Encouraging students to consider a career in teaching STEM*

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Profile on Julio Mendez: Science teacher, lifelong learner, and founder of the STEM Education Introductory Program

As well as being a busy Physics and Chemistry teacher in Chicago, Julio Mendez has founded the innovative STEM Education Introductory Program – it gives high school students the opportunity to earn college credit through a series of lectures and hands on teaching practice at a local middle school. We ask him all about the project, and how it came about.


You are a science teacher – where do you teach, and what led you down the path of both STEM and teaching?
 

I teach Physics, Chemistry and the Education 101 class at Perspectives Charter School – Joslin Campus, in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood. I also teach Engineering courses (Project Lead The Way curriculum on Saturdays) through Project SYNCERE. This is a non-profit in Chicago’s Kenwood neighborhood.

Teaching is a second career which found me more due to circumstance than through any active effort. I had returned to school for a Physics degree and was looking for a part time job when my wife suggested I look into Project SYNCERE. I decide to go interview and try it, and the rest is history, as they say. I fell in love with the kids’ ability to look past all the crap they are dealt and still seek knowledge. Having been raised on Chicago’s south side and dealing with a lot of the social issues they are living with made me relatable and my natural sarcastic demeanor and ability to look past slights allowed me to create good relationships with the students. I saw at once that this is where I needed to be and then I just found ways to keep pushing myself to learn, grow and sharpen my craft.

The STEM part is easier to explain: I’m a nerd. I love science and all that it tells us about the universe, I always have. I also understand the need for our communities to be better represented within these fields. We have been neglected for a long time and those who looked away are now realizing that they will need us in order for the world to continue its progress.

 

What inspired you to set up this program encouraging high school students to consider a career as science teachers?

When I was considering become even just a part time teacher, I started looking into the profession and the history of teaching and learning. I came to the realization that education is one of the oldest forms of community building that there is. Until recent human history, we have learned everything from the previous generations in our communities. From hunting and gathering, to planting and growing and so on, we learned it all from our elders, who did it before us and learned it from their elders.

When the opportunity with the Shell Oil Company and the Smithsonian Science Education Center and their call for applications came to my attention I knew the solution had to come from within the community, to create a new lineage of education. There is also a long tradition of finding “fixes” for our communities from outside, as if we hadn’t the talent or abilities to be the solutions ourselves. I have seen our children do some incredible things and come up with some huge ideas that would amaze the greatest thinkers, but because they don’t show high scores or even high rates of high school graduation, their ideas and grand thinking and potentials aren’t acknowledged.  Given all this I knew that the solution to a lack of science teachers of color had to come from our own ranks, the students of color. It was just a matter of convincing the kids they could be the solution and that being a teacher is a viable career (harder than it seems) and convince all the powers that be, this is a viable solution (harder than it should be).

 

Could you describe your aim in setting up the Education 101 program? Who is it designed for and what will they learn?

The biggest aim for the program is to give students of color the opportunity to see themselves as STEM subject teachers. Let them see a side of teaching that they don’t get to see; mostly because they have a very different experience with the teaching profession. They do not have the opportunity to see a lot of themselves in these roles, so they can’t identify with the profession. They just need to see they can and some might.

The students in the class are exposed to the history of education in the country, including the injustices our communities have gone through, the  definition of what a STEM teacher needs to be, exposure to informal science education, observing teachers, the complexity of the classroom, the preparation for lessons, reading and writing college level papers. This will be set around Socratic discussions and group projects that will be catered to the students’ abilities and raising expectations at every turn.

Was the creation of your program partly in response to the lack of diversity found in the teaching profession?

The creation of the program most definitely has to do with the lack of diversity in teaching. It is very difficult to be a teacher of color within a system which serves mostly students of color and yet we are an overwhelming numerical minority, especially in the STEM subjects.

 

A Student’s Perspective: Here’s what one of the course participants, Jada Woodard, has to say about the Program

Why did you apply?

I applied to the Education 101 course because I am thinking about being an educator. I thought it would give me the upper hand when I do attend college to study education. In addition, I wanted to find out if it was really something that I wanted to do.

