Mission, Vision and Values

Mission: Encouraging excellence in science education through leadership and service

Vision: To be the leading voice in the advancement of science education in Ontario

Values:

Inclusion

STAO is committed to the inclusion and support of all educators who teach science and technology in Ontario. Our members, like the students they serve, are multilingual and represent diverse racial, ethnic, gender, religious, ability, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. 

This commitment extends to assessing, monitoring and recruiting diverse membership and advocating for more diverse representation in the teaching profession as a whole. 

What do we DO that embodies this value?

  • Resources developed through the lens of inclusivity
  • Help educators understand and practice culturally responsive practices
  • Advocate for inclusive practices in our organization, in classrooms, school boards, and in government
  • Provide a voice for underrepresented groups in the science community
  • Partnerships/ consultations with other organization
  • Projects focused on specific content/ perspectives (indigenous, elementary, northern boards, etc.)
  • Review of curriculum through equity and inclusivity lens
  • Attention to inclusive design and accommodations (ELL, special education) in resources
  • Representation from diverse cultures, ethnicities, abilities across STAO committees
  • Advocate for greater diversity in pre-service educator programs
  • Actively engage with the Francophone science education community

Excellence

STAO’s goal is to ensure that every student across Ontario has access to high quality science and technology education that is based on diverse, international research, best practices and progressive education ideals. We will do this by providing educators with access to best-in-class resources that allow them to be innovative in their practice in a manner that is inclusive of, and responsive to, the needs of all students.

What do we DO that embodies this value?

  • Develop resources that reflect current trends in science and technology education, research based practices
  • Provide professional learning to help educators develop their skills in delivery of science education (e.g., culturally relevant pedagogy, use of tech tools)
  • Provide opportunities for professional growth through volunteer opportunities, leadership opportunities
  • Seek out new and innovative partnerships/opportunities in which we can engage our members

Collaboration (community development)

STAO members work together and with our communities towards the common goal of high quality science and technology education for all students. This means providing opportunities to learn with and from each other, and other organizations who embody STAO’s values and commitment to excellence in science and technology education.

What do we DO that embodies this value?

  • Opportunities to join committees & develop leadership skills
  • Have an annual conference which facilitates networking
  • Work with other organizations to promote inclusivity in science and create excellent resources and learning opportunities for our members
  • Creating a community hub for educators to connect with other like-minded educators to learn, share, and inspire each other

Accountability

STAO will ensure that all Ontario students have access to excellent science and technology education through advocacy, accountability and by providing resources and learning opportunities to science educators. This means speaking up on important education issues and continually being accountable to students, educators, and our members in the work that we do.

What do we DO that embodies this value?

  • Advocacy for skills and knowledge students need for success in the future
  • Delivery of quality science and technology professional learning for teachers to ensure that students are getting what they need
  • Support for hands on/ experiential learning by providing resources for safety in classrooms
  • Advocacy at the government level to ensure that students are getting what they need through curriculum and other programs

Innovation

We encourage our members to continually develop a growth mindset by taking advantage of learning opportunities in order to innovate in their classrooms.  By evolving teaching practices, being responsive to student needs, and improving the educational experience, the needs of all students in science classrooms will be better met. This means challenging the status quo and promoting the inclusion of a plurality of perspectives in the discourse in science education.

What do we DO that embodies this value?

  • Development and sharing of resources based on teaching resources that are rooted on impartial evidence based research
  • Leadership through innovation disrupts the status quo that only works for some
  • Being thought leaders by creating, curating or promoting science content and curriculum from diverse cultural perspectives and an anti-oppressive lens

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Science & Technology Education
Statement by STAO’s Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Introduction

STAO recognizes that science and technology are human endeavors. How we define, practice, and apply science and technology, and who participates, is deeply influenced by our history and sociopolitical context. Historically and currently in Canada, power and privilege, barriers and disadvantages are allocated inequitably. This has resulted in the marginalization of groups of individuals, for example, people who identify as Indigenous, Black or 2SLGBTQ+, and individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds or who are experiencing homelessness. Those with multiple overlapping identities or factors are impacted the most. This has limited the full engagement and participation of individuals in science and technology. STAO is committed to helping educators challenge inequitable representation. 

Inclusion in Science and Technology Education 

Education is a fundamental and universal human right. In a world increasingly shaped by science and technology, this includes fostering skills of scientific and technological literacy for everyone. Therefore, spaces where science and technology education occur must allow individuals of all races, ethnicities, genders, religions, and identities the freedom to develop and achieve to their highest potential.

It is the consensus of the educational community that supportive environments enhance teaching and learning, while unsafe environments impede it, sometimes to the point of complete disengagement. Factors that make learning environments safe or unsafe are varied and complex, and can include: the ability of educators or facilitators to recognize and respond quickly to incidents; the design of programs, how participant’s assets and cultures are acknowledged or ignored, and how multiple perspectives are accounted for or omitted; and the efforts by educators or facilitators to consider and confront factors such as conscious and unconscious biases and stereotypes which impact involvement. 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in STAO

STAO’s values are centred around inclusion, excellence, collaboration, innovation and accountability.  Our goal is to ensure that these core values are reflected in the work that we do both internally and externally. We recognize that achieving these goals are only possible when our work is grounded in principles of diversity, equity and inclusion – when each educator feels included and welcome. This requires practices that invite and recognize the diverse voices, perspectives and expertise of members. 

