knowledge as well as teaching practice, Fellows will also prepare for and take on the role of coach or “mentor” for student teachers and colleagues. This will involve specialized coursework in mentoring, communication, conflict resolution, and other areas that may be new to these successful STEM teachers, as well as mentored practice such as reviewing innovative instructional materials, collaboratively planning STEM lessons for students, designing school-wide assessments, or mentoring student teachers.
- YEAR 4: Focus STEM professional development (PD). While continuing to work on their practice as teachers and coaches, Fellows now also prepare for and begin to take on the role of professional development provider in settings such as workshops, summer institutes, family STEM evenings at the Museum, and other events involving teachers from local schools (including East) and/or UR pre-service teachers, capitalizing on existing professional development provided by the various partners.
- YEAR 5: Focus on STEM reform. Finally, while continuing to work on the previously described dimensions, in the last year Fellows will focus explicitly on what it takes to successfully promote systemic STEM reform in their district. Building on previous coursework and their on-going participation in the East EPO, Fellows will begin to plan and implement STEM reform initiatives within the district, in collaboration with their STEM district coordinators to ensure support and sustainability.
Year. Focus Activities/Mentored practice Course (semester – # credits) 1a. RecruitingFall 2015 ● Advertising flier disseminated● Consult w/ district leadership
● Information session and panel discussion from Phase I Fellows
● Mandatory STEM workshop
● Application process
● Classroom observations of promising applicants
● Sign contracts
1b.STEM TeachingSpring+ Summer 2016 ● Pre-assessment of content knowledge ● Leadership Seminar: Implementing STEM Teaching 1 (Spring – 1) EDE549A● Teaching & Learning STEM (Spring Y1- 3) EDE548
● Leadership Seminar: Implementing STEM Teaching 2 (Summer Y1-2) EDE549B
2.STEM teaching2016-2017 ● Innovative STEM teaching in informal settings (in a supporting role)● Innovative STEM teaching in own class
● Analysis of own videotaped lessons
● Attending high quality STEM PD as learner
● Leadership Seminar: Implementing STEM Teaching 3 (Fall – 1)● Leadership Seminar: Implementing STEM Teaching 4 (Spring – 1)
● Leadership Seminar: Implementing STEM Coaching 1 (Summer Y2 – 2)
● Online Teaching (Fall Y2-3)
● Urban students and schools (Spring Y2-3)
3. STEM coaching2017-2018 ● Innovative STEM teaching in own class● Innovative STEM teaching in informal settings (as lead instructor; mentoring others)
● Mentoring/supervising a student teacher
● Working with colleagues/East teachers on STEM innovations for their classes
● Attending high quality STEM PD as learner and/or in a supportive role
● LS: Implementing STEM Coaching 2 (Fall – 1)● LS: Implementing STEM Coaching 3 (Spring – 1)
● LS: Designing and Implementing STEM PD 1 (Su-2)
● Counseling & communication skills (F-3)
● Leadership & organizational dynamics (Sp-3)
4. STEM professional development (PD)2018-2019 ● Innovative STEM teaching in own class and/or informal settings● Mentoring student teachers/colleagues/East new teachers
● Guest speaker in methods courses
● Co-facilitating high quality STEM PD
● LS: Designing and Implementing STEM PD 2 (Fall – 1)● LS: Designing and Implementing STEM PD 3 (Spring – 1)
● LS: Designing and Implementing STEM PD4 (Su-2)
5. Engaging in and sustaining STEM reform2019-2020 ● Innovative STEM teaching in own class and/or informal settings● Mentoring student teachers/colleagues/East new teachers
● Designing and facilitating STEM PD
● Working on STEM innovations at the school & district level
● Engaging in STEM teacher preparation and reform initiatives
● LS: Implementing STEM Reform 1 (Fall – 1)● LS: Implementing STEM Reform 2 (Spring – 1)
● LS: Implementing STEM Reform 3 (Su-2)
As one of the “lessons learned” from our Noyce Phase I project, we significantly enhanced our recruiting process to attract a larger, more committed, and more diverse pool of applicants. As part of this process, we initially met with administrative teams from each of the 3 districts in order to review the overall scope of the program, to discuss the qualities and characteristics of successful fellows based on our experiences, and to co-develop the recruitment and application process. We engaged in the following activities:
- Information sessions
- On-line application
- Participation in a mandatory STEM Leadership Workshop
- Select interviews
- Class observation
- Reference check with specific prompts
Each of these is described below in more detail.
