I didn’t get a chance to post on Saturday all the conversations with educators in Philadelphia, so I’m catching up a bit now.
“I had my 37th first day of school in August,” says Pamela O’Halloran, a middle school science teacher from Tulsa, Oklahoma. O’Halloran says she been attending NSTA conferences “for years and years and years,” explaining, “It still reinforces what I’m doing, some of things I’m doing is the right thing, all the inquiry. But it also gives you a little spark.”
She wanted to share the NSTA experience with new teachers at her school; this year she is accompanied by three early-career teachers, including Natalie Smith”
“I teach eighth grade physical science. This is my first year teaching,” says Smith. “[O’Halloran] thought it would be a good idea for us to come and get some ideas and get some hands-on experience. You know, just kind of see what it’s all like and talk to some other people that are in the profession as well.
“See all of the resources. Get some ideas about equipment we might be able to purchase, or something, you know, that we can make,” Smith continues. “A lot of times, they just say, ‘You can go down to the hardware store. You can go to your local grocery store and you can pick up these ingredients or these chemicals or whatever.’ You can do something in the classroom with a very small budget if you need to. I’ve gotten a lot of good ideas so far.”
I also spoke with Sandy Krutchik of Flannigan High School in Pembroke Pines, Florida. She teaches anatomy and physiology primarily to juniors and seniors. She was in the exhibit hall with some colleagues with a specific goal in mind. “We were looking for information on smart board technology…we were looking for ideas how to use [the boards] in the classroom,” she says. “We some ideas on how to incorporate ideas into the classroom.”
Teneka Coffey, who teaches at Kipp Harmony Academy, a public charter school in Baltimore, Maryland, was attending her first NSTA conference. “I teach science to kindergartners. I came here because this is my first year teaching science,” she explains. “It just sounded like an exciting opportunity to connect with other science teachers and go to a lot of valuable workshops. My principal was supporting it and paid for the trip, so I’m here.”
She says her conference attendance will have an immediate effect on her classroom. “I went to several workshops yesterday. I received a lot of good materials, good ideas that I see I’m going to use, even on Monday with the unit that we were working on. One of those workshops I went to yesterday had a great activity that would go along with what we’re doing right now in the classroom,” Coffey notes. “It’s been very valuable. I’ve really enjoyed the exhibits and shopping and finding cool science stuff that I don’t find generally in the stores and around my area.”