This is the time of the year when a new group of science TOSAs (teachers on special assignment) tend to enter the realm of school district office science support. Now you may have a different term than TOSA in your neck of the woods- but basically this is a position where a classroom teacher continues to be paid a teacher salary (with perhaps a few extra hours thrown in) but does district office administrative level work to support science implementation.
Over the last 10 years I have worked with and supported many people in these Science TOSA positions and I’ve noticed that many school districts do not adequately support those who take on these positions. The skillset of a successful classroom science teacher is often not the same skillset necessary to be a successful science education leader. I’ve also noticed that there are a huge variety of roles that these Science TOSAs might be expected to take on- here are a few that come to mind:
Science Curriculum and Assessment expert K-5, MS, HS or all 3
Professional Development Designer and Provider
Meeting coordinator and facilitator
Science Materials Manager
Science Curriculum Review Committee Leader
and so much more
Some skills that Science TOSAs may need (that may differ from classroom teaching):
advocating for science instruction within your own district
working in uncertain and ever-changing environments
working with mostly adults (vs mostly kids)
navigating school district politics
managing a budget
While the following is not an exhaustive list- here are a few books that I highly recommend for the beginning Science TOSA. By the way- most of these are not science education specific. I’ll post a Part 2 in the future with some of my favorite science ed resources for new TOSAs.
This report provides some excellent evidence for future research, district implementation, teacher education, professional development, curriculum development and much more. The survey itself might be of interest to many and provides a strong model for developing surveys.
This is a short post to let you know about a webinar this Wednesday, January 9th titled: Realizing the Vision: NGSS District Implementation. In Washington, the state, we are engaging statewide to better support districts with NGSS implementation and I’m sure there will be some important ideas shared at this meeting.
The text below is copied from the Eventbrite site. Click HERE to register.
The Board on Science Education (BOSE) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) and Achieve are convening a meeting to explore the needs of districts implementing the Next Generation Science Standards and similar standards based on A Framework for K-12 Science Education.
The meeting is intended to surface lessons learned, productive collaborations across districts, and future challenges of implementing these standards and to identify ways that Achieve and BOSE—as well as other organizations with an interest in the Framework and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)—can work together to build districts’ capacity to improve science instruction for all students.
The focus on districts here is intentional: while the work enacting NGSS takes place at many levels in the educational system, school districts play a critical role as they implement national and state policies while managing local needs and the complexities of classrooms and communities.
Overview: Achieve recently released two tools for screening and reviewing science assessment tasks- the Science Task Prescreen and the Science Task Screener. These tools will be necessary additions to your toolbox of NGSS assessment resources.
Purpose: The Science Task Prescreen (my personal favorite) is a 1-pager with 8 questions that an individual or group can use to quickly review an assessment task and make some decisions about how and if it requires modification to meet the expectations of NGSS assessment shifts. The Science Task Screener is a more substantial tool that could be used for more in-depth review and modification of assessment tasks.
My friend and colleague, Tom Hathorn (@thathorn), recently launched his own website and blog that is focused on telling the ongoing story of his equity-focused science leadership learning and professional development. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Tom on multiple equity-focused events and I highly recommend adding his site to your equity and science bookmarks.
PURPOSE: These two tools are some of the best resources available for identifying prompts, tasks, and questions that guide students in engaging in the science and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts as they solve problems and explain phenomena. These tools have been updated and revised as feedback has come in from the field and other partners.
OVERVIEW: As many states, districts and schools move forward with implementation of the NGSS we all invariably encounter the idea of using phenomena to anchor our units of instruction. There are many great phenomena resources and I wanted to add another to the list- Project Phenomena is a Google site run through the San Diego County Office of Education where you will find a variety of searchable phenomena with information about recommended grades, NGSS PEs, and links.
PURPOSE: Project Phenomena is a worthwhile addition to ngssphenomena.com and other resources as we continue to design NGSS-based units of instruction that are driven by engaging and anchoring phenomena. Project Phenomena is nicely organized and provides clear information with each possible phenomena.
OVERVIEW: Achieve and the U.S. Education Delivery Institute recently developed the NGSS Adoption and Implementation Workbook to support states (and districts) in thoughtfully adopting and implementing the Next Generation Science Standards.
PURPOSE: The workbook provides a series of scaffolded exercises that a group can use to do everything from establishing a leadership team to articulating a vision and identifying stakeholders and developing a plan.
AUDIENCE: State and district science education leaders (while I am none of these roles- I also find this helpful as a PD provider and consultant in providing guidance for my work)
OVERVIEW: The Instructional Leadership for Science Practices (ILSP) is a project to support school principals and other instructional leaders in supporting shifts in science education practices. Their site provides multiple tools for instructional leaders to use in developing their own understanding of the required shifts in practices and how to support teachers in these same shifts.
PURPOSE: The ILSP project seeks to support instructional leaders in providing ambitious supervision of science teachers that provides a focus on engaging students in the science and engineering practices. The site provides supervision tools, instructional tools, example lessons and lots more. This is a great way for building principals to find science-specific support to supplement TPEP frameworks such as Danielson and CEL 5D.
AUDIENCE: Building principals, district leaders, coaches, TOSAs, lead teachers, professional development providers