March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

How You Can Become a Leader in California Science Education

Posted: Thursday, August 1st, 2013

by Laura Henriques

Two years ago you, the CSTA membership, elected me to serve as President-Elect. Time has flown by and I have now taken over as President. As I start my presidency I am anxious to help you grow as a science education leader at your site, district, region or state. I know that people don’t go from being a solitary classroom teacher to Board Member/President in a single step – there are lots of smaller steps along the way. Especially in light of all of the opportunities and changes facing California science educators at this time, I want to encourage you to consider moving one step forward on your leadership journey.

  • Start Locally. Don’t think about jumping into a huge leadership position right away, start small! Maybe you are ready to serve as a mentor teacher for preservice students doing fieldwork, for a student teacher, or for a teacher in the BTSA program. Perhaps you could lead a workshop for your grade-level team. If you’ve been actively involved in reading and reviewing NGSS you could help folks at your site understand how NGSS and Common Core align. Maybe there is a newer teacher at your school with whom you could co-plan or mentor. It doesn’t have to be a formal mentor arrangement, but you can be a supportive colleague, share your expertise and help move them to the next level. Think of something that is small and discrete in scope.  For example, rather than agreeing to take on placing all student teachers at your school, have a student teacher for a semester. Or, instead of signing up to do an entire year’s worth of workshops, help prep and lead a single workshop (or co-lead a workshop).  These approaches allow you to focus your energy and succeed with a doable task at hand.
  • Ready for the next step? Think about getting involved beyond your own classroom or school site. How could you get involved at the district level and beyond? Are there task forces in your district looking at how Common Core overlaps with science? Could you be involved in helping others understand what that looks like (while recognizing that simply reading and writing about science is not synonymous with doing science)? Are there projects or professional development opportunities at the local university or informal science education sites near you? Are you interested in contributing to CSTA? We are always looking for members to serve on committees, write articles for California Classroom Science (CCS), present at the CSTA conference, or volunteer to be nominated for state level committees. In fact, one of the benefits of membership is that CSTA is often asked for names of candidates to serve on state educational committees. We just submitted names to serve on the Instructional Quality Commission and several CSTA members served on the California NGSS Science Expert Panel. As the new standards role out there will be other opportunities for CSTA to nominate members to serve.
  • Why this matters. California science education is in a different place today than we were two years ago. We are on the precipice of adopting new science standards. Once that happens we will begin to see the development of a California Science Framework, new science assessments, development of curriculum materials and lots of opportunities for professional learning. As with any change, there will be some periods of disequilibrium. Together as a science teaching community we can help each other with the transition. We have some time, as the new standards probably won’t be fully implemented in classrooms with high stakes tests until 2016-17 at the earliest. This means we can work together with colleagues on-site, in our district and region, through social media, and at professional development events (like the CSTA conference or other area PD events) to learn from each other, discuss challenges, get new information, share successful strategies, and more.

I am encouraging you to step up and get involved. Grow as a leader, yourself, and help us build leadership capacity in the state. You can also be a talent scout for us – find colleagues who you think are ready to move forward.  Please contact me if you would be willing to serve on a committee, write for CCS, or to find other ways to get involved with CSTA. Becoming a leader happens over time, but it starts with a single step.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and past-president of CSTA. She serves as chair of CSTA’s Nominating Committee and is a co-chair of the NGSS Committee.

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For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.

The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.

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CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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Marian Murphy-Shaw

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Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.