History of TOTOS

Below is a report Howard Waterman (Spokane) wrote for the Washington Science Teachers Association (WSTA) Journal in 1999. Howard encouraged me to find a way to bring together science methods educators from each institution in Washington State with responsibility for teacher preparation. With funds from the WSU Science Mathematics Engineering Education Center (SMEEC) we were able to bring representatives from eleven teacher preparation program to Pullman for the two day meeting. Originally we called the meeting the Science Education Forum, renamed Teachers of Teachers of Science (TOTOS) at this first meeting. TOTOS has met every year since 1999, with several additional meetings associated with various science education conferences. Our current e-mail list contains the names of nearly 100 science educators in Washington State representing every teacher preparation program in the state. TOTOS representatives now serve on a variety of state committees as well as on the WSTA Board.

In 2008 and 2009 the spring meeting of TOTOS was funded in part or whole by regional and national grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Other organizations that have supported TOTOS either financially or in other ways include: Washington State University, Boeing, National Girls Collaborative Project, Association for Science Teacher Education, Facing the Future, Association of Washington School Principals, WSU's Center for Environmental Research Education and Outreach, 4-H (WSU Extension), IslandWood, Washington State LASER, Project Learning Tree, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Environmental Education Association of Washington, Pacific Education Institute, Children and Nature Network, Washington Forest Protection Association, Washington Science Teachers Association, and Woodland Park Zoo.

Starting in the spring of 2010, TOTOS meetings will be hosted by Central Washington State University. The organization will be formally housed at CWU.

Report by Howard Waterman to WSTA

On May 20 1999, a gathering of the state institutions with responsibility for training preservice science teachers met to discuss the state of preservice education. The forum was sponsored by WSU’s Science Mathematics Engineering Education Center (SMEEC) directed by Dr John “Skip” Paznokas, Chair Program in Biology. Institutions represented were:

The meeting was a forum designed to open communications among the teacher preservice institutions with regard to endorsement programs and scope and content of the preservice methods classes.

Friday morning David Kennedy, OSPI, outlined the conditions in which teacher preservice must perform. Of special interest was concern over the state of the state’s in-service programs. Mr. Kennedy discussed the state’s authority to implement state-wide standards and the current assessment pilot WASL tests. The future of teacher training and the need to provide more directed to implementation of the standards both for students and teachers. Mr. Kennedy outlined optimism in implementing a standards based curriculum, but had reservations with regards to any proactive state-wide program of preservice or in-service directed toward implementation of the standards.

Also on Friday, Jo Sanders, Washington Research Institute, Seattle, presented background on the need for increased awareness of gender equity issues in higher education institutions. Dr. Sanders provided an invitation to preservice institutions to participate in a state-wide program for inclusion of gender equity issues in institutional programs. This program is in response to an NSF grant as a potential model and will have a kick-off program in July when the program will be revealed.

Forum participants shared their course programs for meeting the current endorsement requirements and indicated where modifications will be implemented. They also shared their method class syllabi. All participants found something to value in the programs of others. Of particular interest was the degree of similarity found among the science methods classes. Participants examined those common elements and identified six components all felt were common and necessary: equity, including gender, ethnic, cultural and developmental; understanding and using inquiry, assessment, particularly authentic and alternative; familiarity with the state EALRs; experience developing lesson and unit plans; identifying instructional resources, professional and community; and understanding process skills and scientific methods of investigation. Although these represented a consensus of the top six components, they were selected from a field of twenty-seven important components. Participants identified two components to begin sharing information in the hope of improving their coverage of material: gender equity and assessment strategies.

The group, choosing to be identified as TOTOS, will meet again at a Friday strand at the October Washington Science Teachers Conference to continue collegial sharing of their materials for gender equity and assessment. The Friday strand session will be moderated by Andrea Freed, WWU, and will be open to all teachers of teachers of science. Valerie Dickinson, WSU Pasco, will arrange a list serve to promote future sharing of triumphs and challenges among the participants. All TOTOS are welcome to participate in the list serve by contacting Valerie at WSU Pasco.

Participants also shared the contact hours available to methods classes for elementary and secondary. The contact time varied from 35-80 hours at secondary to 30-60 hours in elementary. The implication is clear. Some preservice teachers get a greater exposure to science teaching methods than others. Many institutions connect their methods classes to a practicum experience, though not all do. From a list of eleven problem areas associated with teaching methods classes, contact time surfaced by far as the greatest issue. Armed with this specific information, participants thought they might be able to make a case with their department chairs or education deans to examine the course needs and provide preservice students with more time. As a first effort to provide some cohesiveness in preservice science education, this forum was a valuable first step. Subjecting their syllabi to peer review placed participants in a vulnerable position, but everyone felt the experience was valuable and helpful. Participants may or may not make changes based on what was learned during the forum, but many felt they would use colleague ideas to make Improvements. That’s what true professional development is all about.

A special thanks is due to Dr. Paznokas for funding the forum from his SMEEC program, Mr. David Kennedy for making the time to share his perspective from OSPI and Dr. Jo Sanders for being willing to share her program with the group.

All participants were confidant this definitely ought to be the First Annual Forum as much more sharing would be a valuable experience for all.

TOTOS 2004 meeting in Pullman:
Howard Waterman was sitting on the left side in the front in the white long-sleeved shirt.