We have identified three primary areas of opportunity for the UTeach Institute:
- Respond to the current need to increase the number of qualified STEM teachers and diversify the UTeach STEM teacher pipeline to reflect the K–12 student population by developing innovative UTeach program pathways and expanding UTeach to additional colleges and universities, including HBCUs.
- Respond to the current need for culturally responsive teachers who are adept in flexible instructional contexts by strengthening the UTeach program model and curriculum to reflect the latest research on STEM teaching and learning as well as best practices in hybrid and blended instruction, in ways that address issues of equity, inclusion, and racial justice.
- Respond to the current need to broaden participation and reduce equity gaps for students historically excluded from STEM learning opportunities through equity-centered STEM curriculum solutions and in-service teacher development.
These opportunities are paralleled by current challenges to the work we do. The primary challenges at this time are related to the downtrend in STEM teaching interest and production nationally, insufficient leadership support for teacher preparation at institutions of higher education, low-cost alternatives to university routes to teaching, and competition for low-cost STEM curriculum and PD solutions.
Based on current opportunities and challenges, we have identified the following Big Questions that will inform our work over the next three to five years.
How do we translate our commitment to social justice and equity to UTeach program improvements? How do we collaborate across the network to draw on expertise and ensure sharing of best practices?
How do we best develop and support STEM teachers to meet the current demands of delivering instruction in flexible and innovative ways that continue to engage students and support their social and emotional learning needs?
How do we adapt and expand the UTeach program model to reach more diverse preservice candidates in broader contexts (community colleges, HBCUs, Hispanic-serving institutions, affiliated institutions of higher education, etc.)? How do we translate what we learn from these new contexts to continuously strengthen the program model?
How do we strengthen messaging and communication about UTeach program benefits and outcomes and UTeach expansion opportunities to increase awareness of and interest in our work? How do we distinguish and create demand for our programs, solutions, and offerings in the marketplace?
How do we effectively advocate at local, state, and federal levels for prioritizing STEM teacher preparation and ongoing development? Specifically, how do we strengthen leadership support for STEM teacher preparation at institutions of higher education?