Head of the class

In a reversal of roles, Montoursville Area High School students recently had the opportunity to lead groups of teachers in science classes at Lycoming College during a biotechnology professional development workshop.

Of the four sessions offered to the nearly 50 teachers in attendance, three were completely designed by students in Montoursville’s Science National Honor Society.

“(Students) do the research. They do the presentation. They do the preparation,” said Karen Avery, Montoursville science teacher. “They pretty much do everything.”

The workshop is open to high school science teachers, who are able to attend all four sessions that touch on a variety of topics.

The workshop has been hosted at Lycoming for more than 20 years, Avery said.

And while it started as having professional presenters, Avery said students have been given the opportunity to lead the groups the past few years. She said students enjoy doing it and the teachers like it too.

“(Teachers in attendance) love to be taught by the students,” Avery said.

But Avery added that students weren’t exactly familiar with all of the topics they were covering when first assigned them. Also, some of the students were working with those they weren’t used to working with.

“There’s really quite a lot of science skills and soft skills that they are going to use,” Avery said.

Avery also said that students are learning about how to lead and work with a large group. She added that students needed to take control of their class. She said students must work as a team and trouble shoot problems they encounter throughout their lesson.

“They are learning a lot about personalities. I think they thought the teachers would come in and sit down,” Avery said.

For the most part, Avery said she is a resource to the students should they need help. But until they ask, she stays out of the students’ ways.

“The less I manage, the better they seem to do,” she said.

Students were excited to be a part of the workshop, as Avery explained that Lycoming College allowed them to visit its herpetology and cadaver laboratories.

Avery said she was happy to see the students work through any difficulties and do a good job at the workshop.

“I’m really proud of the students,” she said.

But not only is the workshop important for students, but for the teachers that attend. Each teacher goes home with a science kit that they can use in their classroom. And it allows them to collaborate and learn new techniques in presenting information to their students.

“For some of them, this is the only professional development they get at all,” Avery said.