We held 3 (optional) information sessions that were facilitated by our leadership team and Phase I Fellows. In these sessions, we provided an overview of the major components of the project and Phase I fellows shared major highlights from their experience including what they may have wanted to know/realize from the beginning!
Thirty-seven participants attended these information sessions, with a wide range of diversity of race, background, grade level, content area. Seven Phase I fellows were part of these sessions.
Interested candidates were required to submit an electronic application that included the submission of:
- Current resume or curriculum vitae
- Personal statement
- Recent lesson plan
- Samples of student work with feedback
- Letter of reference from a colleague
- Contact information from principal/direct supervisor;
As noted in the proposal, all applications received were reviewed by the leadership team and a representative of each of the district partners to create a short list of promising candidates, based on:
- Holding a full-time tenure track position as a math or science teacher with a completed Master’s degree
- Evidence of innovative teaching practices and impact on student STEM learning
- Past involvement and performance in STEM professional development and reform efforts
- Other evidence of high quality STEM teaching and leadership potential
- Commitment to participate in all project activities and maintain district employment
- Preference given to candidates with at least 3 years of teaching experience
There were a total of 50 applicants.
Another component of the application process was required attendance at a 2 ½ hour STEM workshop facilitated by the leadership team and 3 Phase I fellows. The purpose of this event was to help participants gain a better understanding of the learning principles and leadership ideas that inform the project, as well as for us to gain any insights into applicants’ beliefs and content knowledge. Forty-one candidates attended this workshop. As noted in the Evaluation Report, this workshop was an important component of the recruitment phase.
Based on the leadership team’s review of applications, we selected 24 applicants who had completed the STEM workshop to interview and observe. Interview teams consisted of at least 2 members of the leadership team and at least 1 Phase I fellow. We generated a list of questions that uncovered candidates beliefs related to the most important qualities for this project. For example, questions were asked to uncover candidates’ beliefs and experiences related to:
- Does the candidate take an inquiry stance to learning about their own teaching?
- Does the candidate stay current with changes in the field and reach out to knowledge base?
- Is there evidence that the candidate values student voice, risk taking, reflection and self-assessment to support students’ self-direction towards learning of important math or science ideas?
- Does the candidate exhibit a commitment to and belief in the teaching and learning of ALL (students AND adults)?
- Does the candidate provide evidence that they respond pro-actively in the face of challenges, drawing on appropriate resources and support to do so?
- Is there evidence that the candidate is committed to continuous growth as a learner and leader?
In addition to interviews, we also conducted classroom observations of these 24 final candidates. We used the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) to provide further information for the selection process. Our proposal describes the criteria that were particularly important to us as we analyzed the results from the observations, and the Evaluation Report summarizes the observation ratings from the selected Fellows.
The leadership team also spoke with each interviewed candidates’ principal/direct supervisor with questions created to triangulate the above information. All of the data was recorded on a summary table and reviewed and analyzed by the leadership team.
The Spring Leadership Seminar served to scaffold Fellows’ understanding of what is involved in creating a unit of study using backwards design. National consultant Julie Kopp led four seminars as Fellows began using Wiggins & McTighe’s, Understanding by Design (UbD) to inform the creation of a the first stage of a high quality unit of study. Julie led the Fellows through work on acquisition, meaning making, transfer and understanding. Fellows then developed meaning making experiences to carry out in their classrooms with help from their mentors. The Fellows developed Stage 1 of a unit of instruction and these were shared and reviewed by peers. Feedback was also provided by Senior Fellows and Mentors as a culminating activity of the Spring Leadership Seminar course.
The Summer Leadership Seminar course involved 11 days of exciting professional learning. The Fellows continued their work with Julie Kopp on designing units using the UbD process. While developing a full unit of study, Fellows continued to focus on meaning making experiences and opportunities for students to practice transfer. Fellows will teach the unit they developed this fall while gathering data to use and discuss in Fall Leadership Seminars.
The Fellows also spent two days working with national coaching consultant Lucy West, founder of Metamorphosis Teaching Learning Communities. They explored and reflected on leadership within their own classrooms. West’s work with Fellows focused on strengthening instructional practices, particularly related to student discourse, developing identities as leaders, and building communication skills in service to supporting positive change in their classrooms and schools.
