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Case – Professional Engagement


Practice Described
It is early August, 8:30am. At the Methodist Ladies' College a long queue of young scientists, from all across Victoria, are braving the cold in anticipation to impress the judges with their scientific models and inventions. Calm before the storm – the judging day of the 64th annual Science Talent Search competition has finally arrived – I am observing, going over the extensive assessment rubrics for the very last time before the judging begins. I am excited and a little nervous; it’s been a year since I have done this for the first time. This year’s theme: ‘Science of Light’ – I can’t wait to see what the children have been busy inventing and building in their spare time.

Soon, the large open-space classroom transforms to what resembles a bustling marketplace – 40-odd Science Talent Search judges are patiently listening to excited students showcasing and explaining the finest of science models and inventions. After five hours of judging my heart was filled with joy – I have in some way contributed to the empowerment of scientific thinking, and hope – a new generation of creative and innovative thinkers is here to make the world a better place. 

Practice Explained
Since 2014, I have been fortunate to be a part of a team of dedicated science teachers who annually volunteer their time to facilitate the Science Talent Search Competition that attracts thousands of students from across the state. Run by the Science Teachers Association Victoria (STAV), the program, one of the longest running of its type in the world, has been successfully empowering young scientists since 1952.

In 2014, on the invitation of Anne-Marie Williams who was the Head of Science at MLC at the time, I volunteered as an STS Models and Inventions section registrations facilitator and judge. Throughout 2015, I continued my involvement on monthly basis as a committee member and as a Junior Experimental Research section coordinator assistant. However, my favourite of all is being a judge (I wouldn't miss it for the world) – meeting these young scientists, their creative and curious minds, full of drive and enthusiasm, with knowledge and understanding way beyond their years, warms my heart; inspires and motivates me to be the best science teacher I can possibly be.

Practice Theorised
As an aspiring science teacher I was impressed by the program, aim of which is to stimulate an ongoing in the study of science by encouraging independent self motivated project work, giving students opportunities to communicate their achievements and be accorded recognition of effort and achievement in a scientific enterprise (STAV 2015). The program promotes direct involvement of the student in the processes of science and its communication and gives the public an opportunity to see the quality of work being achieved in science, by both primary and secondary students. Many scholars advocate (and I can confirm this through my own experiences) that personal expression of interest and concern through independently executed, open project work where students are encouraged to take ownership and pride in what they do in an essential ingredient for improved intrinsic motivation and in this case also for the appreciation and understanding of science.

Practice Changed
I believe encouraging students to develop a broader understanding and application of science and technology is fundamental to the development of critical thinking and problem solving as well as sound social and personal judgement. I feel honoured to be a part of this program and I hope to continue my involvement with STAV for years to come. To me, this is very important work, as STS is developing in students skills and attitudes which will contribute to the wellbeing and development of the wider community in which they will live and work.

Once I step into a science classroom of my own I will not only widely advocate the importance of my students’ involvement in the STS program to the school leadership team and parents but most of all will endeavour to facilitate a classroom environment where my students will receive the encouragement, guidance and support they need to participate in STS and succeed. I also feel that my involvement in STS has enabled me to be an active participant in collaborative teaching practices that extend beyond the immediate school environment, network with like-minded teaching professionals and contribute to the cultivation of science and technology within the wider community; furthermore, developed my questioning, assessment and feedback skills as well as broadened my personal scientific knowledge and understanding and hence its application and delivery in the classroom.

 

I believe this case demonstrates my intentions to engage in professional learning as well as being an active participant in professional teaching networks and broader communities. The following VIT standards support my case:

5.1 Assess student learning: develop, select and use informal and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative assessment strategies to assess student learning.

5.2 Provide feedback to students on their learning: provide timely, effective and appropriate feedback to students about their achievement relative to their learning goals.

6.2 Engage in professional learning and improve practice: Participate in learning to update knowledge and practice, targeted to professional needs and school and/or system priorities.

6.3 Engage with colleagues and improve practice: contribute to collegial discussions and apply constructive feedback from colleagues to improve professional knowledge and practice.

7.2 Comply with legislative, administrative and organisational requirements: Understand the implications of and comply with relevant legislative, administrative and organisational and professional requirements, policies and processes.

7.4 Engage with professional teaching networks and broader communities: Participate in professional and community networks and forums to broaden knowledge and improve practice.

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