A group of about 15 school division science coordinators from across Virginia just completed a week of professional development activities through VISTA at our George Mason University campus in Northern Virginia. Science coordinators play an important leadership role in determining the science curriculum taught in schools and VISTA helps them hone these leadership skills, create inquiry-based science strategic plans at the division level, develop effective teacher and leadership capacity through science communities of practice, and use data to make program decisions and improve student achievement.
This year, we did so through fun and engaging activities like the one pictured at right (involving a competition to see who could make the best paper airplane).
Here's what the science coordinators had to say at the end of the weeklong professional development academy:
"We really hadn't had much of a science curriculum, but now I can see how powerful it can be in standardizing experiences for students and teachers"
"It's helped me to explain what I'm trying to achieve in my school division."
"I've learned to be a better communicator with my teachers - to explicity teach nature of science and inquiry concepts."
"The academy has helped me communicate with not just principals but superintendents. Before this, we were doing things very piecemeal, without a single focus. But as they say, you need to know where you want to go before you can get there."
"My favorite part has been the networking experience: hearing from others about the tried and true activities that are working in their districts."