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Willowbank School – Tina Joshua-Bargh

2016 | Ecology and our changing world

SchoolWillowbank School

HostCentre for Biodiversity and Biosecurity, The University of Auckland


Willowbank School is an Enviroschool and as such, believes that science needs to be practical, taught within a meaningful context and driven through the students.  Willowbank School has started down the road of upskilling their teachers so that they become more effective science teachers, and Tina’s participation in this programme will enhance this journey. Over the past two years, the school has been part of the Botany Science Learning and Change Network (LCN). Tina is a member of the LCN steering committee, which is dedicated to improving science teaching and learning in this cluster of schools. Tina’s learning from the Science Teaching Leadership Programme will greatly enhance the knowledge base of this committee.

Tina has 18 years of teaching experience at primary level in Canada and New Zealand.  She is passionate about helping students to learn social skills, and has developed a school based programme to teach these skills in a non-threatening way to students from all areas of the school.  This is another aspect of her dedication to students as well as to the Willowbank Way culture.

Tina’s participation in the Science Teaching Leadership Programme allowed her to experience life as a scientist and to be involved in ecological science in an authentic and practical way.  She was hosted by Dr. Cate Macinnis-Ng, Senior Lecturer and Rutherford Discovery Fellow at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland.  Tina  will be able to share the experiences she had while working with Cate, with students and staff at Willowbank School so that they can then be incorporated into teaching and learning.  Tina hopes to further develop links with the local scientific community so students can be exposed to authentic science knowledge, skills and attitudes.  Using what she has learned on the STLP, Tina’s goal is to make science fun, meaningful and relevant to all students at Willowbank School.

When Tina returns to Willowbank School, she will be able to use the leadership skills and knowledge gained from the programme, as well as on-going phase two support, to raise the profile of the Nature of Science strand from the New Zealand curriculum as well as the profile of the Science Capabilities. There will be the opportunities to inform colleagues and to develop and enhance units of work in science.  Willowbank School’s aim is to engage students in science and develop their knowledge of how scientists work so they can think critically about science and are able to participate in society as informed citizen scientists.  Willowbank School firmly believes that science should not be taught in isolation or be a one off topic, but should be part of the fabric of everyday learning. Through the nature of science, students should continuously be making links between theory and practical based learning, and when possible linking it to their own environment. The school believes that science needs to be practical, taught within a meaningful context and driven by the students. This is reflected in their philosophy as an Enviroschool.  In 2017 Willowbank School plans to build a greenhouse using recyclable material, grow native plants and vegetables from seedlings as well as to build an outdoor classroom.  All of this learning will include student voice and ownership and will aim to include their community as much as possible throughout all phases.  This will also lead to authentic science learning and inquiry.   

Tina would like to thank the team at the Royal Society of New Zealand, and Executive Education, University of Otago, for giving her the opportunity to extend her experience and build her professional knowledge.  She would also like to extend her appreciation to the other Participant Teachers for their supportive attitude and willingness to challenge ideas which created an atmosphere that encouraged professional growth.

A huge thank you is due to Cate and the scientists at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Tamaki Campus, for being so willing to share their knowledge, take time to give explanations, giving guidance on field trips and sharing their passion for communicating science.  As well as learning many contextual facts about the science that happens at the School of Biological Sciences, Tina learned how these scientists share their knowledge with their colleagues and the public and the “so what” of what they do.    

The Science Teaching Leadership Programme has provided Tina with an amazing professional learning journey that she is looking forward to putting into practice and sharing with others.