What’s the best thing about the course?
The best thing about the course is that I am able to learn about the previous educational system, the current educational system, and the future of the educational system. I love that I am able to give my perspective as a student while learning the perspective of a teacher. We are able to talk about topics within the educational system that others aren’t willing to talk about, students of colors and teachers.

What’s the hardest part of the course?
The hardest thing about the course is actually putting yourself in the shoes of an educator. My student mindset slightly limits my ability to think like an educator. It is something that we as a class are working on to do.

What are you learning right now?
At the moment, we are learning how to effectively make lesson plans. In a month or sooner, we will able to teach this lesson plan/activity to a middle school class using the five aspects of an effective classroom that we have learned.
I think the reason there are not many STEM teachers of color is because of the lack of knowledge and resources. I think that in some schools STEM is a luxury. Although we do get taught science and math, it’s not taught or introduced in a way that makes it relevant to engineering and technology.

 

To learn more about the STEM Education Introductory Program contact Julio Mendez at jmendez@pcsedu.org.

 

*STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

Teaching and Learning in Ghana

Teaching can be an international career – and even if you’re not ready to relocate permanently, there are plenty of ways to test the water with short term partnerships. UK-trained teacher Heather French tells us about her experience teaching in Ghana for just a few days.

 

DSC_0529Heather with her students.

Heather French has worked as both a primary and secondary (high school) teacher, and has over 25 years of experience teaching in schools around the world. During the past three years, Heather has worked as a teacher trainer both in the UAE and internationally. Her key area of interest is literacy and she is an avid believer in the importance of a systematic approach to phonics in the early years’ classroom – a message she is delivering to schools around the world.

KDSL Global’s Kevin Simpson put Heather in touch with the International Community School in Ghana, a school which follows the British curriculum and which has been pioneering and committed to academic excellence ever since opening in 2000. The school offered Heather a position with them and did everything to help facilitate the journey to Kumasi in Ghana: from arranging visas to meeting her at the airport. Heather’s role at the school was to train over 100 members of staff on matters relating to teaching reading and writing skills, balanced literacy approaches, and strategies for assessments. On top of this, Heather was also teaching pupils at all levels of the school, from nursery to high school.

Heather says, “There was a wonderful atmosphere at the school. The staff were friendly and eager to learn, and hugely committed. They were willing to travel long distances during their holidays in order to attend training courses. The owners are passionate about education and it was a real privilege to be involved and to help the school achieve their vision of being a leading school in Africa.”

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The beautiful campus of the ICS.

 

About ICS-K

The mission of International Community School (ICS-K) is to create an educational centre of the highest quality that meets international standards through a holistic integration of academic, social, physical, spiritual and moral training. They aim to raise a new generation of leaders who are productive members of their communities and have a broader vision for the world.

About KDSL Global

KDSL Global is a leading learning organization focused on empowering educators and education businesses globally.

 

 

END 2018 International Conference

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KDSL Global is serving as a media partner for the END 2018 – International Conference on Education and New Developments being held in Budapest, Hungary, from 23 – 25 June, 2018. The International Conference seeks to provide some answers and explore the processes, actions, challenges and outcomes of learning, teaching and human development. Their goal is to offer a worldwide connection between teachers, students, researchers and lecturers, from a wide range of academic fields, interested in exploring and giving their contribution in educational issues. They wish to illustrate developments and new ways of thinking in these main fields:
• Teachers and Students
• Projects and Trends
• Teaching and Learning
• Organizational Issues

For more information visit http://www.end-educationconference.org/

The call for abstracts is due by 24 November 2017   http://end-educationconference.org/submission_abs/

College, Career, & Civic Life (C3) Survey

Invitation for Social Studies K-12+ Educators

 

Dear Educator,

Social Studies education underpins a strong democracy–your participation in this survey regarding the implementation of the College, Career, & Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards will provide documentation that can be used by Social Studies advocates to seek private and federal funding for Social Studies education.

