I recognize and appreciate the intense and nurturing structures that need to be in place to create educative spaces that support teacher learning as new teachers begin the intellectually challenging work of exploring their practice in the company of a critical friends. I am excited to join the Knowles community, where teacher learning and leading from practice is supported and valued. I look forward to exploring ways to support teacher sustainability.”

Laura’s Story

Dr. Laura Shafer began her career as a molecular biology research assistant. Over the course of nine years, she noticed a misalignment with she was doing as a scientist and what she saw in science classrooms. Specifically, she noticed that students were presented with few opportunities to engage in the epistemological practices of science. This realization led her to pursue a career in science education. In her subsequent teaching of biology, chemistry and physics, she focused on facilitating student engagement in the practices of science to develop students’ inquisitiveness about the natural world and to inspire them to move beyond just acquiring knowledge towards building critical thinking skills. While teaching, Laura worked collaboratively with other science educators to design and implement a thematic Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) practice-based curriculum that provided access and relevance to all of her students while increasing the rigor of student learning outcomes. Upon discovering a need to know more about the new reforms in education and how adults learn, she enrolled in doctoral studies in science education while remaining in the classroom.

Through participation in projects such as the Innovations in STEM Teaching and Research Project (ISTAR), a professional learning community; and Project Integrating Science and Engineering Education (iSEE), a professional development program, Laura honed in on her desire to provide the support science teachers need to implement NGSS in the classroom.

Most recently, Laura worked as the program manager for the Sacramento Area Science Project (SASP), a partnership with California State University, Sacramento and the University of California, Davis. In this role, she designed and facilitated professional development with teacher leaders that provided support and resources to increase in-service teacher implementation of NGSS and Common Core state standards.

Laura holds a B.A. in biology from Hood College, and an M.A. and a Ph.D., both in science education from the University of California, Davis. Her areas of interest include exploring student engagement in the practices of science, supporting teacher practitioner inquiry, and establishing and sustaining critical friends networks 

In her spare time, Laura enjoys swimming, biking and traveling. She currently resides in Davis, CA.

Email address: laura.shafer@knowlesteachers.org

Curriculum Vitae

Knowles Academy Courses Taught

Designing Lesson Sequences to Increase Student Engagement in Science Practices
Exploring a Phenomenon Through the Practices of Science
Exploring Student Work to Build an Understanding of Student Engagement in Science Practices