The objective of the Teaching Practica is to improve teaching methods and expand professional education skills. These objectives are achieved by giving graduate students multiple opportunities to teach a variety of ages under the guidance of Teton Science Schools’ graduate faculty. The teaching practicum integrates the foundation of Teton Science Schools, applies coursework content understanding and develops leadership, while seeking to build the core competencies of a skilled educator. The Teaching Practica inform teaching practice, and nurture developing educators’ skills and instructional identity.
Teaching Practica Opportunities
Graduate students teach in Teton Science Schools’ Education Program for 13 weeks during the academic year (4-5 weeks in Fall Semester and 9 weeks in Spring Semester) and an additional 6 weeks during the Summer Capstone Practicum. Teaching is supported through direct mentorship, seminars, observations and reflection. Teaching opportunities include rotations through multi-day residential field science courses, classroom and field instruction in K-12 schools, extended summer courses, Journeys School, and with partner organizations. In addition, there are up to 7 teaching preparation weeks throughout the year.
Graduate faculty supervisors oversee each teaching practicum team. Faculty supervisors possess a master’s degree or higher, and are in charge of supervising 4-8 graduate students each semester. This includes the administration of programs, scheduling of graduate students in various teaching opportunities, supervising graduate students in the execution of programs, and mentoring graduate students in their development as educators.
Seasonal Developmental Emphases
Each season presents new opportunities for development of educational skills and topics; emphases will be approached on a continuum, with mentors and graduate students focusing on individual expertise and teaching goals. The seasonal progression includes the following topics:
• Fall Semester: Student management, positive learning environments, field teaching techniques, place-based education and reflective practice.
• Spring Semester: Winter - Instructional and assessment strategies, learning styles, developmental theory and teaching science as inquiry. Spring - Curriculum planning, backwards design, advanced lesson plan development, questioning strategies and action research.
• Summer Semester: The Capstone Teaching Practicum is the culminating experience for the Graduate Program where students synthesize their year-long learning in a challenging and practical way.
Capstone Teaching Practicum
The Capstone Teaching Practicum is the culminating experience of the Graduate Program. It enables students to synthesize their year-long learning in an authentic, challenging and practical way. Many graduate students share that this was the most valuable experience of their year Graduate Program. During the Capstone, graduate students will:
- Apply innovative leadership in authentic, new, and broader programming experiences
- Special focus on vision & action in application to capstone (ie – curriculum design, implementation & evaluation)
- Synthesize learnings as an effective educator and knowledgeable field scientist
- Focus on practice of conscientious community membership and development of community within student groups
Capstone Opportunities June & July
• 8 weeks of program leadership & field teaching and 1 week of summer break
Jackson Hole Science Expedition
• Four week science course for high school students focused on field ecology & field research
• Week-long backpacking trip in the Tetons
Expressions in Art & Nature
• Three week field course exploring arts & writing in nature, natural history & the outdoors
• Multi-day backcountry trip
Sustainability and Leadership
• Lead 3 week field program focused on sustainability and leadership for urban high school students from ethnically diverse backgrounds