Essays on Teacher Preparation by Workshop Participants

Monica Ramirez

AIMS Community College
Greeley, Colorado

Northern Colorado Community College/University Rural Teacher Preparation Initiative

AIMS Community College, in collaboration with four other community colleges in Colorado and Colorado State University were awarded a three-year NSF grant beginning summer 2001. Although the grant focuses on the recruitment and retention of diverse and rural students into careers in teaching math, science and technology, Aims has focused on chemistry and geoscience education as its major science areas of recruitment.

I. Project Summary
The articulation partnership bolsters the recruitment and retention of diverse and rural students into careers in teaching math, science and technology and strengthens the content and pedagogical skills of prospective and current teachers. The program unites four community colleges serving rural and diverse student populations with the state's land-grant university. Colorado does not have education degrees, so recruitment and retention plans provide community college students with Future Teacher Mentors (FTMs) on each campus to guide them into disciplines at the university preparing teachers in secondary science, math and technology.

The emphasis of the program has the community colleges and the university collaborate with three proposed outcomes: (1) to attract and retain greater numbers of students into the targeted teaching areas to serve rural communities; (2) to attract and retain larger numbers of minority students into teaching in the targeted areas; and (3) to improve the preparation and current teaching of math, science, and technology teachers and pre-service providers.

Three specific goals were established for the project to meet the outcomes: (i) recruitment and retention, (ii) collaboration, and (iii) improving science/math/technology/pedagogy preparation. To achieve these goals several strategies were implemented including the improvement of advising/mentoring of community college students through the FTMs. They have created and are advising Future Teacher Clubs, recruiting students, and sharing financial support opportunities. A website has been be prepared with resources for students and faculty regarding teaching in Colorado, information about the transition from two-year to four-year institutions, and resources on teaching math, science and technology. As the grant is in year two, an annual needs assessment of professional development needs among K-I2 and community college faculty has been prepared to guide activities for a yearly conference and on-line workshops. The first and second annual "Careers in Teaching Science and Mathematics, K-12" conference coordinated by Northern Colorado Community Colleges and Colorado State University and hosted at Aims have included topics such as teaching geoscience through field experience, using GIS and GPS in the high school classroom, science lab teaching through distance education, job search for teachers, and mock interviews with administrators.

The project is guided by a Steering Committee composed of the four Co- Principal Investigators, the Project Director, a Community College Coordinator and regional K-I2 participants (two superintendents, a principal and a district science coordinator) who meet five times each year to review project activities and support the Project Director. The Project Director is responsible for the day-to-day activities of the project, including the development and management of the web site, the yearly conference, the on-going professional development plans, and the newsletter. The Community College Coordinator coordinates the work of the community college campuses. The FTMs advise students, work with the Project Director, set up the Future Teacher Clubs, and provide financial support options to students.