The time is past for schools “to dip their toes into STEM,” says Rich Mackrell, Curriculum Director. “They’re at the point where they need to define what STEM means for their school.”
And once that definition is crafted, schools must commit to instructing not only students on the daily applications of STEM but teachers, too. Luzerne IU 18’s unique partnership with educator-development firm LearnSTEMic LLC guides school districts in defining their visions and developing implementation plans built around personalized teacher professional development.
The effort grew from the IU’s personalized training approach, as districts sought STEM professional development solutions that are “manageable, scalable, and affordable,” said Grieco.
The goal is eliminating mismatched lessons and delivering a shared educational continuum as students scale each level of STEM learning, said IU 18 Executive Director Anthony Grieco.
By weaving STEM learning into all aspects of the classroom and connecting to STEM applications in the real world, schools upend “the misconception that STEM is only for high flyers,” said Grieco, whose IU offers a tapestry of STEM programs under the vision of STEM4ALL. “There’s STEM everywhere.”
IU 18’s Practical STEM professional development blends its training strengths with LearnSTEMic’s technology and Harrisburg University of Science and Technology’s curriculum. Required classroom exercises built into professional development modules give teachers the confidence to test STEM concepts – even if the class is music or physical education – and collect feedback from students.
Past training modules often imposed “no expectations that teachers would take these assignments into the classroom with the kids,” said Mackrell. “This is practical stuff that teachers can use right away.”
Teachers also share results with each other, in their own schools or at regional events, “speaking the same language and learning together,” said Grieco. “They’re building a professional learning community and collaborating inside their schools. Some of the best professional development comes when teachers are learning from one another or feeling supported enough that they can carry out new things in the classroom.”