It may seem far down the line when we talk about career prospects for elementary school students — or even for middle schoolers — but many students decide on careers in STEM long before they graduate high school. Plus, STEM skills and digital literacy have a proven demand in a job market that is increasingly technology and data-driven, thus making these skills critical competencies students should be learning in school.
Research shows a startling gap between what business leaders expect of graduates and the reality in the classroom: by 2021, 67 percent of U.S. executives expect to choose job candidates with data skills over those without, but only 23 percent of educators believe their students will graduate with these essential technology and analytical skills.
Educators need tangible resources to build the skills students need to succeed in the current and future workforce. Active-learning activities provide students with practical, hands-on education and engagement key to building their STEM competencies. Whether these activities are done in the classroom or as an after-school program, students lead the learning and gain opportunities to hone their teamwork, delegation, problem-solving, and communication skills.
We walk through our classroom doors and want to relate to our students. We want to understand their challenges, thought processes, motivations, and fears.
But how do we develop empathy for our students who may struggle with challenges we never experienced?
How can we understand their reactions, fears, and priorities if their childhood or adolescence is so incredibly different from our own or the one we’re creating for our children?
Good teachers understand that practicing and growing empathy makes us great teachers.
Sponsored content provided by Concordia University-Portland
Take a second to absorb these unsettling statistics.
- More than 25 percent of American youth experience a serious traumatic event — abuse, terrorism, divorce, for example — by their 16th birthday.
- In America, one in six kids — that’s 13 million kids —
live in households without consistent access to enough food. Nationwide, three out of four public school teachers say that students regularly come to school hungry.
So what do medical, dental, and mental health issues have to do with education? As a teacher, you undoubtedly know that the answer is everything.
As American psychologist Abraham Maslow theorized, before one can satisfy cognitive, social, and self-actualization needs, basic physiological needs — the lowest tiers in his Hierarchy of Needs — must first be met. In other words, before your students can grow academically — before they can know, understand, explore — they need health, safety, shelter, stability.
When basic needs aren’t met, students are at risk of developing behavioral problems, psychosocial deficits, depression, suicide, repeating grades, and dropping out. The problem is that the traditional school model doesn’t always account for what’s lacking in Maslow’s lowest tiers.
But, it’s not impossible to meet these needs.
I have long been skeptical of the “One Word” promises made at the turn of the new year.
On one hand, I totally get it; it’s an efficient way to stay focused on personal improvement. And like any goal setting, focus is essential to success; we often try to do too much with our goals — personally and professionally. In that respect, I see the value. However, the scope of one word seems, in some ways, too focused. I’ve struggled to see how a one-word focus would truly help me become a better me, a better teacher. But with this said, I also had no suggestion for a different approach.
So, as 2017 faded into the cold and dreary new year backdrop of 2018, I sat down to do my usual new year reflection and goal setting, resigning myself to this seemingly too-narrow approach for lack of a more effective strategy. It was while I scribbled in my writer’s notebook, jotting down key words and phrases that captured elements of my personal and professional growth that I hope to see improve in 2018, when the music in the background, which is always playing when I write, shuffled to a different song, grabbing my attention in a way it never had before. Having heard this song well over 100 times already, I couldn’t believe the way it was now inspiring my goal setting.
In case you missed any of the great ideas we explored this month on Tchers’ Voice, let’s recap our jam-packed January lineup, filled with great ideas from passionate educators just like you!
Six New Videos
Tch Talks Podcasts
What are the questions that your students carry inside of them but rarely ever discuss?
2015 National Teacher of the Year Shanna Peeples wanted to find out. What started as a small idea or strategy to help students build empathy transformed into nearly 15 years of work helping children — and adults — voice the questions they carry inside them. On this episode of Tch Talks, Shanna talks about why it’s important for both students and teachers to “Think Like Socrates,” to allow students to take ownership of their own learning through authentic questions, and to leverage student questions as learning experiences that develop critical thinking.
For Shanna, curiosity is key, and allowing students to own their learning through creating questions is the most fundamental change a teacher can make in their teaching practice. Listen in to find out more.
When teachers solve problems, they inspire their students to solve problems, too. How can teachers use their best strategies as a launching pad for deeper learning and professional growth? And how can curiosity, co-creation, and collaboration before a lesson idea is formed be a game-changer for classroom practice?
On this episode of Tch Talks, Ashley Lamb-Sinclair, Instructional Specialist and Deeper Learning Coach for Fern Creek High School in Louisville, Kentucky and 2016 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, joins us to talk about her work with School Startup. This pilot program is where three cohorts of Teacher-Founders are engaged in the design process to rethink and redesign deeper learning in their classrooms and professional learning communities.
She also shares her recent adventures as founder and CEO of Curio Learning, an app that helps teachers discover new ideas and curate them in a personalized way. The app also facilitates collaboration with other educators in order for them to grow as professionals and find the ways to best help their students.
Ashley believes that if every teacher woke up to the awesome influence he or she has, there would be a drastic overhaul of the system and that — bottom line — it takes a teacher to transform learning.
Congratulations: You made it to January!
For many experienced educators, January can feel like an exciting time to reboot. For new teachers, January can bring back feelings of disillusionment that may have started around November (be sure to read this post on staying energized if you’re in the latter category).
Whether you’re feeling dismayed or excited for the rest of the year, taking just a few minutes to reflect and plan can often make you feel a little bit better.
At the beginning of the school year, Teaching Channel launched our Back to School Starter Packs, a set of checklists and resources organized by grade band to help you start the year off on the right track. Now that we’ve reached the midyear point, we’re offering you a simple review sheet to see how well you’ve done with all of your plans.
As the year comes to a close, it’s the perfect time to look back on our most-watched videos. In 2017, our viewers turned to videos made especially for new teachers, sought out engagement strategies, searched for ways to build a positive class culture, and came to us for lesson ideas.
Did you ever wonder who works at Teaching Channel and what we’re up to?
Well, now you can have the chance to meet us and learn more about the supports we provide for educators.
We attend a range of conferences throughout the country and host a few of our own, so check out our schedule! And, if you have questions or want to learn more right now, contact us here.