Overcoming STEM hurdles

In theory, doesn’t everyone support boosting investment in science, technology, engineering and math education in schools? Districts are trying to make sure students leave high school ready for college and careers, students love the hands-on work STEM subjects offer, and employers are searching for graduates with these skills.

So why hasn’t there been a stampede of new classes and a shift in emphasis in recent years? It turns out that increasing the time devoted to STEM, and getting the money, teachers, and time to fit these activities into a crowded school day can be easier said than done.

The new issue of Scholastic Administr@tor magazine addresses four common obstacles to implementing more STEM studies, and offers administrators solutions to these common roadblocks.

Here’s a short summary of our advice:

1. Lack of Community Support

Lay the groundwork by meeting with various community groups and explaining specifically what changes are needed. If the first time the issue is raised is at budget time, it may be too late to rally support.

2. Few Qualified Teachers

If you can’t find the right teachers on the job market, invest in your own. Secure professional learning opportunities either on-site or at a nearby conference, or hire a STEM coordinator to work with staff right in their own classrooms.

3. Get Your Program Off the Ground

First impressions count, so make sure any initiative you begin is ready to go. If questions remain, answer them before starting, or begin with a pilot to iron out wrinkles first.

4. Maintain Your Program

After the excitement of starting something new wears off, make sure you have multiple ways to show success going forward. Lay out clear goals, communicate them, and report back to your stakeholders regularly.

Photo: Courtesy of Englewood Schools (Colorado)