Learning to teach science in urban schools

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Abstract

Teaching in urban schools, with their problems of violence, lack of resources, and inadequate funding, is difficult. It is even more difficult to learn to teach in urban schools. Yet learning in those locations where one will subsequently be working has been shown to be the best preparation for teaching. In this article we propose coteaching as a viable model for teacher preparation and the professional development of urban science teachers. Coteaching—working at the elbow of someone else—allows new teachers to experience appropriate and timely action by providing them with shared experiences that become the topic of their professional conversations with other coteachers (including peers, the cooperating teacher, university supervisors, and high school students). This article also includes an ethnography describing the experiences of a new teacher who had been assigned to an urban high school as field experience, during which she enacted a curriculum that was culturally relevant to her African American students, acknowledged their minority status with respect to science, and enabled them to pursue the school district standards. Even though coteaching enables learning to teach and curricula reform, we raise doubts about whether our approaches to teacher education and enacting science curricula are hegemonic and oppressive to the students we seek to emancipate through education. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 38: 941–964, 2001

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