Teacher Professional Learning

After decades of standards-based reform schools, policymakers, education professionals, and other stakeholders are recognizing that in order to effectively deliver the rigorous standards required to succeed in the 21st century, it is essential to strengthen the capacity of teachers.  If students are to acquire higher-order thinking skills, we need teachers with higher-order teaching skills. The ERC is involved with several teacher professional learning projects designed to recruit and train educators who possess higher-order teaching skills and deep content knowledge. One best practice used to accomplish this goal is building professional learning communities among teachers, administrators, content experts, and teacher educators. A second best practice is providing teachers with the tools and support they need as well as the sense of professionalism necessary to ensure students achieve.  

One example of an ERC teacher professional learning project is the TAMU Educator Preparation Collaborative for Enhancing College and Career Readiness in Texas Schools (TAMU Collaborative) (Integrating College and Career Readiness Standards into a post-baccalaureate teacher preparation program). The TAMU Collaborative prepares P-16 education professionals to assist students in meeting college and career readiness and skilled workforce expectations and standards. The goals of the TAMU Collaborative are to improve educator preparation programs among partner IHEs, and to assist schools in implementing college and career readiness standards in an effort to better prepare students for college.

An example of building professional learning communities to strengthen the capacity of teachers is the STEM Collaborative for Teacher Professional Learning.  This is a collaboration among Aggie STEM and the Education Research Center (ERC) in the College of Education and Human Development; the Center for Mathematics and Science Education (CMSE) in the College of Science; and the Dwight Look College of Engineering.  The STEM Collaborative for Teacher Professional Learning has three primary goals:  (a) provide high quality STEM professional development for in-service teachers, (b) disseminate best practices for STEM teaching and learning, and (c) afford research-based tools and support for STEM teacher educators.  By increasing the quality of STEM teachers and STEM teacher preparation programs and expanding the knowledge base regarding STEM education, a positive effect on K-12 student achievement and students’ interest in STEM-related fields will ensue—ultimately increasing the overall quality of STEM education in Texas. Building from our knowledge of best practices gained from evaluation projects specific to STEM teacher professional development (Evaluating the effectiveness of Mathematics, Science, and Technology Teacher Preparation Academies in Texas), the ERC is uniquely qualified to contribute to projects focused on strengthening the capacity of teachers and facilitating teacher professional learning.