Oregon Pre-Engineering & Applied Science (OPAS) Initiative
Instructional Professional Development(IPD) Subcommittee &
Student Success: Access, Motivation, Retention Subcommittee (SAMR)
Notes for MESA Teacher Focus Group

June 20, 2006

Attendees:  David Coronado (MESA), Susan Duncan (BSD), Misty Scevola (PPS), Kathryn Schwartz (SAO Foundation), Michelle York (PPS), Ken Cone (OPAS/SCC), Jo Oshiro (OUS OPAS Staff), Jeremy
Tucker (OPAS/IA Teacher Intern)

Summary:

Teachers walk away from MESA Professional Development with an notebook of lesson plans that work, are categorized, and aligned to state standards. The cameraderie, collegial bonds and ongoing relationships with peers and mentors are as important to the teachers as to the kids. These peers, near-peers and mentors also effect an increase in contact time for the kids. External funding is crucial to keeping the programs going and removing budget management from the teachers' plates.

Discussion:

Why MESA works for teachers:

  • Susan-MESA is fully supported by building Administration . This includes money, sub time for field trips etc.
  • Susan-focuses on relationships with people (including mentors for teachers)
  • meetings amongst MESA teachers are clear and purposeful.
  • learning objectives are aligned to state standards
  • lessons are truly road-tested, often written by MESA teachers and students
  • lessons are "canned" but also include background information
  • teachers are viewed as the most valuable resource and treated very respectfully by Engineers, MESA trainers, etc.
  • teachers feel like they are part of something bigger and that MESA will be around in the future
  • MESA provides time for teachers to plan, reflect, and network including a 2.5 day summer program with a stipend and Professional Credit
  • MESA provides year to year consistency. Teachers see too many one- or two-year "great new idea" programs that do not last.

Why MESA works for students:

  • culture of "food, fun, and friendship"
  • MESA conveys a real love for the kids and their families
  • near peer mentoring: High School students really enjoy this. PSU engineering students contribute to MESA classroom activity.  This supports the goal of having engineering students and professionals involved with teaching math and science.
  • events make it purposeful for students (provide goals or objectives to their learning)
    • Northwest Science Expo is a major focal point, MESA day is another focal point
  • College Campus visits are very important to the students, bringing college in to their world view
  • Ongoing relationships with visiting engineers, teachers, and increased contact time in general

Why MESA works for schools:

  • Michelle-can be an after-school or in-school program and is becoming more and more integrated into academic schedule. After school or Saturday programs can be difficult for students to attend due to transportation issues/jobs/chores/families (no buses, no students).
  • David-MESA funding is a 50-50 match from school budgets and industry

Why MESA has high teacher participation compared to other types of professional development plans:

  • MESA advisors recruit more MESA advisors
  • MESA includes solid content.
  • Cameraderie with other teachers, colleagues. Ongoing relationships
  • Professional Development can be overwhelming; there's a lot out there and a lot of it is good, but the ongoing support is really important, as is integration with state standards. There are many, many demands on teacher time.
  • Writing NSF and other grant application takes away from teacher planning time.  Some teachers are required to attend long staff meeting and other required subjects, taking away from planning time. MESA meetings are in the evening and "easy."
  • Teachers can use peer pressure to involve less-inspired colleagues to participate in science fairs and other events.
  • Provides both background materials for developing one's own lessons and "canned" lessons.

What is the one important thing that you would like to see addressed state-wide :

  • Misty: Incorporate Engineering into State Standards.
  • Jeremy: Reduce class size. (24 being the upper limit; while increasing contact time is important, it is more effective to reduce class size to control the chaos level than to add 2-3 aids to a class of 40 students.)
  • Michelle: Create a state teaching certification in Engineering
  • Foster business-to-education connections so kids have a more realistic understanding of what engineers do.

Miscellaneous Points of Interest :

  • Misty Scevola is a PPS MESA advisor and science teacher working with at risk kids.  She uses the MATE program and MESA to attract kids to science.  MATE is an advanced robotics tech competition. . http://www.marinetech.org/   Misty also uses google sketch and West Point Bridge CAD tools for her students. http://sketchup.google.com/product_suf.html 
  • While standards can make a lesson more purposeful, they have too much. The essentials are not identified. It has been useful to Michelle to restate learning objectives in kid language: what will the kids know, what they will learn, how that relates to the standards.
  • Michelle thinks OPAS should be talking to preservice teachers.
  • Beaverton School District is apparently implementing the International Baccalaureate Organization's curriculum for grades 6-10 in Middle School; Susan Duncan took time out from the training conference to join us. She likes the IB programs because there is a common language, it is not limiting, and evaluation is formative (kid-directed) as well as summative.
  • Administrative training for educators includes little general management training.
  • Events such as contests and MESA day give kids' efforts critical context and meaning - the kids need a reason to work. It helps structure curriculum.

For questions or information regarding this webpage, please email Jo Oshiro or call (503) 725.2910.