Value of TOTOS

“TOTOS? What’s that?” I asked myself when I received an invitation to join after floundering my way through my first science methods class as a 7th grades science teacher and adjunct for Heritage University. Teachers of Teachers of Science. Well, I teach a methods class in science… Let me tell you I tip-toed into that first TOTOS meeting, sat in the back and said very little, but by the end of the first conference I realized, TOTOS- hey, that’s everyone in the room and me, too. We are all doing the same job but coming at the job from many difference perspectives and backgrounds.

TOTOS has been a wonderful source for ideas, mentoring, and experiences in best practices for science teaching. While many of the full time university faculty do complex projects, research, and publish articles, they have time to do this because it is their full time job. They naturally have more time to devote to developing and teaching their science methods courses. They are very willing to share their ideas and methods. I taught full time and added my methods class into my weekends, however, I worked with middle school students every day and tried out new ideas on them before taking the idea to my university students. The full time and adjunct folks each bring different perspectives to the table. It is a win-win situation.

When TOTOS received the EPA grant and emphasized Environmental Education and Sustainability, I was thrilled. This area of science is a passion of mine and the grant enabled me to do even more in this area with my students.

Now that I have retired from middle school teaching, I volunteer at a wildlife refuge. I get to try many new ideas and lessons with visiting students which I have brought back from TOTOS workshops. Sometimes my university students are able to teach children at the refuge when our schedules match. My university students also come to the refuge for a one-day emersion in Environmental Education through the Project Learning Tree curriculum and other activities.

Over the years I have looked forward to the new trainings, sharing of ideas, and networking that takes place at the TOTOS meetings. TOTOS is a valuable resource for me and my teaching.

Value of TOTOS from the perspective of an adjunct faculty member and elementary classroom teacher