Michigan, like the rest of the nation, faces a critical shortage of qualified middle school science teachers. This shortage reflects a complex set of interrelated problems associated with recruiting new individuals into the profession, preparing them to meet the needs of young adolescents, and providing them with sufficient professional support during the crucial first few years of their careers. This project models excellence in middle school science teacher preparation as well as addressing local needs by developing programs that comprise an integrated solution to these problems. Faculty and staff at Western Michigan University, Lake Michigan College and Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Kalamazoo, Portage and Vicksburg school districts are working together in the pursuit of several distinct strategies aimed at:1) enlisting motivated and qualified prospective middle school science teachers by promoting teacher education programs at Western Michigan University, Lake Michigan College, and Kalamazoo Valley Community College and disseminating this information to K-12 counselors in participating school districts, 2) equipping prospective middle school teachers by deepening and extending the program of science content courses offered at these colleges that model effective teaching strategies and meet their unique needs. This project is also creating a middle school science minor, composed of specific inquiry-based science courses for elementary teachers and science discipline courses for majors and minors, and 3) empowering middle school science teachers by providing professional mentoring and developing appropriate programs for novice teachers that address their needs for additional content background and inquiry-based learning strategies. Professional development meetings and workshops in the cooperating districts to support novice teachers and their mentors are a part of the project. Workshops for graduate credit through existing organizations are offered as well. In the short term, implementation of this program is resulting in the creation of a new middle science minor, enhanced science content courses, and professional development meetings and workshops. Curricular materials from undergraduate and graduate courses, as well as professional development meetings, are available nationwide via written materials, seminars, and the world wide web. In the long term, current research suggests that this comprehensive approach leads to improved scores on teacher certification exams, increased participation of teachers at regional and national meetings, lower teacher attrition rates, and improved student scores on local, state, and national standardized exams.
Enlist, Equip, and Empower (E3): An Integrated Program for Middle School Science Teachers