As a former high school science teacher, I know that teaching science is challenging. My teaching philosophy for educating future teachers (and students at any level) is to involve them in what Grossman et al. (2009) describe as an approximation of practice, reflecting a view of teaching and learning as participating in the practices of the field. Accordingly, I aim to involve students in authentic practices from the field of study.
For example, in teacher education classes, this plays out through giving students opportunities to both participate in as well as plan and enact activities focused upon engaging in scientific and engineering practices. Thus far, I have focused the project-based instruction science teaching methods course around this goal. In the first class of the semester, for example, students engaged in an activity focused on developing and revising a diagrammatic model, like a logic model, for what they think equitable science teaching is. In this activity, students in the course are involved in a scientific and engineering practice, scientific modeling, in a way that can lower the barrier to entry into the practice for them. In turn, this activity serves as a reference point throughout the semester as my students plan activities for theirs that involve students in modeling and other scientific and engineering practices, such as analyzing and interpreting data, a practice that is the focus (along with modeling) of my research on data science education.
In graduate-level classes, I focus on engaging students in scholarly practices, particularly critiquing and contributing to ongoing conversations about educational policy and practice. In the nature of science and mathematics course that I taught, students interviewed a scientist or a mathematician as well as a student about their views on the nature of the science. Then students compared and contrasted what they learned from their interviews with representations of the science or math discipline as represented in recent reform documents and curricular standards.
In sum, my teaching philosophy is centered on involving students in the practices characteristic of the discipline they are studying. In teacher education coursework, this means that students have the opportunity to engage in scientific and engineering practices in my class—and to design and carry out activities that focus on creating similar opportunities for their students. In graduate-level classes, my teaching philosophy is implemented via course activities that ask students to enter scholarly conversations about what it means to teach and learn science (and mathematics). This philosophy is in response to the challenges of teaching and learning and students’ need to be prepared to not only know about the content they are studying, but to know how to apply it. While I focus in my teaching on practices characteristic of the field of study, I also aim to provide opportunities to encounter and to learn about contemporary educational issues and challenges: In this way, being involved in disciplinary practices is at the center of my teaching philosophy, but doing so does not (and should not) prohibit students’ development as thoughtful and critical educators and education graduate students.