STEM is known for exceptional quality faculty and joining this elite club of professionals is desired by many in the academic world. In line with our Strategic Plan of creating a Teacher Care Model, our staff has access to many resources to continue to help them grow. One such resource are Instructional Coaches, who visit with teachers both in the classroom and one-on-one to guide them through everyday challenges and successes.
This past week, I was checking in with a new-to-STEM teacher to see how she was adjusting. She was so grateful for the professional respect she receives at STEM to make instructional decisions for her students. She came from a district that was highly prescriptive, providing each teacher with a manual and predefined scripts for 172 instructional days. I have seen those manuals. The teacher is prompted with what to say and the student response is defined. No deviation from the script is allowed.
The instructional manual that is highly defined turns professional educators into technicians. It strips away their creativity and ability to adjust to students, who I believe deserve so much more.
In the age of COVID, the difference between technician-driven education and creative-professional instruction is a chasm that will play out with very different trajectories for STEM students. It is so simple to purchase curricula. What differentiates STEM cannot be found in a box on a shelf.
Despite the times, the collaboration across a grade level and subject-area teams continue. Prior to COVID, there had never been an attempt to sustain this level of creativity for both in-person and virtual learning.
I have personally committed to visit every classroom at STEM each week. I see the challenges of teaching in-class students with even more present virtually. Preparing engaging-creative content instead of defaulting to prescriptive lessons takes time. I am working closely with the Staff Advisory Council, Teacher Feedback team and others to hear our staff’s needs and commit to bring the needed resources requested. Our PTO, SAC and parent volunteers will be critical partners in helping us move forward.
Thank you for your patience in this very complicated time where teachers and school leaders are leaving the profession in record numbers across the country. Our support of each other will provide the strength needed to endure and thrive.
P.J. Eucker PhD