Teacher candidates’ experiences in conducting professional development: A course instructor’s perspective
By Kwesi Yaro
This call for proposals has come at an opportune time when I am still grappling with ideas on a final project I am designing for a course I have been assigned to teach this summer as a sessional instructor. In relevance to this call, I argue for the need for teacher professional development for science and mathematics teachers with emphasis on teacher candidates gaining hands-on experience in planning and conducting professional development with community partner schools on connecting social justice, equity, placed-based and Indigenous knowledges pedagogies into math and science teaching.
Teacher candidates’ engagements with community has been seen to provide a sense of social responsibility, awareness to community and global issues, collaborative work and personality development. Thus, aspects of EDUC 452B 308 Inquiry III, which I will be teaching this summer are aimed at preparing mathematics and science teacher candidates to challenge themselves in making effective contributions to professional growth in their respective future schools and communities through getting involved and taking leadership roles in professional development activities.
This will require gaining not only theoretical knowledge of conducting successful professional development (Pro-D) but also, first-hand experience through working with community partners such as schools. Specifically, in an era where education has taken a more humanistic approach; based on the principles of human rights and dignity, cultural sustainability, social justice, peace, inclusion and protection” (UNESCO, 2016 p. 24), it is important that mathematics and science educators employ more critical perspectives in their teaching and learning in response to the myriad of national and international social, political and ecological challenges we face today. As a result, secondary math and science teacher candidates obtaining first-hand experience in planning and executing/leading Pro-D activities with a focus on infusing placed-based, social justice and Indigenous knowledges in mathematics and science curriculum will be beneficial not only the teacher candidates, but also the in-service teachers who also grapple with incorporating social justice, placed-based and Indigenous knowledges pedagogies in math and science lessons (Nicol, Bragg, Radzimski, Yaro, Chen, Amoah, 2017).
Thus, this proposed Pro-D activity for schools will encourage teachers to integrate critical issues of social concerns in mathematics and science teaching. Broadly, the proposed activity will also foster community engagement through rich learning experiences with community partners such as schools. Moreover, collaborating and working with community partners (schools) will continue to portray academic institutions as places that value inquiry learning, community building and cherish the integration of experiential, sustainability-focused, social justice, place-based learning and explore such abstract concepts while they make explicit connections to practice.
In closing, I hope to share with the audience (from an instructors perspective) my experiences with teacher candidates’ designing and leading professional development activities for in-service teachers on ways of infusing social justice, placed-based and Indigenous knowledge into the K-12 math and science curriculum.
Kwesi Yaro is a PhD candidate studying curriculum studies in Mathematics Education at the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy, University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada. He holds an MA in Mathematics Education from the University of British Columbia and BEd (Mathematics focus) from the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. Kwesi is also a Sessional Lecturer for Mathematics Methods courses at the Faculty of Education, UBC. Currently, he is working with researchers from multi-disciplinary STEM backgrounds to explore the possibilities and challenges confronting 21st-century teachers in teaching mathematics for social justice. For his doctoral research, he is employing Afrocentric worldviews to investigate cultural strategies African immigrant families deploy to support their children’s mathematics learning in the Canadian context. Kwesi hopes his research will contribute knowledge and insights that will guide teachers and other educators towards a more culturally responsive mathematics teaching.