3 takeaways from my STEM PD

A seasoned chemistry teacher picks up new skills that benefit himself as much as his students

Professional development (PD) is more crucial today than ever for educators to stay relevant in the classroom. The fast pace of innovation makes it an ongoing challenge for teachers to stay on top of the latest developments, so they can include the newest topics in their curriculum, particularly in the areas of science, technology, and engineering. Even new teachers struggle because from the moment they graduate from college, their knowledge and skills begin to fall out of date. So, imagine how difficult it is for teachers who have been on the job for five, 10, or 20 years to keep pace with cutting-edge developments.

We have a duty to learn about the latest advances in our fields of study, so we can pass that knowledge on to our students and implement the most effective methods for teaching modern topics and concepts. Doing so allows educators and schools to give students the best education possible in high school—an education that will set them on a path to success in college and career.

That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to attend a two-day PD workshop at the East Bay Educational Collaborative (EBEC) in Warren, Rhode Island. The session was offered as part of a grant that Atlantis Charter School in Fall River, Mass., recently secured for STEM – High School Chemistry from the U.S. Office of Naval Research through the EBEC, which also includes six new lab stations, new textbooks, and new lab manuals. I was excited to learn how it all works because I knew it would not only benefit my career, but also more importantly my students.

The following are my top three takeaways from the STEM PD.

1. I was introduced to new teaching methods of teaching
There is innovation everywhere, and chemistry is no exception. The PD workshop introduced me to the latest “green” approach to chemistry, which I plan to begin weaving into future lesson plans.

The centerpiece of the new program is a small, computer-based lab station. Users can turn on various functions to mimic experimentation and attach various probes, such as a heater that can boil water in a test tube. No more Bunsen burners, which have open flames and burn extremely hot.

The equipment is not difficult to use, but the PD provided me with the training to properly teach my students. The lead instructor led us through several interesting activities during the two-day workshop. He did experiments with us, showed us the electronic and print-based resources that come with the course, and shared ways to use them in the classroom.

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