Initial Publication Date: May 25, 2006

Geoscience Department Opportunities for Involvement in Practicing Teacher Professional Development

Created by Jennifer L. B. Anderson, Ph.D., SERC, Carleton College.

Listed below (by level of resource commitment) are broad categories of departmental involvement in the professional development of teachers along with specific examples. To view all programs, browse the programs collection.

Offer Professional Development Courses

Teachers are required to participate in professional development opportunities, such as workshops, field trips, and courses. If your department does not already offer professional development courses for local science teachers, there is a niche to be filled! Courses are most easily accessible to teachers when they are offered in the evenings, on weekends, or during the summer. Courses with field or lab experiences are especially useful to practicing teachers. Consider collaborating with faculty in the education department as well as local master teachers.

Develop or Participate in Workshops and Conferences

Geoscience departments can offer professional development opportunities through developing workshops or by participating in national workshops and at national education or geoscience conferences.

Sponsor and Support Partnerships with K-12 Schools

Geoscience departments can support their faculty and staff in providing quality outreach programs to local K-12 schools. This allows K-12 students to meet, talk with, and learn from actual geoscientists -- what we do, how we do it, what we look like. This can be a very rewarding experience and helps students to see that scientists are not so very different from 'regular people'. In developing a program like this, think about partnering with a number of local schools or a school district, perhaps focusing on a local geoscience-related issue that can become a long-term project or learning experience for a number of students. (For more information)

Collaborate or Partner with Education Departments

Find out what is being done for professional development of science teachers through the education department at your institution and make a departmental commitment to support those efforts. Or combine resources with the education department to develop professional development seminars, courses, workshops, etc. for practicing science teachers.

Maintain a Teaching Resource Center

Develop a resource center for K-12 science teachers as well as for use by preservice teachers and the general public at your institute. This resource center can range from a discussion list-serve, an online web page with searchable resources, all the way to an on-campus facility with classrooms, materials, supplies, and an extensive library. Partner with other geoscience and education departments at nearby institutions to create a regional teaching resource center. There may even already be such a facility in your area!

Offer (or Develop) a Masters Program in Science Education

To fulfill their professional development needs, many teachers go on to attain a Masters degree in education, or science education. Find out what examples of these masters programs look like, and how they were developed.