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9 August, 2001

On Friday, we worked on a mentoring plan. The mentoring plan is a way to extend the TEA program, by involving our colleagues in long term efforts to use our experience in their classrooms. We talked a lot about how to work with our fellow teachers in a collaborative model. All the TEA teachers had opportunities to practice, and we heard from each teacher about the opportunities and challenges their parcticular school provided. Here's my draft mentoring plan : ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As part of the TEA (Teachers Experiencing Antarctica), I am required to develop a mentoring plan. The planís broad goal is to improve how science is taught, using polar science and the individual TEA teacherís travel and research as a springboard.

As conceived by the TEA program, mentoring is a long term process in which teachers act as colleagues to broaden and deepen their effectiveness as science teachers. The mentoring group involves the lead TEA teacher, and can include new teachers, experienced teachers, cross-curricular groups, or cross-age groups. Rather than a top-down model, where the lead TEA teacher delivers information and resources to the other teachers, the mentoring model proposes that all members of the group parcticipate in personal and group goal setting over a long period of time. Then, group members work in concert to support one anotherís efforts to meet their goals. The National Science Foundation (NSF), which underwrites the TEA program, requires a performance benchmark to demonstrate the mentoring process has taken place. The TEA teacher must document 140 hours of collaborative group work with a group of 3 teacher colleagues over 3 years. While this requirement seems focused on the hours rather than any outcomes, itís clear that the actual process and outcomes are really more important that the hours themselves. In 140 hours, team building, goal setting, curriculum building, and evaluation should move the polar science into the classroom. This movement is in the context of student-centered activities promoting inquiry.

In thinking about an appropriate mentoring plan for Seattle Academy, Iím hopeful that my fellow science teachers might embrace the TEA program and be interested in forging connections into their own curriculum. We already have a TEA associate on staff who has written a book about the Shackleton expedition !

There are ample opportunities for developing pieces that fit into each of our classes: Human Biology, Zoology, Chemistry, and Physical Science. I suspect that there may be some cross-curricular interest as well, but I havenít met most of these teachers, so itís tough to gauge. In the best case scenario, weíre able to build a team within the school which can create movement and events within the entire school community.

Alternatively, I can develop a mentoring group within our growing network of WALTA teachers. WALTA (Washington Area Large-scale Time-coincidence Array) is a cosmic ray detector network that is currently under construction. It will be largely built by high school students and teachers, and weíve already developed a group of local physics teachers who are building curriculum in high energy parcticle physics. These teachers are highly motivated, and will be parcticularly interested in my TEA experience if I am selected to work on one of the astrophysics projects at the South Pole. At Amundsen-Scott station, there are scintillator detectors exactly like the ones we built in our WALTA workshop last week. So there are strong links in my association with both projects, and thereís a pressing and immediate need to develop methods to bring this kind of high energy physics curriculum into the classroom.


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