Source: Action in Teacher Education, Volume 36, Issue 3, p. 211–233, 2014
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article examines in-service elementary teachers’ reflections on their science teaching when working with diverse students.
The participants were six in-service elementary teachers, who were participated in a professional development experience.
The authors used two tools to collect teachers’ reflective writings.
One tool was VAT, which allow teachers to easily view, clip, and examine video of their teaching, and the online accessibility of the tool.
Another tool used in this study was a framework of questions (Deaton, 2012) that was developed to scaffold the participants’ analyses of their science teaching videos in VAT.
Three types of data were collected to develop a deeper understanding of elementary teachers’ reflections: teacher-developed text, video recordings, and interviews.
The findings provide an understanding of how these teachers examined their teaching and beliefs about their science teaching practice.
Participants’ reflections indicated that knowledge of their students’ culture and backgrounds influenced their teaching practices and the focus of their reflections.
Additionally, the participants would even integrate nonscience examples into their science teaching reflections to emphasize the impact of certain issues and/or events on their teaching practice.
It was evident that the participants evaluated the effectiveness of their science teaching to meet the needs of their students and made significant efforts to account for their students’ language and cultural differences.
They became aware of the need to address issues of diversity within their classrooms.
Participants, who recognized inconsistencies between their beliefs about teaching and their actual science teaching practice, began to develop an understanding of how their beliefs influenced their teaching practice and more specifically, how they impact the ELLs in their classroom.
The authors also found that the participants examined five themes of teaching:
(1) navigating the school world,
(2) managing the technical classroom,
(3) negotiating barriers,
(4) nurturing all students, and
(5) understanding learning.
They understood that students’ home lives influence their academic experiences,therefore they began to create a classroom environment that valued students and provided a platform for actively engaging them in science.
They recognized the importance of using examples, visuals, and experiences that were relevant to students to help them make meaningful connections to the science content and the language of science.
They realized that by providing relevant and meaning examples, they were allowing their students to more fully participate in science lessons or begin to access relevant prior knowledge.
They also contextualized their teaching by examining how they (1) interacted with students, (2) connected language with science content, (3) built on students previous knowledge, and (4) assisted students in learning language through modeling, questioning, and clarifying.
The authors suggest that teachers need multiple opportunities to engage in reflective practice about their science teaching and narrow down the focus of their reflections.
This study did provide a support mechanism, VAT, for teachers to enhance their science teaching practice and reflective practice and act as a forum to facilitate their own professional development.