Athens, Ga. – Thirteen Clarke County School District middle and high school science teachers, along with five UGA College of Education master’s students, will visit UGA science labs and meet with 10 science faculty from the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering on Dec. 4. The professional learning day on campus is a component of the Teach to Learn partnership between the College of Education and CCSD.
The goal is to connect local science teachers with UGA faculty and their research. Charles Kutal, professor and associate dean in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and a Teach to Learn Advisory Board member, organized the event, along with Julie Luft, Athletics Association Professor of Science and Mathematics Education, and Amy Peacock, CCSD K-12 science coach.
The daylong event will kick off with a welcome and orientation at 8:30 a.m. in the department of chemistry. Throughout the day, each teacher will have the opportunity to visit three UGA faculty scientists in their labs. Teachers will go in small groups based on their interest areas to labs such as cellular biology, chemistry, astronomy and physics.
“This day not only provides teachers the opportunity to learn about exciting scientific research, but they also will hear practicing scientists explain why a particular problem was chosen and the potential impact of the research on society,” Kutal said. “The fact that every UGA faculty member contacted immediately agreed to participate demonstrates their recognition of the importance of interacting with their K-12 counterparts.”
“All science teachers strive for their students to think and act in the classroom as scientists do in the laboratory,” Peacock said. “These laboratory visits and interactions with UGA scientists will expose Teach to Learn participants to the leading edge science research conducted on the UGA campus. Teachers can then transfer these practices into the classroom.”
CCSD schools represented include Clarke Middle School, Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School, Coile Middle School, Hilsman Middle School and Cedar Shoals High School. Five of the CCSD teachers are veteran science teachers, called Teacher-Coaches, and eight of the teachers are in their first through third years of teaching science, called Early Career Teachers. The five College of Education students, called Teacher-Residents, are placed in Teacher-Coaches classrooms for two years while they earn their master’s degree.
Teach to Learn Partnership
The Teach to Learn Partnership is a two-year teacher induction grant funded by the Georgia Governor’s Office for Student Achievement Race To the Top Innovation Fund. The program systematically streamlines and strengthens the process of supporting middle and high school math and science teachers during their first three years of teaching through intensive mentoring provided by effective, experienced teachers called Teacher-Coaches. Teacher-Coaches also support promising new college graduates hired as UGA College of Education Teacher-Residents. These aspiring teachers earn a master’s degree while teaching in the schools 20 hours per week under the supervision of the Teacher-Coaches. This structure gives the coaches the opportunity to leave their classrooms to mentor, co-teach, and plan with the Early Career Teachers. They also serve as teacher leaders in their schools. Thus, the three cohorts of teachers support one another, promising to improve the recruitment and retention of well-trained, effective teachers and improve the quality of science and math instruction.