Challenges and Successes…

The past four weeks have a great overall experience that any educator could only hope to have.  STEM education has been and will be a crucial part of educating youth for the foreseeable future.  Educators today need to focus not only on STEM content but also the success skills and technology skills needed to apply knowledge in present day careers.  These skills have been researched extensively and are well known as ones that absolutely need to be targeted in any lesson.  What educators have found difficult is how to successfully target these skills in ways that they are used in STEM career fields.

The biggest success during these last four weeks would have to be seeing these success skills used in all aspects of STEM career fields.  I have taken part in leadership meetings, customer service problem solving sessions, helped maintenance fix heavy machinery, seen most of the automated machines in action, shadowed floor technicians, and had multiple discussions/ interviews with mechanical and electrical engineers.  Each one of these instances were invaluable for me as an educator.  I was able to see various different success skills being applied in various different STEM business settings.  It was interesting to see the different combination of skills needed to complete different daily tasks.  Problem solving on the floor, for example, is a different process and needs distinct technical skills.  Problem solving in leadership meetings is a much different process and requires an abundance of communication, active listening, and collaboration skills.  Being able to integrate these skills in my science lab units will be much easier now that I have seen them applied in real-world STEM scenarios.

There haven’t been many things that I could consider big challenges so far.  One small challenge I have ran into is the sheer complexity of everything involved in STEM career fields.  Everything from the computer programming involved in teaching automated machines to be accurate within a few microns to value stream discussions involving every single aspect of the business was a little complicated to comprehend right off the bat.  Part of this was due to the technical terminology being used and part was my own education on topics being discussed.  One of the first things I reflected on while my head was initially spinning involved how educators could begin tackling the challenge of creating very well-rounded students with capabilities to tackle such a detailed and complicated career that you find in STEM companies.

Overall, this has been an unbelievable experience.  It is hard to put into words how beneficial it has been for my educational career growth.  I have had so many ideas about the future of my science lab.  Having an Integrative STEM Education background, I view my science lab classroom as a place where more than typical labs/experiments take place.  I want to eventually use project-based design units to teach all elementary school science standards.  This internship has given me the confidence and new knowledge sets needed to start tackling this classroom transition.

What A Week!

Hello everyone!  I first want to say that this past week at the Kenan Fellowship Summer Institute was one of the better experiences in my professional life.  I had my expectations for the week coming in but didn’t think it was going to be as beneficial as it ended up being.  There are many things I can describe as the highlight of my week: the teambuilding/educational rafting trip, the professional development, the introduction of new technologies for classroom use, etc.  I have to say that meeting and forging relationships with so many passionate and dedicated educators trumps all other experiences.  It was a pleasure to meet and get to know every individual involved with the fellowship.  I believe the best professional development one can have involves open discussion with those that have the same passion for working with youth as you.  This week provided an endless amount of opportunities to do this.

Compared to other professional development in my career, the Summer Institute I believe will in the long-term be the most influential and memorable for me.  The entire week was planned to encourage relationship building and collaboration.  I was able to learn just as much from my colleagues as I did the engaging and authentic content workshops and guest speakers.  Being able to discuss past experiences, passions for teaching youth and teaching techniques was such a beneficial experience for me as a relatively new teacher.

One of the things I truly appreciated about this week was the variety of content-rich workshops and collaborations.  As a K-5 Science Lab teacher, I work with all thirty classrooms in elementary school once a week and have found it more difficult at times to create the differentiated, hands-on, long-term engaging labs I had initially planned on conducting.  This week provided me with multiple strategies and tools that would be beneficial in my unique situation.  This is especially the case in how I organize and provide content for the older grade levels, including my Science Olympiad teams.  I was introduced to online platforms and applications that I feel can be easily implemented in my unique classroom setting that will greatly assist me in how I organize and differentiate content to the different classes and grade levels each day.

Growing As An Educator: Creating Long-Lasting Relationships

Hello everyone!  I knew before the Kenan Fellowship and Summer Institute started that this experience would be one of the most unique opportunities of my professional career (past, present, and future).

There are many things I hope to get out of this experience.  I am a firm believer that personal and professional relationships with those around you, especially with those who share similar interests and professional beliefs, are of extreme importance.  Although I have worked with youth for over a decade, I am still new to the teaching profession.  My biggest hope for this fellowship is to create a network of colleagues that share a similar passion and interest in not only forging what the future STEM education classroom setting can look like but also ones who share a similar passion for improving the lives of youth.

Another hope of mine is to learn how the engineering design process is applied in a professional setting.  I have a pretty extensive knowledge of the design process through my schooling and background.  After spending two days last week with my mentor at Bosch Rexroth and being able to walk through the production areas, engineering stations, etc., how I have used the engineering design process in the classroom, although successful, has not scratched the surface of its actual potential in empowering youth to learn and apply their knowledge using 21st Century Skills.  I am excited to work with varying engineers, product sales, customer service, and other professionals that make an advanced STEM company tick.  I hope to use this chance to form an extensive network of professional STEM contacts that can hopefully be a guiding light for myself and my students moving forward in regards to Integrative STEM Education.