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Andrea Hernandez 

Preparing (or “Pre-Playing”) for STEM Day

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 ” This attitude is outdated in the information age where sharing is an integral part of the cycle of growth.

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One thought on “Preparing (or “Pre-Playing”) for STEM Day

  1. hheyman

    Reading your blog post made me realize that sometimes I should take the time to step back and look at things as an observer and not as an actual team member. It can help me look at things in a different way and not just in a good or bad way, but as a reflector or someone that that looks at situation in an objective way in order to evaluate and make things better.
    I agree with every point you made in your reflection. Everything is indeed a process and getting from point A to point B can be successful but with many falls on the way. We need to be patient and understand that everything is a process and in order to build something good, we all need to take part in this process and help build it together. The STEM day was a great success because the teachers worked together, reflected on past experiences and were ready to carry on what was expected from them.
    Being a teacher puts me in a position of a messenger and a role model. If I do something amazing in the class, my role is to share this information with my colleagues and not keep it within the walls of my classroom. I have a mission to share what I do and hope that all teachers do the same with their experience in the classroom. You wrote that the attitude of “proprietary” is outdated and my personal hope is that every teacher in our school and outside of it feels the exact same way. This is the how school become more 21st century compliant.
    Hadas Heyman

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