O.M.N.I., the Oneonta Mentor Network Initiative, has made extensive
of listservs in support of teachers during a turbulent decade of educational
reform in New York State. The
number of listservs, subscribers to the listservs and e-mail traffic have
increased dramatically with the approach of new high-stakes Regents exams,
students must pass in order to graduate. Regents
examinations in the sciences will be based on Core Curricula derived from
state’s Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST) Learning Standards. In addition to the graduation requirements, there is also
new examination at the eighth grade level.
These new curricula and assessments are driving changes in what
is taught, but more importantly in how science is taught.
OMNI listservs have played a key role in disseminating information
helping teachers mentor each other through these changes.
Implementation of the curricula and assessments is taking place at a
when student enrollments are rising, thousands of teachers are retiring and
inexperienced teachers are entering the ranks of the profession in large
of teachers is vital to helping New York’s students achieve the standards
have been established for graduation. Providing professional development for
veteran teachers and intensive mentoring of inexperienced, new teachers are
perhaps the most crucial elements in assuring the success of the
Professional development of novice teachers is especially important
mentored teachers: make more effective
transition from teacher preparation to practice; have greater confidence in
their teaching skills; focus on student learning much sooner; have
higher retention rates (New York State Regents Task Force on Teaching,
O.M.N.I. has been training and supporting a statewide network of
mentors in Earth Science and Physics since 1989.
Networks for Mathematics and Technology Education were begun in 1999
2000 respectively. OMNI mentors
attend an intensive one week workshop at SUNY Oneonta in the summer.
Following this, they provide workshops, resources and mentoring
for teachers in their local areas throughout the school year.
A closed listserv has been used to facilitate communication among the
mentors and the college faculty who direct the networks.
Open listservs for Earth Science and Physics teachers were launched
promote wider dissemination of information and to provide a forum for
discussion. In the past two years, additional open listservs have
added for science teachers in the middle grades (5-8Science), New
Teachers (NESTLING), and a closed list was created for regional
coordinators of the Science Olympiad.
of Chemistry and Biology requested listservs and these were also initiated
Current subscriptions to the OMNI listservs are shown in the table
The easiest way to subscribe or unsubscribe from any of the listservs is via
interactive form on the OMNI website: http://www.oneonta.edu/~mentor.
SUBSCRIPTIONS TO OMNI LISTSERVS AT SUNY ONEONTA
and GRADE LEVEL
list for O.M.N.I. Mentors
Science (typically 9, some 8)
Elementary and Middle School (5-8)
grade levels and disciplines)
(11 & 12)
Olympiad Regional Coordinators
OMNI listservs have been tremendously well-received by teachers.
The listservs are remarkably effective in reducing teachers’ feelings
of isolation. Anecdotal evidence indicates that the listservs are having a
positive impact on teaching and learning. By
directly supporting teachers in the field, the listservs make efficient and
valuable use of the college’s technological resources.
The following are examples of the types of services provided by the
listservs: dissemination of information from the State Education Department,
forum for discussion, questions regarding content are answered by other
teachers, college faculty and/or staffers from SED, announcements of
sharing resources, websites, etc., sharing innovative teaching strategies,
sharing of information (e.g., How is this done in your district?).
The listservs have had an impact on candidates in science teacher
teachers have asked for ideas on activities, lesson plans, etc. and have
arranged interviews with teachers through the lists. Students have indicated
that they have benefited simply by “eavesdropping in the teachers’
The OMNI listservs are not without problems.
A few subscribers have used the listservs as a soapbox for
Recurrent postings of virus-bearing messages plagued the lists for a
period of weeks until the college’s technical service staff found a
Fortunately, the greatest problem with the listservs is transparent
the teachers/subscribers. The manager of the listservs (JRE) receives “bounce
backs” of undeliverable messages in addition to all messages posted.
At times, the volume of this e-mail can be ponderous!
COMMENTS, QUESTIONS AND OTHER POSTS ON OMNI LISTSERVS
am really happy that you have created such a useful listserv for new
postings on the ESPRIT listserv have been really interesting.
Although I’m not in the classroom yet, I can see the wealth of
resources it provides!”
example of an Internet activity is below. These
are really great and the kids love doing them!!!!”
This NESTLING site is taking off. I
think I received like 16 messages from it since I wrote my e-mail yesterday
THANKS TO ALL who responded!”
management is a tough issue.
is especially true once students get into the habit of being unruly.
I suggest not showing anger.
angry response gives them the idea that they control the situation and they
control you. I’ve taught in six different schools.
The first year is usually the most difficult.”
you for all the good websites.
a great net (listserv) this is.”
the volume of e-mail, which is a good problem to have, kudos to you and the
people at Oneonta that run this thing.
am so impressed by the community of Earth Science teachers which exists
the ESPRIT listserv! So, do
lists exist for Bio, Chem and Physics?”
This was a terrific idea (5-8Science listserv) and I will be passing
along to all the members of our Regional Curriculum Council - we have the
possibility of connecting 28 school districts - powerful stuff.
you for all you have done to make communicating in science education over
last several years in New York State a breeze.”
am a new science teacher. I
grade general science. I was
wondering if anyone had any good ideas to teach the earth’s crust or plate
you and Oneonta for sponsoring this valuable service.
It allows people, who during the rush of the day, don’t get a chance
communicate, an opportunity to share information, ask and answer