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Inquiry into Mathematics and Science Teaching

For the past three weeks I have been engaged in exploring different issues of mathematics and science teaching and learning with my teacher-candidates (pre-service mathematics and science teachers). Our group has 21 student-teachers. They chose a topic they wanted to research individually and then had to explore it in more depth and consequently present it to the rest of us. I was more like a mentor and facilitator, than as a lecturer… The topic range was amazing: from using simulations in mathematics and science classrooms, to clickers, teaching students who do not speak English well, implementing different ways of assessing student knowledge, engaging students in group work, motivating them in STEM studies, investigating the cultural effects on STEM teaching and learning, as well as maintaining life-work balance. As I was listened to my students’ presentations, I kept thinking how we will support these motivated teachers during their first years in the job. I can see that they do want to make a difference, they are open to learning and to working towards becoming great teachers, but what is our responsibility as a society towards them. I have read about Germany and other countries where new teachers are mentored when they start their careers… Here is Canada, most of the new teachers are asked to be substitute teachers for a while. Is it a wise approach? How can you be mentored in this situation? How do we maintain the link between them and the Faculties of Education, so they engage in meaningful continuous professional development throughout their lives? Every time I think of a teacher, I ask myself if I would be happy if he or she taught my own children. When I think of the student-teachers who will graduate from my class, I can honestly say that I will be happy if they were to teach my kids, but they still have a lot to learn. They will need support and how do we build it into the system. I hope to maintain connections with them, but I think it should go beyond that… I wish all my student-teachers a very productive and positive experience on their practicum and all the best in their future science and mathematics teaching!

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