Peer Teacher Workshops (PTWs) provide opportunities for teachers to focus on grade-level science content as they deepen their understanding of how to effectively use their instructional materials. Designed with careful attention to research on high-quality professional development, PTWs focus on developing student understanding of important science concepts, classroom management techniques, strategies for assessing student learning and alignment to state standards. The workshops also provide participants with the opportunity to discuss potential stumbling blocks to learning and apply effective teaching strategies to address the needs of all students.
The Merck Institute for Science Education (MISE) offers two types of PTWs. Tier one workshops are offered to teachers new to the inquiry-based science modules used at their grade level. These workshops are designed to increase familiarity with a module as well as deepen teacher understanding of the concepts students are expected to learn.
Tier two workshops are offered to teachers who are experienced in using the instructional materials. These workshops focus on deepening teacher understanding of the science content in the modules. Participants learn to identify the major concepts students are expected to learn and how those are developed by each of the investigations within the module. The workshops also develop participants' understanding of how students learn science.
PTWs have been a core professional development strategy of MISE and its partners since the Institute's inception. Through this professional development, teachers have repeated opportunities to reflect on their practice, deepen their understanding of science and master increasingly sophisticated teaching strategies. More than 6,000 teachers have participated in nearly 400 workshops since the program's inception.
In preparation for the PTWs, MISE conducts a Professional Development Design Workshop (PDDW) for Instructional Teams (ITs) responsible for planning and facilitating workshops for their colleagues. The PDDW focuses on developing the ITs' knowledge of professional development design for module-based workshops. ITs deepen their understanding of effective science instruction, practice facilitation skills for adult learners and draw on these enhanced understandings to design and plan for PTWs.