ACS Science Coaches—Roles & Responsibilities
The ACS Science Coaches program is different from other ACS outreach programs because it is a long-term commitment to one teacher. ACS Science Coaches share their expertise and enthusiasm for science with an elementary, middle, or high school teacher over the course of one school year. Together, the chemist and teacher decide specifically what the chemist will do to meet both the needs of the teacher and the interests of the chemist.
Review the following checklist to help you decide whether your plans can align with the expectations of the ACS Science Coaches program.
Stay for at least one class period during each visit
Select a teacher you would like to assist. Then schedule a short meeting before or after school to offer your assistance. Provide concrete examples of things you might like to do to help the teacher begin to imagine the possibilities. Be sure to ask the teacher what she or he could use help with. Once you both have formulated a basic plan, it is time to submit a very short proposal to ACS.
Help one teacher at one school
Many chemists enjoy doing demonstration shows at multiple schools, and some bring several teachers into their labs to enhance their knowledge of chemistry. While these are wonderful forms of outreach, they are different from offering to help a teacher’s classroom needs.
Consider helping one teacher plan lessons which tie into the established curriculum. You may assist a teacher with a special project, establish a new ACS High School ChemClub at the school, or mentor a group of students training for a science competition. If serving as a science coach seems right to you, make a preliminary plan with a teacher and submit a proposal.
Make at least six visits to one school throughout the academic year
Working with the same teacher and the same group of students gives your visits greater impact. You will build a rapport with the teacher and students, and the students will look forward to seeing you. It will be as though you are their scientist. You will also be able to see student growth in science comprehension.
Stay for one class period during each visit
Class periods are typically about 45 minutes to an hour long. Many science coaches say that their visits are typically longer, lasting 2 or 3 class periods. Several coaches spend the entire day assisting a teacher and presenting to students; however, this is not expected! If the teacher works with more than one group of students, which is typically the case at the middle and high school levels, be sure s/he realizes that you will not be able to work with all of the students. Be clear about what your schedule allows. The ACS Science Coaches program expects you to spend just one hour at the school during each of your 6 visits.
Role of a Science Coach
Be comfortable with a supporting role
The teacher remains the primary authority figure in the classroom during your visits. As a chemist, you will be the classroom authority on science, but as a guest, you will take a supporting role in this partnership. Teachers may be sensitive about having another adult in the class, so in your early communications with the teacher, be clear that you intend to help. Your goal is to help the teacher meet curriculim goals.
Respect the teacher’s expertise
Teachers who jump at the opportunity to partner with a chemist typically have experience teaching and they enjoy teaching science. Some are brand new teachers looking for any help they can get. Regardless of experience, teachers know their students and they are trained in strategies to effectively deliver the content to them. Science coaches typically develop a deep respect for their partner teacher when they see how the teacher interacts with students, delivers instructions, explains the content, and manages groups of students.
Share your expertise
Most chemists who choose to serve as a science coach already have experience working with teachers and students, but it isn’t necessary. What is important is that you are able to help teachers by sharing your time, content knowledge, and experience as a scientist. When appropriate, relate concepts being taught to real-world applications. Share what it was that inspired you to be a scientist. Science courses are hard work, so think about what kept you going as a student and what motivates you today. Your knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm for science are the valuable piece that only you can share with the teacher and students.
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