From the President.
Is teaching a profession? According to Microsoft Word, a profession is "an occupation that requires extensive education or specialized training." My copy of Webster's Dictionary (Copyright 1972) elaborates with "a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation." I think the latter better defines biology educators today. The word "calling" is a little old-fashioned. However, for those of us who look forward to our work and cannot think of any other occupation we would prefer, it is indeed a "calling." The second part of the definition is my focus in this letter to you. The "often long and intensive academic preparation" continues throughout our careers.
Biology knowledge is expanding at such a rapid rate that discoveries make the daily news and our students ask about the science as we are just learning about it. Our professional knowledge is not only focused on the biology content we deliver to our students but also on new teaching/learning strategies, new technologies, and new organisms! How do you keep up with all of these? Are you searching the Web? If so, have you checked out the NABT's Web site (www. nabt.org)? We have some new resources (added in August, 2007) for you. Are you reading journals for both content and pedagogy? Do you look at more than the cover of The American Biology Teacher? Do you have conversations with your colleagues about successful strategies? Do you seek out other science professionals to help you with content and strategies? Contacting other biology professionals outside your local campus can be difficult and time consuming. My suggestion to help you boost your knowledge and renew your enthusiasm for your profession is to consider attending the NABT Professional Development Conference.
What is the NABT Professional Development Conference? It is a gathering of professionals in which your academic knowledge is updated through attendance at lectures presented by leading scientists. I am very excited about our General Session speakers for 2007. I will name just a few for you. Dr. Sean Carroll from the University of Wisconsin-Madison is the author of three books on evolution: The Making of the Fittest, Endless Forms Most Beautiful, and From DNA to Diversity. This is a chance to learn from a scientist who has been described by Michael Ruse as "There is no one with whom Charles Darwin would rather spend an evening than Sean Carroll." Of course no one needs an introduction to Dr. Francis Collins, the current Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. Duke University faculty will be speaking: Dr. Erich Jarvis from the Department of Neurobiology and Dr. Robert Jackson from the Department of Biology whose research interests include physiological and ecosystem ecology. Addressing pedagogical topics will be Dr. Stephen Nowicki, who has authored the McDougal Little Biology textbook, speaking about ideas for engaging your students in biology. Dr. William McComas from the University of Arkansas will present the 2007 Kendall Hunt Lecture in Biology Education titled "Applying the History and Philosophy of Science To Address the Problems of Evolution Education."
In addition to the General Sessions, there are two focused symposia. The Two-Year College and Four-Year College Sections of NABT have collaborated to produce a symposium on stem cells that will feature sessions addressing both current biology content and the instructional strategies to deliver this content. AIBS, in conjunction with NESCent, has organized a symposium focused on evolution with the current research to provide teachers the knowledge base to improve instruction.
I cannot even begin to describe the many individual sessions developed by biology educators from all levels. These are the sessions that invigorate me through meeting fellow professionals excited by learning how others do what they do on a daily basis in new ways. Our workshops also involve you in learning about new techniques and resources. Check out the list!
In between the sessions, visit the Exhibit Hall. We have more exhibitors than we have had in the last few years. The exhibitors are there to answer your questions about technologies, materials, books, and curricula. This is where I find the key people to contact for my specific needs. My conversations with exhibitors have helped me find people in my geographic area who are using some of the same equipment. Knowing you can contact someone close is a comfort to me. The individual sessions, workshops and exhibitors provide opportunities for networking.
Of course, no professional conference would be complete without field trips to local biological sites of interest. We have filled two sessions to the CDC as I write this in column in August. You need to register for any of the field trips as soon as possible. All of these activities in the NABT Professional Development Conference are designed to help you continue to learn as a professional biology educator.
We are grateful to our sponsors who provide financial support for many of our social events. These informal venues also provide additional time for increasing your contacts with other professional biology educators. This year, our banquet is on Friday night, a change from previous years. Our guest speaker is Barb Bancroft. Many of our colleagues have told me she is an entertaining AND informative speaker. In the past, we have scheduled Barb Bancroft against other sessions and committee meetings. So this time there is no competing session. I hope I will see you at the banquet because it is a good time for all the Conference participants to come together and share good company--with no pressure to get to the next session. Come, relax, have fun.
As I close this letter, I personally invite you to attend the NABT National Conference in Atlanta, November 28-December 1, 2007.
See you in Atlanta!!
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|Publication:||The American Biology Teacher|
|Date:||Oct 1, 2007|
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