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Publication Date


Publication Title

The Science Teacher


National Science Teaching Association


Science teachers need to consider how they want to grow professionally. Thinking about one’s future involves identifying the knowledge, practices, and attributes needed in a new role. By using a framework such as the science education trajectory (SET), teachers can more easily consider their professional options and work strategically toward them.

The report on science teacher learning (NASEM 2015) emphasizes that teachers need strategic and coherent learning opportunities. Until there are defined pathways toward different positions, science teachers will need to organize their learning opportunities in such a way that they can learn intentionally and progressively. This is important to consider, as teachers do not typically have a prepared program of professional development opportunities tailored to their personal needs or professional goals (NASEM 2015).

Most professional development programs available to science teachers focus on improving instructional practice (Luft and Hewson 2014). This seems appropriate with the emergence of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) (NGSS Lead States 2013), but these types of programs comprise only one area in the universe of potential professional opportunities.

Our goal is to help science teachers consider their professional options. We suggest a process to build a professional growth or learning plan, which we call a SET. A SET is specific to science education, and describes the knowledge, practices, and attributes a teacher needs to develop in order to progress to a new professional role (Luft et al. forthcoming). While this is not a classroom-based article, we hope to show teachers how they can grow professionally and benefit their students, their learning environment, and the science teaching profession.


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