How can teachers ensure the idea of a STEM school is meaningful and beneficial to students rather than passing as yet another educational trend?
A surge in STEM popularity has increased interest in building a strong background in science, technology, engineering, and math among students. Using the STEM school blueprint as a tool in education is widely recognized among education professionals and is considered in United States legislation and public policy.
While there have been many efforts to expand education to STEM schools, roadblocks still exist. In some areas, teachers, school administrators, and parents are not informed regarding the meaning of STEM, or the elements of teaching these subjects. While Utah’s STEM Action Center recently awarded STEM School designations to eight institutions during its STEM Best Practices Conference, other areas of the country are experiencing discord regarding implementing STEM. The Los Angeles Unified School District remains divided over a proposed state-run STEM school that would be located within the county, according to LA School Report. Unfortunately, this type of discord will prevent the most dedicated education professionals from creating and maintaining an effective community of STEM schools.
More Than Curriculum
Effectively teaching in a STEM school requires more than simply reciting facts to children. One of the most important issues facing education is the lack of STEM experts who are choosing to teach. There are few qualified teachers who consider themselves experts in their content areas, which means school districts must focus more on incentives that will attract STEM professionals and experts who can teach children STEM concepts in meaningful ways.
Channeling STEM information into effective teaching strategies is also integral to quality education in a STEM school. Teachers who instill a growth mindset in students will likely see more success in the classroom through greater understanding of concepts after children use trial and error in their quest toward lesson mastery. Using inquiry-based learning, which requires students to conduct investigations, use data, and reach conclusions based on the information they gather, teachers can help build true STEM schools.
When planning for a STEM school, educators should look to companies that can contribute to education in these fields. Using resources such as Amazon’s With Math I Can and forging relationships through teacher externships allows educators to prepare students for new collar jobs, many of which are STEM based.
Using the Building Blocks of STEM
To engage children in inquiry-based learning, teachers must open their classrooms to a student-centered approach. Inform students of an issue that they must investigate, develop theories regarding, and reflect upon. Following these activities, teachers are then able to engage students in how they reached their solutions and discuss the process together.
By building a STEM school through curriculum and student-centered approaches, teachers will prepare pupils for 21st-century careers. Through continuing to develop their own skills, teachers can help students lay the foundations for their careers. Not only do teachers who pursue externships cultivate their own skills, they also forge invaluable connections with STEM and education professionals at innovative companies and respected educational institutions. These contacts can provide useful information that can be shared with students, engage in on-site and remote field trips, or visit the classroom for career day.
Implementing practices that will cultivate the appropriate atmosphere for a STEM school isn’t difficult in the beginning. The key to building a successful STEM school is consistency with using these methods every day.