One of the most impressive components of working on Science Education at the Crossroads is finding out what happens after any given meeting, even years later. Last spring, I coaxed Angela Johnson to visit my campus and present her work and wisdom on retaining students in scientific fields, something that she’d been stirring around at Crossroads back in the fall. Those discussions continue to resonate and result in real action within my department. In other venues and meetings, long discussions with Andy Gilbert have impacted what I do with preservice and inservice teachers, and now Andy’s idea of creating “wonder journals” is something that I advocate to my own students, and in turn it gets passed on to my students’ students like some bonus inheritance from a long lost uncle we’ve never met but have heard apocryphal tales about. Meeting Sara Heredia in Cleveland made it possible for me to beg an invitation into teacher workshops at the Exploratorium in San Francisco back in March, seeing how ongoing professional learning in dynamic contexts can take shape. And, I got to spend a day at a world renowned science museum as a bonus.
Beyond my own direct experiences, there’s much, much more. Steve Fletcher puts into practice his Left Brain / Right Brain Retreat— I’ve seen the photos of the group working and making dinner together. Brian Williams returned from Costa Rica on a trip with students one day and was putting pieces together for his “Sources” conference the next. Folks put out publications that I can trace back to discussions around a conference table. And, John and Sherry Southerland now sit at the helm of a little journal that specializes in science education research.
There’s so much more. I recognize that I’m leaving out lots of other pieces of projects that others are working on. The point is that I’ve come to realize that the extraordinary is really quite normal for the people with whom I work, and especially for the kind of people who are inclined to show up at Crossroads.
And that’s a nice segue, perhaps. “What about Crossroads, along with the extraordinary work I witness there?” you may be asking. Although this fall is a break for us, we’ve perennially been in the habit of preparing a gathering about this time of year after a spring and summer of soliciting proposals and reviewing papers. In fact, every fall when I see the leaves start to change on the face of a faulting slope above my home and my university, I think back to that Crossroads in Ogden. And as I’m writing out my task lists and other prompts, I’m wondering where the “revise Crossroads” or “finalize catering menu” items are. Fortunately, we’ve found something that takes its place.
We have our own new endeavor and a new potential mode for hosting Science Education at the Crossroads. If you take a look at our Call right now, you’ll see that John and I are positioning ourselves as the conference organizers for a spring meeting that is hosted by David Stroupe and Hosun Kang. There’s a longer story, as there always is, but David and Hosun and others were looking for ways to gather together a small conference of people focused on science teacher preparation, and John and I happen to have a model and structure for a small conference format. We blended those together to create a new possibility: John and I can organize and facilitate a conference that is conceptualized and hosted by others.
So, this news blurb has a couple of cogent points and possibilities to it:
- First, you should take a look at the current call for proposals, especially if you’d like to confer with thoughtful others around the topic of science teacher preparation programs, reforms, and other associated ambitions. Note that this spring timing and placement is exactly in between NARST and AERA in San Antonio, so it’s likely that you can get two (or three!) conferences in on a single flight. We’re confident that one of those conferences will be especially useful.
- Second, John and I think that there may be a lot of room to build on this model. As we expand our own ideas of what Crossroads is for, what makes it work, and how to continue to move forward even after 10 years, we can imagine that there may be others who may want to do the same things that David and Hosun are doing. John and I have figured out the logistics and the philosophy of the conference, and you may be able to put that to your advantage at some point in the future. And, there are many other possible variations on this theme. Let us know if this intrigues you, and we’ll let you know how this first variation on the theme goes in San Antonio.
We’re looking forward to what’s to come, both this spring and beyond; and we hope that you’ll all continue to be a part of it as well as invite others to the table.