STAO’s role is to ensure, support and sustain high quality science and technology teaching and learning by creating a community for educators that fosters equitable practices. This includes opportunities to work collaboratively to develop resources that reflect diverse perspectives, such as valuing and practicing multiple ways of knowing nature, challenging positivistic science practices, and examining and critiquing human-centered approaches and interpretations in science. We also advocate for inclusive pedagogical practices such as differentiated instruction, cooperative learning and universal design, and equitable approaches to assessment and evaluation. We support developing a teacher population that represents different lived experiences and diverse cultural perspectives. 

Next Steps 

The points below summarize some of STAO’s steps towards inclusion:  

  • Recruiting and sustaining a diverse and highly engaged membership, particularly in positions of responsibility within our organization. This continues the work by teacher preparation programs to recruit diverse teacher candidates so that educators in Ontario might reflect broader societal demographics.

  • Engaging in ongoing assessment on our progress towards inclusion in our internal and external work. This will include monitoring policies, procedures, and day-to-day practices, and offering safer and timely processes to share and respond to feedback from stakeholders.

  • Advocating for teaching and learning practices that promote belonging in classrooms and schools. This includes approaches that emphasize students’ assets rather than deficits, incorporate growth mindsets, utilize real life and authentic issues as vehicles for learning, and pedagogies that are responsive to students’ experiences, cultural perspectives, backgrounds, traditions and knowledge.

  • Teacher training in bias and anti-racism, for teacher growth in order to be able to teach in culturally relevant ways.  This will prepare our members in such a way that we will eliminate the need for a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee in the future

  • Enhancing and diversifying opportunities for educators to share, collaborate and learn about inclusive and effective practices in science and technology education. This initiative will serve to ensure that all students strengthen their skills of scientific and technological literacy, and to increase the participation of students from all groups   

Suggested reference texts and further reading

American Association of Chemistry Teachers. (2020). About us. AACT. https://teachchemistry.org/about-us  

American Association of Physics Teachers. (2018, June 23). Fostering safe and Inclusive Classrooms. AAPT. https://aapt.org/Resources/policy/fostering_safe_inclusive_classrooms.cfm  

Na3tional Association of Biology Teachers. (2021, May). Position statements: Equity in science education. NABT. https://nabt.org/Position-Statements-Equity-in-Science-Education  

National Research Council (2012). A Framework for K-12 Science Education:Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/13165  

National Council of Teachers Mathematics. (2014, April 18). Access and equity in mathematics education: A position of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. NCTM. https://www.nctm.org/Standards-and-Positions/Position-Statements/Access-and-Equity-in-Mathematics-Education/  

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2021). Considerations for program planning: Human rights, equity and inclusive education. Curriculum and Resources. https://www.dcp.edu.gov.on.ca/en/program-planning/considerations-for-program-planning/human-rights-equity-and-inclusive-education  

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2013, November). Culturally Responsive Education: Towards Equity and Inclusivity in Ontario Schools. Capacity Building Series, 35. http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/capacitybuilding.html  

Science Teachers’ Association of Ontario. (2006). Position Paper: The Nature of Science. STAO.  https://cdn-5cb4e3b3f911cf0dc86f377b.closte.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Nature_of_Science.pdf  

Singer, A., Montgomery, G. & Schmoll, S. How to foster the formation of STEM identity: studying diversity in an authentic learning environment. IJ STEM Ed 7, 57 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40594-020-00254-z   

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (2018). Handbook on Measuring Equity in Education. Measuring Equity in Education. UNESCO. http://uis.unesco.org/sites/default/files/documents/handbook-measuring-equity-education-2018-en.pdf  

Wlodkowski, , R. J., & Ginsberg, M. B. (1995). A Framework for Culturally Responsive Teaching. ASCD. https://www.ascd.org/el/articles/a-framework-for-culturally-responsive-teaching 

The Science Teachers’ Association of Ontario (L’Association des professeurs de sciences de l’Ontario) was established in 1890. It is registered as an incorporated non-profit organization with the province of Ontario.

The objectives of STAO/APSO are:

  1. to stimulate and improve the teaching of science in Ontario,
  2. to co-ordinate the activities of its members, and
  3. to disseminate information related to science teaching to its members.

To achieve these objectives, the association has four strategic directions:
 

  1. to provide professional learning opportunities and resources to educators;
  2. to advocate for excellence in the development and implementation of the Ontario curriculum;
  3. to recruit and retain a large, diverse membership, and
  4. to develop and maintain relationships with partners.

To view STAO’s 2020-2023 strategic plan, click here.

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