Peer collaboration.

Describe ways your fellowship has changed you. Consider how you collaborate with peers, discover new talents and learn about STEM careers.


The fellowship has shown me that the best way to grow and to learn is to play with teachers. Professional developments, readings, online seminars, textbooks etc, are all find sources of material. But the best growth comes from connecting with others who share your passion for growth and exploration. This has caused me to shift the framing of my summers from “recovery time” to “exploration time.” Nothing recharges the spirit and creative mojo quite like sharing some experiences and laughs with some fellow crazy educators.  So the biggest change would be the commitment to consistently go out and find new experiences!

The experience

Describe your internship experience.

  • What was the most interesting moment?
  • What was the biggest challenge?
  • Describe what you saw and did: Did you see one aspect of a company or lab or did you visit different departments or sites? Did you work with a single mentor or multiple professionals?
  • What was it like working with your mentor(s)? How did they open your eyes to a new industry or research?
  • What is your biggest take away?
  • NCCAT was an amazing experience. I would really love it if an experience like this could be utilized to develop educational resources. Where a group of teachers were put into teams to develop lessons around a theme or educational standard. Groups could give each other peer feedback through the process. I think that would be a fun and fulfilling process that would yield very high quality lessons very quickly.
  • The challenge was the lack of focus. There were many obligations and objectives. Most of the experience felt scattered and schizophrenic. It was challenging to make the most of the opportunities provided as so many things competed for attention.
  • We worked with several professors at NC state. We toured a variety of facilities related to the development of wearable devices.
  • The mentors were very nice and spent some time exploring the techniques of selling and promoting ideas to others.
  • The largest take away from these experiences were the need to teach students how to develop new ideas and engineering solutions to the problems we see in our lives.

Challenges to success.

You are creating a product that transfers your internship experience into educational resources. Please describe the challenges and successes you are experiencing.

The largest challenge that I faced during this fellowship is the same challenge that I face during the school year. There is always a time crunch. The scattered obligations posed a challenge to spending time developing a focused product. Additionally, the material itself, engineering and wearable devices is very difficult to shoehorn into the state mandated curriculum especially when the assist center has a list of requirements and expectations for the lesson plans as well. It was extremely challenging to develop a lesson that meets the requirements of the state, the mentors, is feasible in the time available, with the resources available, that is still interesting and relevant to students.

Mentor’s Benifit

How do you see your internship experience benefitting your mentor’s organization?

The assist center may get a fresh perspective or potential new directions to take their development. While our projects and brainstorming might not be anywhere near a final project, simply the creative process might stimulate new ideas.

Describe the goals of your internship as they relate to your work as an educator.

Students are told they have to go to school. They are told they need to take certain classes. In class they are told what they need to learn.

It is easy to see how certain students can object to this situation. Our challenge is to make the learning meaningful and something to be sought rather than assigned. While this is not a new thought, it does not seem to be widely implemented. One of the obstacles to the implementation is the

Describe the highlight of your week at NCCAT and why it was important to you.

I learned and experienced a great deal during the NCCAT retreat. The most significant thing that I will take away is not a discrete strategy but more of a philosophy.

Many of the sessions and activities focused on and demonstrated the importance of focusing on the whole student experience rather than simply effective means of information conveyance. This has encouraged me to reflect on how to create a more welcoming, engaging and lively environment for the students. I’m guilty of thinking that the students have an obligation to come to school and engage in the lesson. But we are all human and lesson plans and ideas need to take that into account. We may have awesome ideas in the abstract, but if the classroom and the lesson have not be humanized, they will be very ineffective.

While most of the sessions were fantastic, the sessions that I personally did not gain much from were the ones in which only abstract concepts were discussed, or an example of the lesson was engaged in. For me the sweet spot lies in describing a specific tool, skill or strategy to implement in the classroom, discussing the objective and benefits, then to walk through the implementation of this tool or technique in a pseudo activity, and then finally talk about pitfalls and troubleshooting the idea in the context of specific classrooms. But overall this experience was fantastic.

The largest advantage of this particular PD was the duration, isolation, diversity and self direction. Most PD I have participated in has been done in a hurried, one-size-fits-all, let’s squeeze this in, type of format. You cannot unwind, you cannot digest, you cannot discuss, you cannot focus, you simply get it done and get it over so you can check a box.

The most useful session I would have to say was the app slam. This was a fast paced share-a-thon that was extremely efficient at giving out ideas of tools and did not try to be anything more than that. What would have been nice would have been if this had been done earlier in the week and then time was given to do break-out sessions based upon the different apps shared and allowed teachers to play with the apps and ask questions to see if they would want to utilize this tool.

What do you hope to gain from your fellowship experience?

This fellowship will elevate my teaching by allowing me to stand upon the shoulders of giants. Being in touch with expert teachers and teachers driven to improve their craft will allow for a faster development of new and effective ideas to use in the classroom.

By having the time, resources and support to develop more effective methodologies and learn innovated ideas, I can support the teachers at my school in implementation and troubleshooting their own techniques and strategies.