by Matter & Form on September 26th, 2019
The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) movement has been recognized as an important advancement in the education system that will increase job opportunities for students, teach real-world skills, and redefine the modern classroom. However, implementing high-tech tools into classrooms and rewriting curriculums is much easier said than done. As a tech director or school principal, how exactly do you change an age-old system and bring reluctant teachers on board? In this article, we’ll explore five practical ways to implement STEM into your school and quell any concerns from teachers. Here’s how you can get your teachers to say “yes!” to STEM.
1. Take STEM Slow
According to Harvard Business Review author Rosebeth Moss Kanter, changes that are “imposed on people suddenly, with no time to get used to the idea or prepare for the consequences, are generally resisted.” Kanter recommends that leaders “plant seeds” to avoid sudden surprise and resistance. Implementing STEM slowly into your school will give teachers time to adapt to major changes and technological advancements. STEM doesn’t necessarily have to involve 3D printers and the latest laptops; you can still expose teachers to the key teachings with tools that they are comfortable with, including educational apps on their own smartphones.
Yet another way to slowly introduce STEM learning into the classrooms is by encouraging teachers to continuously establish a link between the subjects of science, technology, engineering and math. This holistic teaching model will show students that school subjects don’t need to exist as silos.
2. Make it Seamless
Once reluctant teachers are exposed to STEM and ready to adopt greater change, you can take away extra hurdles by giving them all the supplies they need. Look into setting up a maker space in your school, invest in your computer lab, or implement high-tech tools into your classrooms. If there are already accessible VR goggles or a 3D scanner in the school, teachers will be much more likely to take advantage of the equipment right in front of them. If you’re interested in learning more, read our blog post on 5 STEM classroom tools that range from no-tech to high-tech.
3. Make STEM Easy
Teachers have enough on their plate as it is. Make STEM as easy as possible for your teachers by providing them with these six detailed lesson plans. From creating a model of habitation on an alien planet to illustrating human evolution, these lessons are an exciting and effective way to guide classroom activities that take away any additional prep teachers may need to do.
4. Get Teachers Inspired
An effective way to inspire teachers is to reframe the concept of change as an opportunity for progress. People have adverse reactions to changes that could lead to discomfort or inconvenience. Once you reframe change as a chance to build a cutting-edge classroom that ignites and inspires students, teachers are more likely to see STEM learning as a worthwhile pursuit. Inspire them with the range of possibilities rather than scaring them with daunting new technology.
Additionally, it’s important to show success stories. For example, Markus Hartnett undertook a 3D printing project with 200 fourth and fifth graders, where students were heavily immersed in the task of building a prototype, revising it, testing it and gathering feedback from fellow students. The students’ mission was to colonize a new planet, and they came up with clay designs and put them into 3D software. Markus stated that the results were very positive, “for [the students] to see their thoughts put into action, the expressions on their faces were incredible.” Markus also notes that “3D printing is a great tool to ease the fear of failure, as a student can design a prototype, see how it works and if it fails, they can modify their design and print another one.”
Bottom line: good teachers care about student success and want the best for them. Make sure your teachers are aware of the skills and opportunities STEM offers their students. If you’re interested in learning more about this, read our blog post on the 5 STEM Majors That Lead to High Paying Career Options.
5. Make STEM Worth It
And finally, reward teachers that embrace STEM. Many teachers lack exposure to STEM or have a general lack of confidence in teaching new subjects. As a result, create a culture that rewards lifelong learning for teachers. Provide them with access to the relevant training or teaching certifications. Let your teachers know that STEM trained and experienced teachers can increase their pay range, and actually reward the teachers that take on the challenge of teaching STEM projects with a raise or bonus. As Kanter says “to overcome inertia requires a sense of safety as well as an inspiring vision.” So therefore, give your teachers that vision and outline the process of getting there, with clear, simple steps and timetables.
Embrace STEM in Your Classrooms Today!
Getting your teachers to say yes to STEM can be a daunting task. But implementing a STEM curriculum into your school can have lasting benefits for both students and teachers. To find out more about STEM education, and how 3D scanning can enhance learning, visit our blog or browse our website today.