(If you have never heard of C3, please hit reply to email kimdoneil@gmail.com and indicate your state, district, and/or school. This information is very important to the study. All contact information will remain confidential.)

Data will be analyzed and reported in a white paper by Kevin Simpson, Founder, KDSL Global, and Kim O’Neil, NCSS President 2015-16.

The survey will take 10-15 minutes. By completing this survey by September 15th, your name will be placed in a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card. Participants may receive a copy of the published white paper if requested. All contact information will remain confidential.

Please participate in this important survey.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me. Please forward this email to as many K-12+ educators as possible. Your time is greatly appreciated!

 

Best regards,

 

Kim O’Neil

Reflections on the EARCOS Teacher Conference 2017

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Dr. Craig Gabler, our USA based science consultant, reflects on his recent experience as a facilitator in Asia. Gabler has been serving schools and science educators around the world with KDSL Global since 2014. He served as a writer for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), worked on Washington state science standards writing teams, and spent several summers as Mentor Teacher in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pre-Service Teacher program at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

In April I had the opportunity to present at the EARCOS (East Asia Regional Council of Schools) Teacher Conference in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Teachers and administrators from over 100 schools were in attendance at this 3-day conference.

For those who know me, it goes without saying that some of my presentations dealt directly with the NGSS and how to make those standards come to life in the classroom. I also had the chance to engage attending science teachers in a session targeting formative assessment and in another session on strategies for engaging students in engineering. I was blessed with not only excellent attendance in these sessions, but also with attendees who were highly engaged in the learning opportunity.

The theme for the EARCOS conference was “Connecting Global Minds.” I would like to draw from that theme for a brief reflection on my experiences in both the Middle East and East Asia. In supporting science education, I have had the pleasure to work with teachers of science from all across the United States, from across the Middle East region and now from East Asia. What struck me while in Malaysia was the fact that teachers of science from around the globe are indeed connected. We all share a deep desire for our students to succeed and to value science. What I have found is, regardless of region, that that desire drives us to ask the same hard questions – about engaging students with the NGSS, about encouraging students to have an interest in STEM, and about managing and preparing our classrooms for that success.

As science educators we are a part of a global network, united by our passion for science and for our students. I celebrate that there are gracious and giving teachers of science across the globe. I also celebrate that there are organizations like KDSL Global and EARCOS, to name just two, that bring learning opportunities and resources to the network. As we continue on this path of serving our students, it is important to reach out to those organizations and to our colleagues for continuing support. Don’t go alone.

Please know that KDSL Global and I are here to support your science journey.

 

Craig Gabler, KDSL Global Science Consultant
gablerct@gmail.com
www.kdslglobal.com

To read the KDSL Global white paper on NGSS in MENA American Curriculum schools visit http://kdslglobal.com/NGSS%20in%20MENA%20American%20Curriculum%20Schools.pdf.

To learn more about EARCOS visit https://www.earcos.org/.

 

Launch of Teacher Leaders International

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Dubai, 12 April 2017: A new organization, Teacher Leaders International Limited (TLI), has been launched in celebration of over ten years of teacher empowerment and professional development in international education – particularly in the area of curriculum and instruction for American curriculum and international schools.

Through research-based practice, the organization aims to empower educators in curriculum and instruction by collectively harnessing the power of teacher voices in 21st century learning. Currently the global footprint of TLI spans over 9 countries across the Middle East and North Africa region – Kuwait, UAE, Jordan, Lebanon, Istanbul, Oman, Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The relentless efforts in furthering curriculum and instruction have also been successfully received in India, Thailand and the United States of America, soon to be extended to the Far East and the United Kingdom.

