Essays on Teacher Preparation by Workshop Participants
My organization, the National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA), represents about a thousand K-12 teachers of earth science around the country. Unlike other participants, I gather, we do not take part directly in recruiting future earth science teachers, or play a direct role in the precollege coursework or preparation of future teachers. However, this past year, as president of NESTA I was able to take part in the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) task force on the national science standards revision proposal for professional development. Several of our board members and I conferred over the basic coursework and experiences we would recommend for preservice earth science teachers. I presented our recommendations to the NSTA task force last August. The formal proposal was submitted National Council of Science at the end of the year. Individually, our members do take on student teachers as part of their role of classroom teacher, and in that capacity may advise the pre-service teachers about relevant coursework and field experiences. The role of mentor teacher would be outside of the NESTA organization. I would like to note that from our demographics and those presented in the document Revolution in Earth Science Education, over 80% of our membership are certified to teach earth science; this compares with the national average of less than 50% of those who taught earth science courses this past year being certified to teach earth science. Therefore, our members provide any student teachers they may take on with qualified role models and experienced advice.
NESTA does try to assist existing teachers of earth in science to forge links between their classrooms and the geoscience departments of accessible colleges and universities. We also assist teachers in forging links with professional institutions and government agencies that can provide resources, knowledge, and training in the geosciences. Our officers and members take part in a myriad of conferences, task forces, professional development training, and summer workshops. Our newsletter is used to disseminate information about these opportunities so our members can apply and take advantage of them. The newsletter is also used to report on the information garnered from these sessions, and to provide connections available our members with the institutions that have hosted these sessions, and who are willing to extend their expertise beyond the sessions. Recent examples of opportunities we have publicized are programs and collaborations sponsored by NASA and NOAA, the Jason Project, Earth Scope, Project Atmosphere, the C.O.O.L. Classroom project of Rutgers University, the Research Based Science Education program of the National Optical Astronomers Observatory, the astrophysics programs of Whittier College.
Our members concurred that valuable and successful outreach programs provided them with actual research experience, and with concrete plans and lessons for implementing and communicating what they have learned into their classrooms. Our website URL is http://www.nestanet.org (more info) .