January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Raising the Prestige of Teaching STEM

Posted: Friday, May 20th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

What makes a career prestigious?  Is it the power it wields? The number of people it impacts? The required number years of training? The amount of the monthly paycheck? According to dictionary.com, prestige is defined as:

“…reputation or influence arising from success, achievement, rank, or other favorable attributes.”

Space Shuttle Independence Houston Space Center Photo by Lisa Hegdahl

Space Shuttle Independence
Houston Space Center Photo by Lisa Hegdahl

At the Houston Space Center, control site for 17 Apollo missions, 275 representatives gathered for the 5th Annual 100Kin10 Partner Summit to explore the question of how to continue to go above and beyond in taking on the grand challenges of training and retaining great STEM teachers.   One of those challenges is identified as –  “teaching lacks prestige and is not widely perceived as a top career choice for STEM graduates”.  Small group sessions allowed partners to examine the issue from a variety of perspectives and experiences.

What is 100Kin10?

In his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Obama “announced a national goal to prepare 100,000 new teachers in science, technology, engineering, and math over the next decade.”

100Kin10 is an expanding network of more than 230 partner organizations, each taking on a piece of work to contribute to the goal of 100,000 excellent STEM teachers.  CSTA became a member in 2013 joining the nation’s top academic institutions, nonprofits, foundations, companies, and government agencies, among others, that contribute to the goal by recruiting stronger STEM teachers, transforming how STEM teachers are hired, supported, and developed, or changing policy, sharing the STEM story with the wider world, and contributing funds towards the 100Kin10 goal.

STEM Teacher Image

Hegdahl2According to Zachary Levine of TEACH, there are several contributing factors to the current image of STEM teachers.  Most people believe that teachers primarily deliver instruction, administer quizzes, and assign homework.  However the STEM classroom of 2016 looks much different than the classrooms of our grandparents, parents, and even those of my 23 year old nephew.   The Next Generation of Science Standards, Common Core, and advancements in technology have transformed classrooms into problem solving and sense making environments that have in turn required changes in the role of STEM teachers and how they interact with their students.

Do these skills look familiar?

  • Public speaking that can captivate a room and inspire interest in any topic
  • Thinking on one’s feet and showing poise under pressure
  • Setting long term goals for people and then mapping out steps that lead to that goal
  • Motivating people and earning their trust
  • Analyzing data to drive decisions
  • Having an incredibly strong work ethic

Hegdahl3While teachers may readily recognize them as skills they use daily in their classrooms, it might be surprising to know that they are also skills developed at Stanford’s School of Business.  Turning the focus from what teachers do to the expertise needed to carry out the role of a teacher, is critical when attempting to update the image of STEM teaching.

Melanie Narish, a Talent Officer for Great Hearts Academies, believes there are three ways to increase STEM teacher prestige.

  1. Change the language about why we teach STEM –
    1. STEM teaching is a noble tradition that is not all about the answers, but about the questions.
    2. Teachers teach these subjects because the subjects are amazing. STEM content allows us to have awe of the world around us.
  2. Cultivate teachers who exude wonder and inquiry.
    1. Professional development should invigorate teachers as well as students.
  3. Veteran teachers should interact with college students who show an interest in STEM teaching.
    1. Determine which teachers would represent the profession well.
    2. Go out to the students and meet them in person.
    3. Share the true vision of the life of STEM teachers.
      1. Share the joy and nobility of the profession through stories.
      2. Have students reflect on what will make them happy in a lifelong profession.

100kin10The 100Kin10 organization identified the root causes of low STEM Teaching prestige as:

  • Insufficient incentives to join the profession
  • Cultural norms devalue teaching
  • Lack of diversity in the STEM teacher workforce
  • Poor teaching conditions
  • Lack of support and understanding from higher education

Although I participated in several discussions around this topic over the two day Summit, I would be dishonest if I said that we reached a consensus about the reasons for the lack of STEM teaching prestige or the next best course of action.  I did, however, receive a new awareness of the concerns of the larger 100Kin10 partnership around the issue and how it will affect the goal of cultivating 100,000 new STEM teachers in, now, five years.  CSTA is committed to the 100Kin10 goal and continues to move forward to promote high quality science instruction by highly skilled science teachers.

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Written by Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl is an 8th grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA and is President for CSTA.

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STEM Conference Hosted by CMSESMC

Posted: Saturday, January 14th, 2017

The Council of Math/Science Educators of San Mateo County will be hosting the 41st annual STEM Conference this February 4, 2017 at the San Mateo County Office of Education. This STEM Conference is the place to get lots of new lessons and ideas to use in your classroom. There will be over twenty-five workshops and a variety of exhibitors that provide participants with a wide range of practical and realistic ideas and resources to use in their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs from Pre-K to grade 12. With California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, we are dedicated to ensuring that we prepare our teachers to take on these educational policies.

Teachers, administrators and parents are invited to explore the many exciting aspects of STEM education and learn about and discuss the latest news, information and issues. This is also an opportunity to network with colleagues who can assist you in building your programs and meet new friends that share your interests and love of teaching.

Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Opportunities to Support NGSS Implementation with CTC

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

What follows are several opportunities for science teachers to work with the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) on various projects that have direct or indirect implications for the implementation of NGSS in California. Please consider applying to one or more of the following opportunities.

CSET Field Testing Opportunities

Field testing opportunities for future CSET Multiple Subjects and Science tests are available beginning Dec. 5, 2016. Participants will have the choice between a $50 Barnes and Noble eGift Card or a $75 test fee voucher that may be applied to future test registration fees. For more information, including how to register to participate, please visit: http://www.pearsonvue.com/espilot/cset.asp. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Submit Your NGSS Lessons and Units Today!

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

Achieve has launched and is facilitating an EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science–a group of expert reviewers who will evaluate the quality and alignment of lessons and units to the standards–in an effort to identify and shine a spotlight on emerging high-quality lesson and unit plans designed for the NGSS.

If you or your state, district, school, or organization has designed NGSS-aligned instructional materials, please consider submitting these in order to help provide educators across the country with various models and templates of high-quality lesson and unit plans. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Opportunity for High School Students – Los Angeles County

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

An upcoming Perry Outreach Program on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles, CA. The Perry Outreach Program is a free, one-day, hands-on experience for high school and college-aged women who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine and engineering. Students will hear from women leaders in these fields and try it for themselves by performing mock orthopaedic surgeries and biomechanics experiments. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Science Education Policy Update

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

January 2017 has proven to be a very busy month for science education policy and CA NGSS implementation activities. CSTA has been and will be there every step of the way, seeking and enacting all options to support high-quality science education and the successful implementation of CA NGSS.

California Department of Education/U.S. Department of Education Science Double-Testing Waiver Hearing

The year started with California Department of Education’s (CDE) hearing with the U.S. Department of Education conducted via WebEx on January 6, 2017. This hearing was the final step in California’s efforts to secure a waiver from the federal government in order to discontinue administration of the old CST and suspension of the reporting of student test scores on a science assessment for two years. As reported by EdSource, the U.S. Department of Education representative, Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary John King Jr., committed to making her final ruling “very shortly.” Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley presented on behalf of CDE during the hearing and did an excellent job describing the broad-based support for this waiver in California, the rationale for the waiver, and California’s commitment to the successful implementation of a new high-quality science assessment. As previously reported, California is moving forward with its plans to administer a census pilot assessments this spring. The testing window is set to open on March 20, 2017. For more information visit New CA Science Test: What You Should Know.

Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.