When I visited Charles E. Smith in November, I happened to be there for a faculty meeting devoted to planning for the upcoming STEM Day. I took the role of documentarian as I watched the teachers prepare (I think it would be more truly descriptive to say I watched them “pre-play”).
This short video captures Alexis Soffler opening the meeting by describing how the STEM Day has evolved over the years in terms of teachers’ partnership and participation. She describes it as a profound shift from earlier years “when we just tried to make it to the end of the day. This is truly a collaborative experience. Your experienced, critical eye and feedback are an important part of the process.”
She wraps up by sharing the rationale for having teachers pre-play with the materials and explore the challenges themselves prior to using these with students.
My reflections: As the outside observer and documenter of this experience, I was struck by these things:
- Everything is a process! I appreciate how Alexis shares her perspective of the growth STEM day so that teachers understand that this is not the same as last year or the year before, and the reason it is not the same is that the teachers have grown, learned and become more experienced. It also makes explicit the value that at this school, no matter what grade or subject you teach, all teachers are STEM teachers.
- Openly sharing the process, resources, materials, challenges, etc. freely as the Charles E. Smith teachers have committed to do by way of this blog, invites more ideas rather than taking anything away. The school and its teachers are, through their transparency, establishing their own expertise as leaders in the field of STEM implementation. This strikes me because I still encounter many with a “proprietary” attitude towards their work or a feeling of “we worked so hard for it, we can’t give it away. ” This attitude is outdated in the information age where sharing is an integral part of the cycle of growth.