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STEM for real: Include the teachers!

STEM (and STEAM) skills are all the rage nowadays, and all schools are jumping on the bandwagon in one way or another. Schools advertise that they are working to empower students to be ready for the future.  A lofty and wonderful goal, and as a parent, I would welcome these initiatives in my child’s school(s).  But dig deeper.  Often these conversations and proclamations are just that – proclamations, as opposed to actual action initiatives.  Schools talk about how technology skills can aid our students and help them in their future.  But often these conversations are missing one key perspective.

Where are the educators?

We all know that the future will look completely different than the present.  65% of today’s students will be employed in jobs that don’t even exist yet, and it’s the educators’ job to prepare them.  The teachers are the ones that spend the time with our kids every day.  The ones that integrate technology into their lessons, the ones that see the spark of interest in their eyes, and light it to a fire.  Why, then, are the teachers not being included in the conversations being held in our schools? Why are the teachers not being given a voice?

When we exclude our teachers in the conversations about what is best for our children, we are ignoring the process of actually educating our children.  If our teachers aren’t trained and comfortable with new technologies, they will have a difficult time fulfilling the mandate of getting the students ready for the future.  The teachers are the most important part of the conversation, and it’s not right to just leave them out.  Before educating our students, it is important to make sure that the teachers have the skills to put them on the path to success. Without strong skills among the teachers, no amount of conversation will change the outcomes.

As parents, we trust our schools to do what is best for our children.  But as parents, we need to ask the right questions.  Ask your school what they are doing to support their teachers in STEM and STEAM education.  Ask how much professional development is done on new technologies.  Do they have a technology integration support person to help the teachers achieve their goals?  What sort of technology is available to students in the classroom everyday?  How will they use the technology in and out of class, with lessons and homework? Look beyond the Smartboard (some of the most technologically forward thinking educational institutions eschew interactive whiteboards completely!) and ask the questions.

When choosing a school for your children, make sure you know what is important to you, and what the school is good at.  All schools have strengths, and it’s important to match the strengths of the school with the needs of your family.  We have a checklist of things to look for and questions to ask when choosing a private school for your child.  Join our facebook group for this and other resources, and to continue the conversation.


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