Be an Early Career STAR: Balancing Service, Teaching, and Research

Intended Audience
This workshop is intended for new/junior science teacher educators who are just beginning their careers/have yet to earn tenure.

Workshop Focus
This workshop will focus on navigating the professoriate and balancing service, teaching, and research responsibilities. This workshop comes in response to feedback from the membership, as well as in the literature regarding the need for mentoring and professional development opportunities to support early career faculty.

Abell and colleagues (2009) noted that while doctoral students’ preparation often emphasizes research, future science teacher educators may have little similar preparation for other duties of faculty such as designing and implementing teacher certification courses or navigating service duties that are expected of tenure-track faculty. Even with preparation, however, the early career years can pose many challenges including developing a pedagogy of teacher education, adjusting to new autonomy, experiences of institution isolation, and pressure to meet expectations for research (Martinez, 2008).

According to Berry and van Driel (2012), little is known about how science teacher educators develop their expertise; however, results of their small exploratory study suggest that science teacher educators’ personal background and individual career paths are influenced by the professional communities they feel most closely associated, and access to research in their field mattered (whether their own or others). Furthermore, the authors emphasize that variations in the development of teacher educators’ expertise is influenced by the “apparent lack of a structure that could help them develop their practice as a community (e.g., the absence of an induction program for teacher educators or planned professional learning)” (2012, p.125) . All of the above suggest that communities such as ASTE have the ability to positively impact the developing expertise of early career faculty among its membership. Indeed, Cochran-Smith (2003, p.7) claimed that “the opportunity to engage in inquiry within a learning community may be a vital part of teachers’ and teacher educators’ ongoing education.”

Specific objectives of the workshop include:
1. Provide successful strategies and advice for pretenure ASTE members that have proven to be effective for others to achieve tenure at one’s institution.
2. Provide practical strategies for early career science teacher educators to tackle common issues and challenges, avoid pitfalls, and maintain balance among research, teaching and service.
3. Help connect early career faculty to each other and the ASTE community.
4. Provide a framework for thinking about how to navigate the pre-tenure years. Or guideline for deciding when to say yes or no to opportunities.

These objectives will be evaluated by a Likert-type survey completed by participants (rating whether they agree the workshop met the objective) as well as the following open-ended items:
● The most valuable part of the workshop was…
● The least valuable part of the workshop was…
● One thing that could improve the workshop in the future could be…
● Something that would help me once I return home from the conference would be…

Presenters include recipients of the ASTE Outstanding Science Teacher Educator Award, which recognizes competency in teaching, development of science teacher education programs, impact and quality of research, and leadership in science education. These recipients represent a diversity of institution types, areas of research interest, geographic locations, gender and race. The presenters include faculty who are the sole science teacher educator at their institution.

Workshop Activities
The workshop will begin with introductions, followed by a series of “Two Minute Tips” (20 minutes). These are brief and engaging presentations in which presenters share their best advice and tips for success with attendees, focusing on a specific issue or challenge. We will create a handout for structured note-taking by participants during the talks. Example topics include:
● Make It Count! Sometimes faculty can feel pulled in directions that stray from their passions and interests in order to achieve tenure. You can do what you love and do what you want– if you can find a way to make it count. Learn how to work within the traditional reward systems of academia to have the career you want– and the tenure you desire.
● Service With A Smile? How much service is enough? How much service is too much? Aligning service, teaching and research interests leads to happiness! Put a smile on your face by identifying and engaging in service related to your teaching and research interests.
● Juggling Research, Teaching and Service. How do you find ways to write grant proposals, gather data, write papers while also teaching a great class? How do you balance demands and build space for teaching and research?
● I’m The Only Science Teacher Educator At My Institution! How do you develop and build a network for your research activities if you are the only science teacher educator at your institution? How can I develop fruitful collaborations at my own institution? How do I develop a shared research agenda with others like myself
● Keep Track of Your Efforts, Then Let It Go. Faculty have to keep many plates spinning in the air, and when it comes time to explain your work in faculty evaluations and tenure portfolios, it feels overwhelming. Learn strategies for organizing your research,teaching, and service ideas, work in progress, and completed work so you don’t have to recreate your activities when you need to report them. This tool is also helpful for planning your academic trajectory.

The second part of the workshop will consist of Round table Discussions, which will provide an opportunity for deeper and more intimate small-group conversations about navigating service, teaching, and research responsibilities. Unlike the Two Minute Tips, these will be more specifically focused on issues and challenges specific to science teacher education. Each round table will be facilitated by two presenters, who can offer different perspectives in response to questions posed by attendees.

Roundtable topics will include:
● Helping non-science education faculty in a mixed department understand and appreciate the work we do. (I’m a science educator in a department of physicists, astronomers, and geologists, but this may be true for science educators among other educators-Ron)
● Supervising field experiences: How to maintain communication of students with supervising teachers. What types of experiences promote science teacher development?
● Balancing research, teaching, and service. What are effective strategies? How can I tactfully say no to service requests? How can I better balance my time? Am I really expected to be highly responsive to my email?
● Getting my research agenda up and running. What is realistic with or without external funding? Where are the best funding sources for my area of interest? How can I leverage support at my institution?
● Finding a mentor and optimizing the relationship: How do I find a mentor that is a good fit for me? What kinds of questions should I be asking?

Participants will rotate to two different round tables during the session, 20 minutes at each round table. After this period, each roundtable facilitator will summarize the discussion to the entire group.

Ongoing Support
The Two Minute Tips from the presenters will be compiled in a column and submitted to the ASTE Newsletter following the conference. Summaries of the roundtable discussion with also be submitted to the ASTE Newsletter.

We will review feedback from the evaluation to identify improvements for a potential future workshop, as well as to identify potential ongoing support ideas that would be most helpful to the participants (see final question). For example, leveraging social media we might follow up with a Twitter Chat, Facebook group, etc. or use email to continue communications among the participants.
We view this workshop as one step toward forming the kind of learning community described by Cochran-Smith (2003). We hope that it will help create a critical mass within ASTE who can pursue more substantial opportunities to provide professional development and mentoring to early career faculty.