2014 International SPI: Part 1
After graduating from Duke University cum laude in May 2014, Cathy Wang took a summer internship with the SSEC's Professional Services Division. During her time at Duke, Cathy became interested in the pedagogy behind STEM education In K-8 classrooms while volunteering at Durham Public Schools with the American Red Cross. What follows is the first installment in a blog series detailing Cathy's experiences at the 2014 International K-12 Science Education Institute for Leadership Development and Strategic Planning (SPI).
As the summer heat fizzles off and we begin to pine for autumn, the Smithsonian Science Education Center's (SSEC) Professional Services division has been hard at work to host their final event of the summer: the 2014 International K-12 Science Education Institute for Leadership Development and Strategic Planning (visit our website for more information).
It only seems appropriate that the summer programming conclude with the flagship strategic planning institute - a long-standing event that the SSEC hosts to aid K-12 science educators and their partners in developing strategic plans and bringing about systemic change to uphold the highest standards in professional development and best practices in education.
This week-long event began on a sunny and breezy Friday morning at the Westin in Alexandria, VA with a two-day faculty planning meeting designed to hash out the finer details of hosting an event for 30+ educators, supervisors, and community members. During this time, old and new faculty members got a chance to evaluate each person's respective expertise and assess the team's profile as a whole.
It was clear from the get-go that this group plays host to a variety of experience and backgrounds in science education and professional development. In fact, studies have shown that effectively developing a sustainable science program and practice in the classroom relies heavily on having people of different levels (from teachers to school board members) and diverse sectors (from educators to coporate stakeholders) (Corcoran & Lawrence, 2003; Fullan, 2010). With that being said, the week ahead is chock-full of seminars from experts, workshops addressing curriculum, concurrent sessions in professional development, workforce site visits, and strategic planning guidance from the faculty and SSEC staff.
Sunday: A Shared Vision of Effective Science Learning & Teaching
As teams from across the country (Indiana, Michigan, and North Carolina) assembled for this year's International Strategic Planning Institute (SPI), participants from four different school districts each focused on synthesizing a vision for effective science education in their schools. Simon Sinek's TED talk immediately comes to mind. "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it," Sinek emphasizes repeatedly throughout his talk. He talks about what he calls the golden circle.
According to Sinek, most people and companies operate from the outside-in, but inspiring action and creating a remarkable product or idea campaign requires thinking from the inside-out. Our participants worked from the inside-out, attempting to answer some of the questions falling under WHY that Sinek poses: What is your purpose? What is your cause? What is your belief? Why does your organization exist and why should anyone care?
After each district created a small poster to delineate their shared vision, all participants went on a "Wisdom Walk" in which they were able to read and post comments (or questions) about the visions created by their peers. What ensued was a wonderful discussion regarding (1) the similarities and differences between the visions and (2) how a team could use the lessons they learned from other districts to enhance and hone their own vision.
- Corcoran, T., & Lawrence, N. (2003). Changing District Culture and Capacity: The impact of the Merck Institute for Science Education Partnership. CPRE Research Report Series, November: RR-054.
- Fullan, M. (2010). The Awesome Power of the Principal. National Association of Elementary School Principals, March/April: 10-16.