Recruiting the Teaching Staff

We recommend that each Research Community of 15-20 participants (Scholars) be led by two teaching staff: one college and one school faculty. (In our later programs we also had project alumni/ae serve as co-leaders as part of their leadership training.) It is, of course, essential to have teaching staff who are experts in their field, superb teachers, and work well with others. Such a high standard is not just a courtesy to participating teachers, it is essential because the act of teaching itself is the most powerful instructional tool available to any professional development program.

College Faculty

The college faculty must be excellent teachers and actively engaged in research - they must bring the enthusiasm and knowledge of a working scientist and the knowledge of how to formulate appropriate research questions. They do not have to be experts in the classroom strategies listed in this handbook, but they must be willing to learn, to adjust their teaching to include them, and to read the articles assigned to the participants. They cannot just "give lectures and run labs." They will find it more difficult adjusting to cooperative learning, inclusion, assessment, cognitive development and parental/community involvement than to incorporate the learning of science through writing, math, and computer technology. (We also recommend that you invite only tenured faculty to participate; this is a very time-consuming program and is not appropriate for young science faculty who should be engaged in research.)

School Faculty

The school faculty members of the teaching teams must also be excellent teachers of science, and must be knowledgeable and articulate about recent developments in cognitive learning theory and essential classroom strategies. They are more likely than college faculty to have had experience with team teaching - something that needs to be discussed and refined regularly at staff meetings. The teachers will be very helpful emphasizing classroom practically; they will have a more difficult time adjusting to a research-driven (and therefore flexible) syllabus.

It is important that everyone (staff and Scholars) understand that the college and school faculty are a teaching team - not a lecturer and lab assistant. Ideally, school faculty will represent different backgrounds: elementary/secondary, rural/urban, men/women, new/experienced, etc. If the Scholars include bilingual classroom teachers who are not comfortable with the technical English of science and classroom pedagogy, it is important to have a staff member with those linguistic skills. In the Partnership, we pay the school faculty who are members of teaching teams at the same rate as their college colleagues; traditional payment systems that calculate fees as a percent of academic year salary will almost always favor the college faculty.

Additional Team Members

Teams will sometimes need skills not provided by the instructional pairs. In our project, we needed special strengths in computer applications - especially in using spreadsheets and telecommunications. In another project, it might be a college faculty member from the Department of Education, staff member from a science museum or environmental center, or an environmental researcher from a private company or public agency. It is, of course, vital that these team members participate in all planning meetings and activities, do all the reading, and develop the same team teaching skills expected of the school and college faculty. We have also benefited by having college and high school students serve as teaching assistants in our program.

Additional Consultants

It is, of course, possible to bring in consultants on virtually any scientific or pedagogical topic. We benefited from having individual researchers work with research communities (for example, a plant pathologist who raised a strain of tobacco plants used as an indicator of ozone pollution) and from having the author of our reading selection on cognitive development lead workshops on that subject. These guests have also served as on-going resources for some participants. Over the years, however, the Partnership has found that most one-day consultants misjudge the expertise of their audience (in either direction) and would be better used as consultants to the staff rather than to the participants. There is also the danger of filling all the time with new ideas/people and not giving Scholars enough time to engage in and reflect on their research.

Staff Meetings

It is essential that instructional and administrative staff maintain regular contact at meetings, via minutes/mailings and, if possible, email. Our staff met monthly in the six months before the project began, and then after each single-day event and once a week during the summer programs. It is vital that these meetings focus on issues which are best addressed by the entire group (how to integrate classroom strategies into all the teaching, how the schedule is working, ways to team teach, how each participant is progressing) and not on information that can be communicated more efficiently in writing (reimbursement and ordering procedures, etc.) Each instructional team also needs to meet regularly. We sometimes scheduled these before or after our all-staff meetings in order to reduce travel time. In our shorter programs, the staff met at the end of every day, reading journals and talking with the Research Community and then meeting as a full group to make any adjustments in the next day's activities.

A list of our NSF/5C5E teaching staff is included with the list of participants.