Changing Expectations for the K-12 Geography Teacher Workforce

Type: Virtual Panel
Sponsor Groups: Careers and Professional Development
Poster #:
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM (PDT)
Room: Virtual 29
Organizers: Michael Solem
Chairs: Michael Solem

Call for Submissions

We seek teachers, teacher educators, social studies coordinators, geography education researchers, and other stakeholders to participate on this panel.


A recent study by the National Academies* examined new demands and challenges facing the nation’s K-12 teacher workforce. Noteworthy findings include (as summarized in an official press release):

Teaching goals – In order to align with new content standards and learning goals, teachers are expected to have a higher level of knowledge of the content they teach, as well as of pedagogy. For example, to help prepare students for the workforce, many teachers have been asked to provide deeper learning experiences. Beyond just teaching students academic content, deeper learning requires that teachers help students develop the ability to apply content to novel problems and situations, and help them develop new competencies, such as people skills or self-control. Teachers are also increasingly called on to use culturally responsive teaching methods and have a greater understanding of students' social and emotional growth.

Curriculum and exams – National and state education policies have changed such that teachers are required not only to meet new curriculum standards but also to personally select and create instructional materials and be held accountable for student performance on mandated state exams.

Student diversity – The student population of America’s public schools has grown substantially more diverse, outpacing any changes observed in the composition of the teacher workforce. Teachers are often charged with ensuring that classrooms serve as equitable learning communities, fostering trusting and caring relationships among students and with teachers. As such, teachers are more explicitly tasked with having a deep understanding of their students and the experiences they bring to the classroom, in order to create supportive learning environments for children and youth from a broad range of backgrounds and learning needs.

Community and relationships – Teachers are called on to serve as a bridge between the school and families and communities. The report explains that teachers are often expected to communicate more quickly and frequently with parents and their community, sometimes using methods such as email or texting.

Panelists will discuss ways in which geography teachers are affected by these changing expectations and what new research and forms of training, professional development, and curriculum approaches may be needed to support them.

* National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Changing Expectations for the K-12 Teacher Workforce: Policies, Preservice Education, Professional Development, and the Workplace. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Introduction Michael Solem National Center for Research in Geography Education 10 9:35 AM
Panelist Injeong Jo Texas State University 10 9:45 AM
Panelist Thomas Herman San Diego State University 10 9:55 AM
Panelist Kelly Leon 10 10:05 AM

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