March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

Preservice Teachers: Opportunities for Professional Learning at the CSTA Conference

Posted: Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

If you work with preservice teachers, we have a great opportunity for you to pass along to them. If you are a preservice teacher, we’ve got a great opportunity for you!

Next month CSTA will be hosting the 2015 California Science Education Conference in Sacramento. The conference will have more than 200 workshops, multiple lectures and keynote speakers, an amazing exhibit hall filled with the latest science equipment, instructional materials, and resources from commercial vendors and informal and non-profit partners. The three day event, October 2-4, includes something for everyone.

NASCO

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Here’s the part that will be particularly attractive to our preservice teachers. Volunteer at the conference and you will get free conference registration! What a deal! You volunteer for four hours, join CSTA at the student member rate of $25, and you get access to the entire conference (other than your volunteer shift).

Don’t want to give up four hours? Preservice teachers get a great registration rate for the conference as well. $90 for the entire conference, $45 for the weekend.

Conference Banner

You may be reading this and wondering, why should preservice teachers attend a conference like CSTA? There are many reasons we should encourage preservice participation.

  • Attending the conference will help them recognize that learning doesn’t end when they are finished with a degree or credential. Learning is continuous. Even better, when they see us there, they will see that teachers and university faculty participate in lifelong learning. This is important for everyone, but especially elementary teacher candidates who need to teach multiple subjects. At the conference they will see sessions by and for preK-5th grade which highlight the importance of science, demonstrate ways to integrate science with Common Core, and engage students in meaningful ways.
  • Attending the conference and joining CSTA are ways to help prospective teachers start their professional careers. They will start networking with others who are passionate about teaching science. When preservice teachers apply for teaching jobs, their early and ongoing participation in their own learning, beyond the required courses in a credential program, make them stand out.
  • They will learn new things! 45 hours of a science methods class is not enough hours to address everything. Our students have different needs. As much as we are able to differentiate, we know there are areas which we can’t fully address in a single methods class. The conference, with its wide variety of sessions, can help round out our class. There will be workshops related to Next Generation Science Standards – the policy issues and timelines, informational sessions about what NGSS is and how to make sense of the new standards, and numerous sessions that address the three dimensions of NGSS. There will be sessions for each grade level and disciplinary area – something that is really hard to do in a methods class that prepares K-8 teachers or all areas of high school teachers. There will be sessions to help us learn new science content, teaching methods, and out-of-classroom learning opportunities.

How can we (professors of credential students) encourage our students to attend?

  • We can require students to go (easier to do if you are near Sacramento) and cancel a class meeting in exchange for attending.
  • We can waive an assignment for students attending the conference (or give them a conference related assignment in place of an existing assignment).
  • We can remind students that all conference attendees have the option of earning 1 unit of upper division credit by attending 12 hours of conference sessions and doing written assignments.
  • We can share our own experiences with our students, letting them know how much we get from attending professional meetings and conferences. Sharing our excitement about the conference and learning opportunities goes a long way to encouraging them to attend.
  • We can tell them about the resume building potential of a conference. While that is not the reason I want them to attend, it might get them there. Once there, I know that they will find the experience to be beneficial.

Please pass this information along to preservice teachers you know or with whom you work. Research has shown us that the best teachers are professionally engaged. Let’s start our soon-to-be colleagues on that path. See you in Sacramento!

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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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.