STEM educators collaborate as an interdisciplinary team to plan, implement, and improve integrated STEM learning experiences.
Rockhurst High School educators value collaboration and have a history of doing so regularly. For many years, teachers from all departments attended a voluntary sharing of best practices through a program called the Art of Teaching. This past year, the entire school community came together to celebrate the Year of Mercy.
Over the last two years, the entire faculty dedicated themselves to educational best practices training from the consultant firm Research for Better Teaching (RBT). This training of the entire faculty was both STEM and non-STEM focused. This type of school-wide training marks a significant departure from traditional professional development initiatives, which previously consisted of one or two annual days that were thematically unconnected.
The STEAM team, composed of a STEAM Director and two STEAM Coordinators met nearly every day of the 2015 - 2016 school year in order to plan, implement, and improve aspects of STEAM around the school. Beyond those three, the STEAM Director worked closely with department chairs, the educational technologist, the librarian (particularly with the planning of the learning commons) and members of the advancement office. The STEAM team began the 2015 school year with interviewing every single faculty member one on one in order to assess the biggest needs around the school in terms of STEM learning experiences.
Furthermore, the infusion of learning science into the Rockhurst High School experience manifested itself through the installation of active learning classrooms. The twelve teachers (representing each department) met on a biweekly basis throughout the school year of 2015-2016 to share best practices that helped leverage the power of these rooms. These teachers specifically spoke of the intersection between technology skills, pedagogy skills and opportunities to leverage space. In terms of specific STEM learning experiences for educators, the Exeter Mathematics Institute is making a big impact. These classrooms are empowering all teachers to be able to have many common conversations about improving learning experiences.
What do skillful teachers believe, know, and do — individually and collaboratively — to promote the learning and achievement of each and every student? All Rockhurst High School faculty members participate in this training.
We needed faculty input prior to moving forward. This helped shape a shared vision and lead to a shared understanding of our values. The goal was to foster shared excitement and sense of co-ownership.