Nuts and Bolts

Browse Nuts and Bolts: Creating the planning team | Scheduling the workshop | Developing the workshop agenda | Teacher incentives | Advertising the workshop | Financial considerations

Creating the planning team

An existing education (outreach) committee may plan the workshop, or it may be planned by an ad-hoc committee. Perhaps the most important attitudes your team members can bring to the table are enthusiasm for the workshop and a willingness to think beyond the lecture style of teaching.

We strongly recommend that the planning team include at least one person with pre-college teaching experience. (If that teacher is local to the workshop site and a recognized Master Teacher, even better.) Partnerships with teachers often prove to be some of the most rewarding and important outcomes of organizing these workshops. If members of your education/outreach committee do not have local contacts within the pre-college education community, check with other members. Local school district offices, university education faculty, and/or professional education organizations (for example, state science teachers' associations, National Association of Biology Teachers [NABT], National Association of Geoscience Teachers [NAGT], National Earth Science Teachers Association [NESTA], or National Science Teachers Association [NSTA]) may also be able to help you identify teachers eager to become planning team members or presenters at the workshop. These people/groups will also be a big help when you are advertising the workshop.


Scheduling the workshop

Choosing the day: The choice of day(s) on which the workshop will be held will affect the level of attendance. Consider carefully whether to choose a weekday or a Saturday. Some districts do not pay for substitutes for teachers to attend a weekday workshop. But some teachers are reluctant or unable to give up a Saturday. Contacting the school districts in the workshop city can provide your planning team with important information on policies regarding release time.

Length of the workshop: We recommend a daylong workshop format, beginning at 8:00-8:30 a.m. and ending at 4:30 or 5:00 p.m.—allowing an hour for lunch and incorporating morning and afternoon coffee breaks.

Number of participants: We recommend 25-30 teachers as a reasonable number. You can easily work with a larger number 60-80, if you have sufficient space to break into groups for the activities.

Developing the workshop agenda

See this link for detailed information on the content of the workshop itself.


Teacher incentives

Teachers love "freebies." Budgets for classroom materials are notoriously low in most school districts, and any free items you can supply will create an incentive for teachers to attend your workshop. These freebies need not be expensive or elaborate: handouts detailing the activities you present during the workshop, content-rich pamphlets or booklets produced and donated by your society, a baggie of sediment containing microfossils and an identification key—all are greatly appreciated by teachers.

Teachers are often looking for workshops to satisfy professional development requirements in their district. Contact local education offices for information on what criteria your workshop must meet to satisfy such requirements. At the very least, it is a nice gesture to provide certificates of completion to all attendees, and to volunteer to send a letter of recognition to an administrator or other person designated by each attendee and presenter.


Advertising the workshop

How can you reach teachers? They probably don't belong to your professional society. For a one-day event, a local contact will be invaluable.
  1. Contact one of the local districts and ask for either the science supervisor or the science curriculum specialist. Explain what you are doing and ask them the most effective way to get the word out to local teachers. They may have electronic listserves, or the means to distribute fliers, or they may be able to add the event to their calendars.
  2. Check within your membership for locals. They may have children within the school district or know teachers in the area.
  3. In addition, here are some other sources for reaching the teachers:
    • local college/university faculty in science and education departments
    • local museums and science centers
    • your association web site


Financial considerations

We recommend that every attempt be made to keep down the cost to teachers. However, your organization will probably need to consider at least some of the following:
  • Your association may be charged for rooms, audiovisual equipment, set-up, water service, etc.
  • Try to avoid having to charge meeting registration fees for teacher participants. If necessary, negotiate a reduced fee for teachers.
  • If you decide to provide lunch or coffee and snacks, you will also have to decide whether your society can/will pick up the tab for the food or whether you will need to charge participants for their meal/snacks.
  • There will be some costs associated with copying handouts, overheads, etc.


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