Pushing forward our professional growth

Posted by: admin

Author: Lindzy Bivings
Organization: California Academy of Sciences

Hi! Lindzy Bivings, from the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, CA. Our mission is to explore, explain, and sustain life on earth. Of course, this means we do a lot of education—here at our museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, at schools and other learning settings around our community. Reflecting on Practice has helped our educators—who come from varied backgrounds, and work in diverse learning settings—understand and work within an overarching educational philosophy.

This has been especially important at this point in our life as an institution, which has seen tremendous growth and change. We opened a new facility in 2008, which took our staff from about 100 people to 500. It was a wonderful experience to grow that much, but it also came with its own challenges. A few years after we got through the initial rush of re-opening and doing basic onboarding for staff, several managers in the education department knew that we wanted to dive deeper into professional learning and development for our staff. In 2010, another manager and I participated in a RoP Coaching Workshop at the Lawrence Hall of Science. Our goal was to get all of our educators speaking the same language so that we could build the capacity of our institution and staff, improve our efficiency, and better work together on a big range of projects and initiatives.

We implemented RoP at the Academy in 2011. Since then, we’ve repeated some modules over time, and we’ve also developed some of our own modules. One of the great things about doing this program over time is that it has helped push forward their professional growth—some of our educators who first participated in 2011 have now implemented the program with other educators, and advanced their careers to become supervisors and managers.

RoP was valuable for staff at multiple levels at our museum. In our case, the decision to participate came from mid-level management (although our Director was also supportive!). This implementation allowed for more cross-level communication—it’s never felt like a top-down scenario. It allowed for more open communication and dialogue, and helped everyone to learn from each other.

We’re excited to be a partner with others who do RoP and offer RoP Coaching Workshops at the Academy for educators from other institutions to come together and build a common language. And as we grow and change, I am sure we’ll continue to use RoP at our own institution.

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