My Kenan fellowship has changed the way that I interact with my peers in that I greatly value my fellow Kenans, their insight and their contributions. Our school morale is low at times and establishing relationships as a support person can also be challenging, so having fellow Kenans has given me the collaboration opportunity in which to share ideas.
It has also taught me to reach out to fellow teachers within my school that also value STEM opportunities and have a desire to learn more to move our school forward. For instance, in the past I had experienced some frustration in trying to get our MakerSpace up and running and frustration in trying to get time to deliver professional development that would empower teachers to use STEM tools within our school. Instead of continuing to be frustrated with the varying priorities and trying to move these initiatives forward, I have found some solutions of my own, building in optional PDs for the staff one to two times monthly. In addition, I have encouraged all of the staff to engage in at least one yearly STEM/MakerSpace challenge.
My instruction in my classroom continues to have a driving focus on some form of STEM exploration. What has changed most is how I deliver instruction as a coach or instructional leader. As a learning coach, teachers often felt resentment toward new initiatives. With the STEM challenges, teachers are able to select one challenge per year in which they would like to participate, team up with their grade level teams, and otherwise make the challenge their own. Offering this as an option has been effective in encouraging buy-in. In addition, I have teamed up with some volunteers who help gather items for these challenges. When materials, space, handouts and other supports are offered, teachers are excited to participate in these challenges more readily.
I have sought to add more STEM career instruction to the units that I teach students as I learn more about the opportunities in the area. In addition, our local community offers STEM in the Park, which are opportunities to become more familiar with opportunities in the Research Triangle. As I learn more about the fields and the day to day of these careers, I incorporate pictures and information about STEM jobs in our area.