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APPENDIX G An NSTA Position Statement on Science Teacher Professionalism PREAMBLE The teacher is the key to making science teaching a profession and to provid- ing quality science education. For American society to accept science teachers as professionals, science teaching needs to conform to society's professional prac- tice model. Society's professional practice model is knowledge based and content ori- ented. It is a pact between society and members of an occupation whose work "requires discretion and judgment in meeting the unique needs of clients . . . (A profession organizes itself) to guarantee the competence of its members in ex- change for the privilege of controlling its own work structure and standards of practice. "The profession assumes collective responsibility for defining, commu- nicating, and enforcing professional standards of practice and ethics. It develops and maintains a process which ensures both the research and craft knowledge accumulated in the field are communicated and used effectively by all its mem- bers. That knowledge is also used to prepare, induct, certify, select, and evaluate new members. Further, the profession ensures continuous generation of new knowledge. Differences in knowledge levels, expertise, responsibility, and pro- ductivity result in differentiated roles, status, and compensation. Science teaching requires an individual to exercise discretion and judgment in meeting the needs of students. Thus it is fitting for science teachers) to assume the rights and responsibilities of professionals in our society. To do so, the iScience teachers herein are defined as in the NSTA Visions paper which includes underrepresented groups: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, the disabled, and women. 217
218 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF SCIENCE TEACHERS educational enterprise in the United States must eliminate the existing hierarchy. The roles of all participants in the enterprise must change. Such initiatives are emerging throughout the country and are supported by research publications and position papers from professional societies. This position statement describes changes in structure and expectations which must occur to enable a science teacher to assume the role of a professional within society's professional practice model. POSITION STATEMENT NSTA supports the restructuring of schooling in the United States so that science teaching can become consistent with the professional practice model. Teachers must collectively (1) establish and continually revise standards for the profession and (2) enable individuals to make choices exercising their own discretion and judgment in their professional work within the parameters of the collective standards. DECISIONS Since making decisions collectively is critical to establishing science teach- ing as a profession, interaction among teachers and the time to interact are essen- tial. Sharing, mutual commitment, and caring about community must be facili- tated. This means establishing new priorities for how teachers allocate their work time so they can collaborate with each other and other stakeholders to make policies and regulations relating to science teaching. Teachers' success is evalu- ated in terms of these new priorities. Decisions cover the entire range of school activities that impinge on science teaching. Some examples are monitoring science education programs and prac- tice; identifying changes needed in schools so the needs of the local school population and the specific community in which students live are met; relating disciplines, selecting curricula, materials, instructional approaches, and assess- ment procedures; allocating resources; hiring new teachers and influencing their preparation, induction, certification, selection and evaluation; and more. TIME The multifaceted nature of professional science teachers' responsibilities requires their work time be divided between interaction with students and interac- tion with parents, peers, administrators, scientists and other professionals, and other community members including people from business and industry. Com- munity expectations and school structures (e.g., schedules, assignments) must be flexible enough to allow teachers to exercise discretion and judgment in meeting their obligations to the students and the adults with whom they interact.
AN NSTA POSITION STATEMENT 219 SUPPORT Teachers must have both technical and human support in order to make time available for the necessary interactions and to facilitate communication. Techni- cal support includes ready access to a telephone, computer, modem, fax, photo copy machines, expertise to make maximum use of current hardware and soft- ware, and personal work space outside the classroom. Human support includes people such as a laboratory assistant, teacher assistant, and secretary to do tasks that do not require the unique expertise of the science teacher.2 PROFESSIONAL GROWTH Exercising discretion and judgment to make effective decisions requires information from many diverse sources about the specifics of each situation and current scientific technology, and pedagogic knowledge, information and skills. Therefore, teachers must continue to grow professionally, and life-long-learning must be supported. Teachers should determine what they need to learn and when they need to learn it. Learning opportunities tailored to the point of need should be available to enhance teachers' decision making and activities. Any behaviors which contribute to professional growth should be supported and rewarded (e.g., being active in professional associations, organizing and attending conferences, participating in bulletin board conferences and networks, taking courses and seminars, reading publications, visiting other classrooms, and informal interac- tions with other professionals). Learning opportunities should also include teach- ers as reflective practitioners who do research on their own experiences and their students' experiences, thus continuing to increase the knowledge base of the ~ . profession. SYMBOLS OF PROFESSIONALS Symbols are used in our society to nurture and build professional images. They identify a person's professional status to others and aid in interaction and communication. For example, students and adults with whom one interacts can recognize the accomplishments and subsequent status of a teacher when teachers frame and display diplomas and certificates of licensing, of participation in study seminars, of appreciation, and awards. The code of ethics displayed on a wall announces the existence of professional standards. Business cards facilitate net 2Laboratory assistants collect, set up, and break down laboratory equipment, run inventories and order materials and equipment, and conduct safety inspections. Teacher assistants perform class- room clerical tasks, acquire teacher selected materials, and follow up on contacts within the commu- nity to set up field trips, guest speakers, funding, etc. Secretaries do paperwork that includes atten- dance reports, book inventories, copying, running computer searches, and making transparencies. Functions such as monitoring a hall, bus, or cafeterias are also assumed by others.
220 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF SCIENCE TEACHERS working. The profession and individual teachers should develop deliberate pub- lic relations initiatives to build a public image supporting science teacher profes 1 slonallsm. RESPONSIBILITY In order to effectively meet the needs of students, science teachers assume responsibility for enabling each learner to reach his/her own potential. This means cultivating the varied capacities of students by empowering them to think with all their senses: responding to their ethnic, cultural, and linguistic differ- ences; focusing on learning in contrast to focusing on the content of the discipline and "covering the material"; and relating science to the whole of what students learn in schools. Professional science teachers facilitate the construction of science concepts for learners. They are decision makers who employ knowledge of science, peda- gogy, and change to fulfill their individual responsibilities. They are continuous learners who stay current in scientific, pedagogic and change literature and are reflective practitioners who generate new knowledge and share knowledge. They assume collective responsibility for the profession, model ethical behavior in keeping with the profession's standards of practice, and are accountable for their actions. SCIENCE TEACHER PROFESSIONALISM NSTA supports the restructuring of schooling necessary to enhance science teacher professionalism so that: · Science teachers collaborate with each other and with stakeholders to make decisions about policies and regulations for science teaching · Science teachers allocate their time among students, parents, peers, ad- ministrators, scientists, and other community members. · Science teachers have both technical and staff support in order to be available for interaction with students and other stakeholders. · Science teachers' professional growth continues throughout their careers. They select learning opportunities that meet their needs. They are reflective and share research findings from both their own and their students' experiences. · Science teachers use society's symbols such as business cards, displaying diplomas, certificates, and awards to reflect professional images. · Science teachers assume responsibility for enabling learners to reach their potential. Science teachers collectively establish and continually revise stan- dards of practice, model ethical behavior, and account for their actions. Adopted by the NSTA Board of Directors in January 1992.