#Odysci Profile Day 10: Rosalind Poon
As part of Science Odyssey, we are interviewing a variety of STEM innovators to investigate pathways into STEM and to discuss the future of STEM learning and careers.
Rosalind Poon is the Richmond School District Teacher Consultant for Literacy and Assessment, and is the 2nd Vice President of the BC Science Teachers' Association. Science World has tapped into Rosalind's expertise in many ways throughout her career. She was consulted early in the development of BC Green Games, has participated as a reviewer for high school science resources, and most recently we have gained valuable insight from Rosalind as a mentorship expert on our Teacher Mentorship Advisory Committee as we explore new ways of supporting science teachers around the province.
What sparked your interest and eventual career in education, specifically science and literacy?
In grade 6, Ms. Momeyer, a teacher at my elementary school, let my friend Andrea and I “look after” the kindergarten students during recess and lunch. I loved having the sense of responsibility and being able to interact with the younger students. Since then, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I’m not sure I knew I wanted to be a Science teacher, but I definitely knew that I wanted to have my own classroom!
To be honest, the science and literacy connection was a bit of a fluke. After my first year of teaching, I decided to apply to the Language and Literacy program at UBC. My original motive was to complete the Teacher of English as a Second Language (TESL) certificate to get the qualifications to teach English as a Second Language courses (ESL), since Richmond had such a large ESL population. After my first few courses, I was completely fascinated with the coursework, and so, instead of only completing a TESL certificate, I ended up completing a diploma in Language and Literacy. What I found greatly satisfying about the coursework was that everything I learned for the ESL classroom was directly applicable to the Science and Math classroom. Good teaching for one student is good teaching for all students!
What role does mentorship play in engaging youth in STEM?
Mentorship is the key to building capacity and engaging youth in STEM. Youth need to be connected to authentic people in STEM related fields, so that they get a true sense of (a) what STEM is and (b) STEM related jobs. Mentorship helps to build relationship between youth and people in the field. It allows youth to ask questions and develop their sense of curiosity. I have also noticed that mentorship creates reciprocal learning opportunities. The mentor can learn just as much from a mentee and vice versa.
Did you/do you have a mentor or colleague who supports your work and own learning journey in STEM education?
I am grateful that I have had, and still have many mentors in my life. I’m not sure that there is one specific mentor that has supported my work and learning in STEM education. I think it is the collection of mentors that has helped to be curious and remain a lifelong learner. Each of my mentors has had a role in pushing my boundaries and helping me to be reflective in different areas. For example, one mentor pushed me to think about how literacy and science were related. Not only did he push me out of my science content comfort zone, but he also encouraged me to rethink my assessment and planning practices. Another mentor has supported my facilitation and leadership development, by clearly modelling how to build a culture of trust and understanding. She has also encouraged me to consider “enabling constraints” that force me to think “outside the box.” Although these mentors are not directly related to STEM, what they have instilled is a sense of curiosity and wonder, and this inevitably, with my love of science is why I am interested in STEM!
What did you want to be when you were small? Did you plan your current career path?
From an early age, I knew that I loved to work with children. Babysitting, volunteering at the community centres, “taking care” of the kindergarten students, teaching swimming lessons and piano were all part of the natural progression towards teaching, but I’m not sure that I planned my career path per se. After receiving my B.Sc in biology, marrying my passions for science and teaching just seemed like the natural fit. I could share my love of science with young people via the classroom.
Tell us about your work with School District 38 and the BC Science Teachers' Association (BCScTA) and its impact?
I am a Science teacher by trade, and I have taught junior Science (grades 8-10), senior Biology (grades 11 & 12), Math and English as a Secondary Language courses. Over the past 10 years, I worked as a Teacher Consultant in the areas of Science, Environmental Stewardship, Literacy and Assessment. What this means is that I have the amazing opportunity to work with staffs, as a group or as individuals, to develop and implement curriculum in schools. Through workshops, series, co-planning and co-teaching opportunities, I get to work indirectly with students via their teachers, to instil the habits of mind of a curious scientist.
I have been a part of the BC Science Teachers’ Association executive since 2007. I am currently the 2nd Vice President, and my main role has been to chair the annual Science Teachers’ conference, support and advocate for quality Science education in BC, provide professional learning workshops and to liaison with local and provincial partner groups to promote Science in classrooms and beyond. As an Association, we endeavour to reach and support all teachers throughout the province.
What is Science World’s role in promoting and supporting STEM learning and careers in BC
Science World is a catalyst for promoting and supporting STEM learning and careers in BC. Science World is a trusted science resource for both teachers and students. The promotion of STEM learning and careers takes place in many different forms including: professional development workshops, the Scientist in Schools programs, field trips, BC Green Games, Science Leadership for Teens, and so much more. Science World truly is a great access point for all learners.
About the BCScTA
The BC Science Teachers’ Association is a Provincial Specialist Association of the BC Teachers’ Federation. The main objectives of the BCScTA are to advocate for quality science education in BC by working with partner organizations including the BC Ministry of Education and BCTF on science curriculum, to provide resources for teachers on on their website and via several listserves, to coordinate professional development opportunities including an annual conference, and to promote science and technology careers to high school students. The BCScTA is a signatory on the BC Science Charter and an active participant of the BC Science Outreach community. Science World is pleased to be collaborating to deliver several workshops at next year's PSA Superconference in October.
What's happening today for Science Odyssey?
It's the final day of Science Odyssey!
Be sure to check out the Tinkering Space within Made in Canada at TELUS World of Science.