Offer Practical Experiences for Future Teachers
Just as you mentor science majors in research projects, you can mentor future teachers in gaining the experience they need to be successful in the classroom. Offering students the opportunity to plan, execute, and assess a lesson prior to student teaching and graduation gives them the chance to experience the logistics of classroom management while they still have the support of an experienced teacher. These opportunities are akin to providing mentored research opportunities to science majors that prepare them for a senior thesis or graduate work.
Earth science and environmental programs can focus on offering practical opportunities that are most common in the discipline, such as teaching in the field, teaching with spatial data, and using resources such as maps and rocks effectively in the classroom.
The more practice that future teachers have in planning, teaching, reflecting on, and revising lessons, the better. In particular, multiple experiences help future teachers learn to focus lessons around scientific ideas and concepts rather than around activities. To give future teachers experience handling Earth science content, you can:
- Recruit future teachers to serve as teaching assistants in introductory labs, or as learning assistants
- Work with future teachers to lead outreach opportunities in local schools; these can be built around events such as Earth Science Week or ShakeOut
- Partner with science teachers in local high schools and middle schools to bring future teachers into their classrooms as content experts; leading a field trip, for example, is an excellent practical opportunity for a future teacher
- Learn more about teaching geoscience in the field from On the Cutting Edge
- Explore example field trips and tips for teaching in the field from NAGT
Giving future teachers the opportunity to engage in a research project in the geosciences gives them a deeper understanding of the process of science that can then inform their science teaching. Read more about how research opportunities can influence future teachers in this short essay by Char Bezanon of St. Olaf College.
Research opportunities can be integrated into the existing curriculum, or new opportunities can be created with external funding:
- Integrate research opportunities into the introductory courses that future teachers already take
- Learn more about undergraduate research as teaching practice
- Develop a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program focused on future teachers:
- Learn more about the REU program at NSF
- See an example of an REU program for future teachers at Middle Tennessee State University (link down)