TLI’s Executive Director is Dr. Sudha Govindswamy (Sunder), an affiliate consultant for the Council of International Schools (CIS), who specializes in Curriculum Design and Delivery. As a certified concept-based curriculum consultant from Dr. Lynn Erickson Institute, Whitefish, Montana, Dr. Sunder works in supporting schools unpack both the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), focusing on the conceptual shift classroom teachers need to understand, while implementing the standards with intellectual rigor and integrity. As an Associate Consultant for KDSL Global, Dr. Sunder has been engaged in work with the KDSL Global team in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. In addition, she has worked in seven other countries. Commissioned by the International Baccalaureate (IB) and in collaboration with Achieve, Dr. Sunder has published the Relationship Study Report between the NGSS and the IB, for US high schools engaged in the dual implementation. She has also served as a Curriculum Reviewer for the IB PYP, is an Apple Distinguished Educator and is a SMART Exemplary Educator. Sudha earned her PG in the United Kingdom, her Master’s degree in India and her doctorate in the United Kingdom.

TLI is ever grateful for the overwhelming response and the enthusiastic engagement of educators world over in embracing the efforts of TLI towards furthering the work of curriculum and instruction.

 

For further information, please contact Sudha Govindswamy

sudhasunder@tlinternational.org |+971 507455827 | http://www.tlinternational.org

Inspiring video of the ‘Handshake Teacher’ and his fifth grade goes viral

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Barry White, Jr. is a fifth grade English teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina. Earlier this month, he shared a video taken of him greeting his students in the morning before class. The video became an overnight hit, shared thousands of times, and Barry has since appeared on The Today Show and Good Morning America.

You can watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUQIARSN3ag

At KDSL Global we were lucky enough to catch up with Barry and ask him a few questions about his life as a teacher. 

 

When you watch the video, it’s impossible not to smile and to feel how much your students are enjoying this interaction with you. Why do you think they love it so much?My students love the message behind the handshakes more so the handshake itself. The handshake represents a personal moment that we both can share every day. They understand and appreciate the time and effort going into making a personalized handshake with each one of them and remembering it. They know I actually care even with a simple gesture such as a handshake.
 

What other ways can teachers reach out and engage with their students at the beginning of class/while teaching them? 
Building rapport with your students come in many different forms. It can be a simple compliment (clothes, academics, etc). As a teacher we are trained to be observant, this allows us to spot any changes happening with our students. Use this to leverage relationship building. Teachers can also leave notes on student’s desks for the next day. Simple printable signs that can encourage them to be the best student they can be that day.

 

Do you ever have a kid not wanting to do the handshake with you, refusing to do it? What are your strategies for working with kids who are difficult? 
Some children are a little shy and working their way out of it slowly but surely. Handshakes are not mandatory in my classroom. I allow students to opt-in if they feel comfortable enough. Through my classroom management techniques, I set the expectations and reinforce them with positive narration. For example: if the expectation is Level 0 voice and tracking the speaker, I will say Billy is level 0, Shawn is tracking the speaker. This allows the expectations to be heard in the classroom, so if a student is not meeting the expectation they will be given a consequence. There is no push back, because my voice does not change when giving a consequence, and due to the expectations being set firmly in the classroom. I let students know I care about them too much to allow them to fail or not meet expectations. Therefore I will consequence them to make sure they succeed. Once this message is clear and consistently affirmed, they buy into the concept. We have what we call “growth mindset” concepts applied in the classroom. Instead of getting upset at a consequence and blowing up, the student uses a growth mindset and learns from that mistake.

 

Are teachers and trainee teachers in the USA encouraged to develop original, personalized and fun ways of connecting with their students, rather than just focusing on the curriculum and exam grades? 
In some places, I believe teachers are encouraged to build rapport with their students. Particularly in my school district, we are constantly encouraged to build meaningful relationships and establish high expectations. We are allowed the freedom to express our creativity and be innovative in the classroom.

 

 

Thalia Suzuma
KDSL Global
Website: www.kdslglobal.com
Twitter: @KDSL07
Facebook: KDSL Global

 

KDSL Global Founder will serve as a mentor

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KDSL  Global Founder Kevin Simpson has been selected to serve as a mentor at the Smithsonian Science Education Center and Shell Oil Company’s Teacher Leadership Summit: Attracting, Retaining, and Developing a Diverse STEM Teaching Workforce this February 2017 at Howard University in Washington, D.C. At this summit, teams of educators will create a plan for attracting, retaining, and developing a diverse STEM teaching workforce in their districts to become catalysts for systemic change.