Searching for the “Right” Steps to Take

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Thus far, in the very early stages of my internship, the major challenge I am facing is one I’m sure every adult has…that overwhelming fear that you’re going to get “found out” as a fraud, and told to go home—I know, I know, there’s a name for this, but overcoming my Imposter Syndrome has by far been my biggest challenge.  Struggle number two, being insurmountably overwhelmed with possibility.  As all educators that are passionate about their jobs are, I too am constantly doing all the things to grow professionally and personally.  As of late, my brain is full of ideas and dreams—I just need to find the steps I need to take to make them realities.  That all said, my time at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proving useful for this exact reason.  As I am meeting with various leaders in various fields, I am finding so much out about the work that is being done here at EPA.  More importantly, I am finding so much out about the work that is being done in society and science.  Through meeting people and sharing my passions and ideas, I am figuring out systems of support for the educational projects I am working on.

One of the first projects I am working on is creating educational tools and resources for teachers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses to use to promote STEM Literacy.  In addition to working with educators in my own building and district, it has been wonderful to work with leaders in my internship as well.  From these mentors, I am hearing what literacy and communication skills are most needed in STEM industries.  With this insight, I can better develop and hone tools to facilitate authentic and real-life learning in the classroom.  A second part of my overall project is to create an inclusive network of STEM Leaders (primarily those here at the EPA) who can come into classrooms and share their experiences with young people.  Prior to coming to the EPA, I only knew the tiniest amount about what they do.  Coming here has been so eye opening for me, and I’d like to share these experiences and stories with the young people I teach.  With this, students are able to access information about opportunities that exist in spaces they may be unaware of.  Additionally, in bringing speakers and leaders into the classroom, students are able to make important connections they may otherwise not have equitable access to; with this, they can develop skills to “network out.”

These are two levels of my three tiered project.  Tier three is nebulous and beautiful and messy and hopeful; needless to say, it needs more organization before I start sharing it too publically.  I promise to share more about it later.  I am most excited about tier three of my project, though, because it combines what I am learning about Environmental Education at the EPA with my passion for Environmental and Social Justice.  In creating and developing and fostering more STEM and CTE Literacy, especially with regards to Environmental Education (tier 1) , as well as providing a network of support for students (tier 2), I am hoping to create some local programs promoting inclusive outdoor exploration and appreciation (tier 3).

So, I’m here.  I know what I’m doing…mostly. And I am looking forward to continuing to reach out to my own support networks here at the EPA.  As an English teacher, I feel like a fish out of water.  Yet, being in the world of STEM right now, I am able to see myself and my role as an educator more clearly.   I may not be taking all the right steps to the get me exactly where I want to be, but I’ve at least found a couple stair cases.