If we are to change our nation’s view on science, we need to enlist teachers who know their content and can portray the information in a versatile manner.”

Jeffrey’s Story

Students in today’s classrooms will inherit complex problems that require perspectives from multiple disciplines, cultures, and political structures to work toward a solution. This requires the design of curricular materials that explore complex problems that are relevant to students and supporting teachers and schools in navigating these conversations within and beyond their schools. Jeffrey Spencer supports learning environments that are inclusive of multiple perspectives to explore socio-scientific issues.

As an undergraduate, Jeffrey struggled to connect the meaning behind the classes he was taking, often because they focused on singular solutions to well-defined problems. This was held in tension with the complexities of working in a research lab, where it required collaboration between teams of people to work on open-ended problems that mattered in everyday life. He remembered these experiences as a High School Chemistry teacher in Aurora, CO, where he connected ideas learned in the classroom to the diverse cultural perspectives represented in the community. In this context, he collaborated with the teaching team to make learning relevant for their students, continuously finding resources and adapting them to promote student sensemaking using the Science and Engineering Practices. His passion for connecting cultural perspectives and science learning led him to focus on designing for cultural relevance with his graduate work. In this role, he worked on a collaborative design project in Northern Alaska that brought together Indigenous community members, education researchers, instructors, designers, and climate scientists to build a curriculum that explored snow chemistry and climate change using practices that affirm Indigenous knowledge and Western Science perspectives.

Jeffrey graduated from Hononegah Community High School in Rockton, Ill. and earned his BS and MS from the University of Illinois, and his Ph. D. from University of Michigan. He currently works as an Instructional Coach for Illinois Regional Office of Education #17, Co-Founder of an organization that supports teachers and school districts with classroom innovation, and is a curriculum designer to advocate for cultural relevance in science education.

Knowles Academy Courses Taught

Implementing Teacher Coaching to Improve Classroom Practice and Student Learning