Ensuring that each school maintains a high-quality science program requires stepping back a bit to assess the bigger picture. Where does science fit in the landscape of each school, your district, your community? Is science teaching and learning a priority? Do you have adequate resources to sustain a robust science program?
Vision: Start by working with your staff and community to craft a vision for what you want your science program to achieve. The vision should be both aspirational and realistic. What would it look like to achieve the goals you have for science? If your system has a vision for science, consider reviewing and updating it. Areas to focus on might include leadership, communication, professional learning, priorities, access and equity, instructional improvements, challenges, and of course, successes. Identify priorities that will help you move towards building capacity in each of the focus areas for the upcoming year and beyond. Finally, create a concrete action plan that addresses each science priority. Identify accompanying details, including who is responsible, persons involved, timeline, and resources.
Many of the other tools in the Administrators’ Toolbox will help you shape the vision, such as Supporting Teachers with Time (#4) and Supporting Teachers with Access and Equity (#6), as well as others.
Communication:Once you have a clear vision for what you want your science program to be, the next step is to be sure to communicate that vision to all stakeholders. Thinking about stakeholders can help to anticipate barriers and empower them to contribute or participate in the process. Change can be difficult, but transparency builds trust.
Teachers need to establish a productive classroom culture that fosters a growth mindset. Class norms, discussion starters, and word walls should be present in each class. (Processes and structures for supporting collaboration and facilitating productive discussions are described in the Investigations Guide.) Encourage students and teachers to show the fruits of their scientific endeavors on bulletin boards, class newsletters, school websites, etc. See the Making Community Connections (Tool #9) for additional ideas.
Support:Consider how parents can support your science program. Do you have local businesses that can support your science program and provide resources? Are there any local museums with whom to partner? Are there any grants you can apply for? What other resources can you tap into, especially when integrating English Language Arts, English language development, and environmental literacy?