Teachers Learning Too
STEM teachers and leaders participate in a continuous program of STEM-specific professional development.
STEM Professional Development.
Our STEM teachers participate in STEM Professional Development (PD) on a regular basis. Our teachers attend weekly staff meetings that include discussion and collaboration on STEM teaching and learning topics. Actually, one of the primary goals of these meetings is to increase STEM teaching knowledge and to share inquiry-based learning experiences. An excellent example is when the school spent an entire month of weekly staff meetings focused on teacher development of their STEM-centric, inquiry-based learning programs.
In addition to this month-long STEM-focused PD, our STEM Coordinator and Director of Curriculum and Instruction facilitate bi-weekly PD and training sessions with smaller groups of mixed grade-level teachers. With their support, teachers are afforded a forum to ask questions, discuss ideas, request resources, and collaborate with fellow teachers. This effort results in a strong unit plan that includes STEM practices that will prepare our students for academic and STEM excellence.
Another example of a valuable STEM PD meeting is when our STEM Coordinator modeled a STEM lesson to individual grade-level classroom teachers. By doing this, the coordinator showed teachers a working demonstration of how to incorporate STEM topics into their lessons and how best to apply what they learned.
Our STEM Coordinator schedules our individual classroom and Specials teachers’ visits to other STEM schools in the area. The visits give our teaching staff additional exposure to STEM implementation in a classroom. These visits prove to be beneficial for our teachers; they see firsthand what the best practices of STEM teaching and learning look like.
Along with the integration of STEM learning, administrators and teachers also recognize the critical role today’s technology plays in positioning our students for long-term academic success.
One of the first uses of newly implemented technology was in 2016 when VWCS decided to become a 1:1 iPad school. Teachers unfamiliar with the advantages that iPads can add to the effectiveness of their profession went on a journey to learn best practices of using the device in the classroom. This PD on how best to use technology as a teaching and learning tool has been ongoing. As a result, 100% of our classroom teachers have earned the Apple Teacher badge and are encouraging student technology use which impacts STEM literacy in a positive manner.
Accommodating to Individual Needs
Our STEM Coordinator and Director of Curriculum and Instruction lead weekly STEM-centric PD meetings that are designed to provide guidance on a number of topics, including data talks, teacher observations, and teacher requests. These PD sessions also coach teachers on how to accommodate individual student needs..
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