Thursday, April 24, 2014

Leaving the Classroom

I am leaving the classroom.

I am currently teaching my last set of students.

Today I am giving my Unit 2 Astronomy exam for the last time, tomorrow I will be introducing my Galaxy Fleet Gamification for the last time.

Dennis asked me for a pencil to take the test... that is probably not the last time.

It may sound as if I am leaving with a heavy heart and I can not deny that that is true. I will miss the kids, I will miss their stories, their worries, their struggles, the relationships I have not yet built. There is something special about having a classroom full of students to help guide through exciting times in their lives. I would not have gotten into this profession if I didn't believe in kids. I know I have made a difference in specific student's lives. They have told me and that is probably the most endearing compliment a teacher can get.

I am not asking for sympathy, I chose to leave.

My district was awarded a grant to develop a system for teacher leadership. I have accepted a position as our district's STEAM coordinator and I can't be more excited about the possibilities this holds. Unfortunately this position has pulled me completely out of the classroom, to which I regret, but the work ahead of me is both exciting and new.

I will be working with teachers, not directly with students. Can I develop the same kind of relationships with adults that I have had with kids? Probably not, but I plan on giving it the old college try!

What does a STEAM coordinator do? I am asking myself the same question. As this is a new position, I have the daunting and exciting task of defining the job. Having not worked a day in the position, it is hard for me to say what can be done, but I have some goals.

  1. I plan on coordinating curriculum K12 in all aspects of STEAM. Not only making sure that the levels (elementary, middle, and high) are sequenced, but set to standards and measured appropriately. I believe I will have a unique perspective in being able to see more cross-curricular connections between all aspects of STEAM. (I have some ideas about having our elementary gym teachers measuring times for runs and then kids calculating their speeds. Can you imagine that, doing math and science in gym class?)
  2. I plan on bringing the community into our schools. We have very strong community support for our school and I plan on capitalizing on that. Lets bring in some engineers to work with some of our classes or clubs. Lets get students networking with industry through internships and job shadowing. 
  3. I want to increase the participation and availability of STEAM activities after school. We have a strong commitment at the high school to our science club competitions. I would like to see that expanded to our other levels. We have a respected team at middle levels in lego robotics. How can I help bring that the to high school? What can we do at the elementary level?
  4. I plan on training our teachers in both content and pedagogy to help them meet the standards set by the district. Some of our elementary teachers are not comfortable teaching science. I plan on showing them that science is fun, engaging, and an avenue to teach reading, math, and thinking skills. Teachers at all levels need exposed to what is new in teaching methods. We have flipped classrooms, modelling, learning cycles, 1:1, and a myriad of other models to put in our teaching toolbox. I plan on giving them exposure to what works for them individually. 
  5. Technology at all levels is ever changing and teachers need to be brought up to speed on its best use. 
If there is one thing that I don't lack, it's ambition. (In my spare time I plan on curing cancer and working on world peace) These are the goals I have set for myself. They are lofty, but they are important. I can not accomplish these alone. I will need help from the great teachers around me, and you, whoever you are that took the time to read this. If you are a teacher, please share your thoughts on what you would like from a STEAM coordinator. If you are already in this position, please contact me and we can share ideas. 

It is an exciting time for my district and me personally. To accomplish these goals will take time, patience, and a lot of endurance. However I will have 8 hours a day, every day to work on this. When I look at all that I do in the classroom in terms of planning, grading, delivering, and collaborating on instruction, these 5 seem more than workable. Perhaps I will have to add a few more goals:)