Margaret Smith, a retired professor of instruction and learning at the University of Pittsburgh, also worked with the Fellows for one day. Smith’s work with Fellows focused on her book 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussion (coauthored with Mary Kay Stein, 2011) and the companion book for Science (co-authored with Cartier, Stein and Ross, 2013). Smith supported Fellows in improving their discourse practices, including effectively anticipating and using student responses to high-level tasks in order to engage students in rich mathematical and scientific discussions.
The Fellows also engaged in a series of observations in informal learning spaces to consider how these are the same and/or different from traditional classroom learning spaces. Fellows spent a day observing summer learning sessions at the Rochester Museum and Science Center (RMSC), the Seneca Park Zoo, the Freedom School, and the Horizons summer enrichment program at Warner to better understand teaching and learning in these informal settings.
Fellows have a final day of professional learning with the Noyce Phase II leadership team at Warner, comprised of Callard, Occhino, Martin, and Cook, synthesizing and reflecting on the units they designed, and on their summer learning experiences. They will also make plans and commitments for the year ahead.
- Mentors – Mentored practice is one of the core experiences of this program. During the recruitment phase of the program, some of the potential Fellows reported that the mentored practice was one of the components that drew them to program. Upon acceptance into the program, each Fellow was provided with a mentor – all experienced classroom teachers or school administrators. Mentors were charged with working with Fellows for a minimum of 8 hours per month, attend Leadership Seminar, attend a monthly mentor meeting with the project leadership team, and provide a written summary of the work they engaged with during the school year.In Year 1, mentors focused on developing relationships with each of their assigned Fellows as they supported them in implementing the instructional practices explored in leadership seminar. As with all learners, Fellows brought with them different levels of instructional experience and thus the mentor-fellow relationship took on different forms for each pairing. While all mentors spent time in their Fellow’s classrooms, some reported placing more emphasis on planning and reflecting outside of the classroom, and others engaged in more formal content-focused coaching cycles which included planning, implementing, and reflecting on the lessons in the classroom.Some general themes emerged from the mentor summaries of fellows’ strengths and areas of growth. Mentors reported that Fellows were receptive to and often requested feedback from mentor classroom visits. Fellows willingly attempted to re-design lessons so that they were more meaningful, interesting, engaging, and accessible to students. Lesson planning was a major focus for most Fellows and mentors, and continues to be an area that most report as an area of need. In addition, some mentors supported Fellows as they navigated new understandings of teaching and learning inside school cultures that promote compliance more than active engagement in learning.The challenges around planning and culture were expected by the leadership team and mentors as we began this work. Looking to year 2, we will continue to focus on lesson planning and unit design, setting clear expectations between all of the stakeholders (leadership team, mentors, fellows, students, and school/district administrators) in order to get the greatest benefit out of the mentored practice experience within the project.
- Providing informal, on-going support by touching base at least monthly throughout the year
- Being an advocate for both the fellow and the project by serving as a supportive link between project leadership team and the fellow
- Attending the first and last leadership seminar of the year
Senior Fellows – Building on the success of our Noyce MTF Phase I project, we incorporated the knowledge and expertise of our Phase I fellows to provide support and mentorship for our Phase II fellows. The responsibilities for “Senior Fellows” included:
- All Phase II fellows had a “Senior Fellow” available to them for support in Year 1. All of the Senior Fellows supported their Fellow by connecting through email, phone, or meeting them in person.One key area of support for many Fellows was the transition to the role of graduate student. Many of the Fellows had not been enrolled in graduate classes in a number of years and the expected level of reading and rigorous writing/assignments was a challenge. Some Senior Fellows met with the new fellows to work on assignments and share their work as models. Senior Fellows also read drafts and provided suggestions on some of the Fellows Meaning Making Experiences, Problem of Practice and UbD Stage 1 assignments. Senior Fellows also provided resources for Phase I fellows.One of the topics Senior Fellows provided support in was helping fellows to find a balance between their teaching responsibilities, their participation in the grant, and their home life. They also answered logistical questions regarding tax issues for the grant stipend, questions about upcoming courses, and the possible doctoral programs.The other major activities for Year 1 (“Teaching and Learning STEM Course,” “STEM Leadership Seminar,” and “Mentor support”) will be described in the “Professional Development” section below.