Standard 6

STANDARD 6 

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Educators and leaders participate in an ongoing system of STEM-specific professional learning. 

INITIATIVES/ACTIONS: 
- Provide STEM training to increase teacher efficacy
- Teacher’s seeking training for professional growth




What Does It Look Like?

As we moved from our special program accreditation to school wide implementation, we realized it is vital for teachers and leaders at Beaufort Elementary School to participate in ongoing professional learning. The culture of the school is to have a professional growth mindset. It is essential that we help teachers grow with their knowledge and experience of STEM to ensure that students in the building have an equitable opportunity for STEM learning. Some of our staff members have attended Discovery Education training and brought back ideas to help their peers.  Teacher leaders of Beaufort Elementary School attended the National Science Teaching Conference, which offers exposure to the most recent science content, teaching strategies, and research to enhance and expand our professional growth. During inhouse professional development all teachers have had the opportunity to experience several STEM challenges such as moon landing, candy crush, Breakout Boxes, and spaghetti towers. This type of modeling helps teachers incorporate engineering builds in their own classrooms.

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In addition, faculty members presented at a Title I conference showing the impact of STEM learning for everyone in Title I schools. Additionally, they have presented to teachers how to incorporate STEM during the District Summer Institute. Teachers at Beaufort Elementary participate in weekly professional development during planning time which includes STEM learning.  While attending a STEAM symposium, the principal was introduced to the idea of a schoolwide reading project. As a result of this new learning, Beaufort Elementary School initiated the One School, One Book initiative where the entire school reads an assigned chapter book at the same time. Students participated in a culminating STEM challenge based on an event in the book.


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master          Symposium

    

Strengths

Fortunately, we have been able to maintain a core group of teachers that are very knowledgeable about the implementation of STEM in the building that continue to add to their repertoire.   This group of veterans work hard to provide support for those teachers with less experience through the building through modeling, team planning, and team teaching. Teachers are comfortable with one another and openly communicate to share ideas or think through lessons.  

Sustainability

Administration supports teachers by encouraging them to seek out professional development focused on components of STEM.  Funds for such staff development is provided and the teachers are asked to provide in-house staff development in order to share strategies and information with others.

Challenges

One of our biggest challenges is erasing our preconceived misconceptions of what students are capable of doing. Differentiation is necessary with STEM as well as other aspects of education.  The belief that certain groups may not be able to reach a certain goal had to be “unlearned”.   Our diverse population requires that lessons be adjusted to ensure that all students reach the goal.  The end product is attainable for all, but we need to have additional supports in place to help students.  Additional research and experimentation may be required to ensure that ALL students are ready to design with a level of experience to ensure informed decision making.  As a school, we needed to shift our awareness of what learning looks like.  It is messy.  It is noisy.  It isn’t perfect.  Successes teach us but sometimes the greatest learning comes from the designs that fall short.  Perseverance is a skill that each individual needs to possess regardless of age.  Historically, the teachers who taught science or math were the ones who did STEM learning.  Through this process, we have found STEM can be incorporated and enhanced in all subject areas.

Continuous Improvement

Though we have worked hard to prepare our teachers for STEM education, we can always learn more and strive to increase our expertise. A plan would be to increase teachers sharing their knowledge within the school and to ensure that every teacher is able to attend.  We would be interested in finding innovative presenters to facilitate additional school-wide training.