STEM Professional Development Tips
There has been an increase in the familiarity and popularity of STEM in the past few decades, which continues to transform learning and teaching. When elementary teachers are fully equipped and informed on what STEM is all about and how they should support learning, learners will be guided to think and work like scientists and engineers. Research has shown that their experiences largely impact the likelihood of students pursuing STEM in college or as a career in elementary school. Here are helpful stem professional tips that teachers can significantly benefit from.
First, you need to reframe and grasp the meaning of STEM. It is crucial for educators to appreciate the fact that STEM goes beyond its acronym to being intentional and instructional approach. The approach should aid in building the learners’ critical thinking and level of understanding across learning areas. This approach goes a long way in preparing for the rigors of technology,post-secondary science, engineering, and mathematics in college, and when they finally choose career paths. Besides offering academic skills, STEM introduction helps a lot in addressing the latest skills, which include critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, creativity, and workforce requirements as part of continuous instructions across content areas.
STEM learning and instruction has to be meaningful enough to connect to the learner’s world. Learning has to make sense, and teachers can do this by bringing the child’s world and daily experiences to the classroom setup. Teachers should help elementary level children to connect to STEM content to their daily experiences. For instance, if you are teaching the daylight savings concept, it is the ideal time to help them understand the rotation of the earth.
When helping elementary learners to grasp STEM concepts, teachers should make learning active. Remember that people learn more by doing, and traditional practices like reading from textbooks and lecturing can be boring and ineffective for both the learner and the teacher. When learners are actively involved in learning, they learn more and can retain the information for longer. As a teacher, you must always think hands-on and encourage learners to speak up. Find teaching aids besides sheets of paper and help learners get practical with the concept you are teaching.
Learners need to converse about the concepts they are learning and must move beyond memorizing content and reproducing them when asked. When you instill this expectation in learners, you empower them to learn and gain more from the lesson. Give the learners the freedom to explain their thoughts as this will enable them to gauge their understanding better and offer guidance through possible areas of confusion. When learners can explain concepts in their own words, they can better understand the concept as opposed to reproducing memorized words.
The other important STEM professional development tip is to make learning social. Human beings are social by nature, and they learn more and better through interaction with others. Learning through social interaction, surpass academic skills, and involves active collaboration and communication skills, which are critical in today’s work environment.