As educators, we know we are teaching students, training students to have jobs that currently do not exist. We accept the challenge to develop minds to be open to the unknown future. When we ask our students what they want to be when they grow up, we smile knowing good and well that we have no idea the opportunities they will have. We live in an age of ever changing technology, one that keeps information once memorized at our fingertips to be recalled at the push of a button. We live in a global society that with a connection that could not have been fathomed when we ourselves where in our students shoes.
Teaching is a cornerstone profession; it is a part of every profession out there. We are innovated enough to see that we have to teach our students- to solve problems, think for themselves, and to be risk takers. These are all very difficult skills to teach. It takes courage, confidences, and the ability to see that failure is not the end, but the beginning to real learning. We are teaching our students to be future ready- whatever the future holds for them.
The importance of STEAM learning
We have been in the process of incorporating the idea of cross-curricular education within our school for 3 year now. We started small; with the Makerspace in the library during recess and have grown to have a full-on STEAM Lab. The process has not been an easy one, teachers are pulled in many directions and it is often hard to see the value of something new. Luckily for me, Schluter is a school full of innovative teachers that are willing to try new ideas and step out of their comfort zone to ensure our students are receiving the best education possible.
It all started with Christa telling me (because she did not ask!) that we needed a space for students to learn and explore what they are interested in. I agreed. She brought the idea of the Makerspace to Schluter. We worked to come up with challenges for the students to choose from; they signed up to come to the Markerspace during their recess time. There were also opportunities in the library for students to learn about what they were interested in as well. It was a great start! The students worked hard and came up with a variety of solutions for the problems posed. It was exciting to see the learning students where choosing to be a part of.
Then last year during our construction, we hit a snag… space. We did not have the space to grow our program or even to keep it going at the same level. Unfortunately, we were forced to scale back on what we were offering to our kids, BUT what this time did allow is for a team to start thinking about what our kids need. STEAM- we had a group that brainstormed what we were wanting for our kids, what it needed to look like, and what we needed to make it happen! Our team was made up of teachers here at Schluter as well as a representative from Chisholm Trail: they worked on grants, plans, and a vision. Our grant writing proved to be fruitless, but we did not allow this to slow us down. We had to look for down new avenues for our sponsorship.
Our STEAM Lab is filled with materials that were purchased by our PTA, our parents, as well as some of our teachers. We are incredibly blessed to be in a community that is so supportive of the innovation we bring to our students. This year, it has been exciting to see the students working in the lab, in the halls, and in your room. To have a student, who has maybe said five words to me all year, get excited about explaining how wind moves his transportation device- talk about powerful. Or to see a student that struggles social be the center of attention, because a lab was design around his love of a storybook character and disco- moving. The groups that have been in the lab or working on of the lab because it was full, have extremely engaged students who were making connections that otherwise might not have been seen. Has every lesson been a 100% perfect experience where each student mastered each portion of the lab? No, we are learning. We are learning about the process, our students, and the connections they are making when given the opportunity to demonstrate their learning a little different.
The STEAM lessons that have been designed for our students have been incredible. I cannot wait to see what other lessons our teachers come up with next.