School is out or soon will be for summer – a time when most teachers can kick back and take full advantage of a sun-and-fun break. No more thinking about students and school, right? Wrong! (You knew that. Teachers are always learning.)
In my years teaching middle school science, summer was an ideal time to pause, take a deep breath or two, and let my mind wander over lessons and learning that took place during the previous school year. Inevitably, ideas for changes and improvements drifted to the surface as I thought about things that went great and . . well, not so great.
I’m passionate about teacher leadership. I deeply believe that well-informed and skilled teacher leaders are the most valuable assets we have in our schools, districts, and states.
In the STEM education arena, teacher leaders are particularly crucial. All STEM teachers can be classroom leaders, but every school and district needs to invest time and resources into developing STEM Teacher Leaders (STLs – an acronym I just concocted) to take on additional roles and responsibilities.
America’s Got Talent!, acclaims a popular TV show – and it goes on to spotlight an assortment of talented performing artists (and a few who should probably consider other paths). But does America have STEM talent? Of course! We have STEM talent aplenty, but are we taking full advantage of it? Are we good at unearthing this valuable human resource?
Many leaders say “no” and point out that in our own American universities, more foreign students graduate in STEM fields than do American students. Where are our talented, capable students? Our nation’s workforce needs innovative STEM workers as fast as we can produce them.
Kids develop STEM habits in the classroom, but they spend most of their time outside of school. That’s where parents and other adults can help to inspire, support, and continue their children’s STEM learning.
That means that parents must also know what STEM is and have a toolkit of ideas for helping their kids.