Building national social infrastructure to support STEM educators

Symposium B1


K-12 STEM education is widely regarded as a pinch point on the pathway to a sustainable 21st century. Teachers are on the front lines of addressing this crisis. Little attention is devoted to their needs even though they are directly responsible for achieving the necessary results.
K-12 STEM teachers need a social support system to do their job well. While we can provide them with up-to-date teaching tools, it takes more than ‘cool stuff’ to foster brilliant teaching and deep learning. Teachers must prepare themselves to teach content and skills they never learned when they were in school.
One approach to addressing this need is to support the development of teacher communities. The American Modeling Teachers Association (AMTA) is one such community–a grassroots virtual community of 10,000 STEM educators who learn and work together, investing time and energy to advance their understanding and boost their students’ thinking and learning. Their shared identity is as teachers who use a particularly effective teaching method: Modeling Instruction. Teachers own Modeling Instruction in a way that is unique among educational initiatives.
In this session we will describe the evolution of this community that emerged (by accident–not by design) from a 16-year NSF-funded project that ended in 2005. We will explore the forces that shaped its agenda, the many ways in which it shows up in different parts of the country, the regional affiliates it has ‘birthed’–STEMteachersPHX, STEMteachersNYC, STEMteachersHOU, STEMteachersDFW, STEMteachersMassBay–and the challenges with which this teacher group and its affiliates continue to grapple.

Dr. Colleen Megowan-Romanowicz, PhD, American Modeling Teachers Association
Dr. David Hestenes, PhD, Arizona State University
Dr. Fernand Brunschwig, PhD, STEMteachersNYC
Mr Michael Gallagher, Oakland Schools

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