From Good Teachers to Great Teaching

Posted by on June 24, 2011 in Featured, Research | 0 comments

From Good Teachers to Great Teaching: STEM Teachers Thrive in Professional Learning Communities
New NCTAF Research Supports Value of Teamwork to Improve Science and Mathematics Teaching and Learning

WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 24, 2011

Congresswoman Donna Edwards and four other Congressional sponsors joined Barbara Olds (National Science Foundation), Brad Jupp (US Department of Education), Ted Imes (Northrop Grumman), Talia Milgrom-Elcott (Carnegie Corporation of New York), and teachers from Prince George’s County, Maryland at a Congressional forum focusing on the power of teamwork to improve STEM education. At this forum, the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF) released a new publication: STEM Teachers in Professional Learning Communities: From Good Teachers to Great Teaching.

Speaking at the forum, Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (4th District, Maryland) said, “A firm understanding of the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is essential to ensuring that our students can compete in the 21st century global economy. It is well documented that improving teaching quality is one of the most important investments we can make, guaranteeing that today’s students are well prepared for college, careers, and civic life.”

“Great teaching is a team sport,” said Tom Carroll, NCTAF President. “This report shows that when teachers team up they are able to create a culture of success in schools, leading to better teaching and greater student learning gains.”

With support from the National Science Foundation and in collaboration with WestEd, NCTAF conducted a two-year analysis of research studies that document what happens when science, technology, engineering, and math teachers work together in professional learning communities to improve teaching and increase student achievement. The report released today summarizes that work and provides examples of projects building on that model.

The report warns that current teacher performance appraisal, compensation, and incentive systems that focus on individual effort at the expense of the collaborative professional capacity building may be seriously undermining our efforts to develop the innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders we need to participate in the complex global community.

As states and districts face dire budget cuts, we need to find innovative ways to organize STEM teaching to bring greater learning gains with a more cost-effective deployment of existing teaching resources. In his statement of support, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia reinforced this imperative, noting that, “An educational system that does not periodically review its operations or look for ways to improve its procedures will not produce the type of potential employee that companies need to remain competitive.”

Dr. Carroll called on education leaders to transform their schools from teaching organizations into learning organizations by building on these research findings. He noted that, “We have been trying to improve schools the old-fashioned way – one teacher at a time. It is time to recognize that stand-alone teaching in self-contained classrooms won’t prepare today’s students for 21st century college or careers – we need to capitalize on the power of teamwork that is the key to success in every high performing organization in our economy.”

NCTAF put research into action by creating STEM Learning Studios that enable learning teams – composed of digital-age teachers, tech-savvy youth, veteran educators, and skill-based volunteers – to develop innovative responses to complex learning challenges. Learning Studios support deeper student learning, more effective teaching, and high impact engagement of STEM industry professionals in education.

At today’s forum, teachers working in a STEM Learning Studio funded through a NASA grant spoke passionately about how teaming is changing their teaching. These math, science, and technology teachers from Bowie High School in Prince George’s County, Maryland work in teams with scientists and engineers from Goddard Space Flight Center to develop interdisciplinary projects that engage their students in STEM content in powerful new ways. These teachers demonstrate how teamwork brings STEM teaching into the 21st  century, moving from good teachers to great teaching in collaborative Learning Studios.


“Team Up for Deeper STEM Teaching and Learning”
Congressional Visitor Center 217S (House Meeting Rooms)

Friday, June 24 – 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Contact: Elizabeth Foster


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