One of the best resources available to you as you pursue a career is someone who knows your field best.
The same can be said for STEM teachers, who are educating today’s youth by fostering their interest in science, technology, engineering and math subjects. If you’re considering becoming a STEM teacher, picking the brain of experienced STEM teachers can be a great way to learn more about the field and get tips that will help improve your teaching skills.
Here are 6 questions to ask a STEM teacher:
1. How Do You Motivate And Support Your Students?
Let’s face it. Not every child is excited about math, chemistry or some of the other more difficult STEM subjects.
Experienced teachers often have tricks up their sleeves to get students thinking and collaborating. Whether it’s incorporating technology in lesson plans or developing fun ways to make math and science fun, educators can offer some insight into how to help students overcome any reservations they may have.
2. What Is A Day Like In The Classroom?
Whether you envision goggle-wearing students engaged in fun science experiments, yourself standing at the front of the class working equations on the chalkboard or students collaborating together to solve an engineering problem, your perception of the STEM curriculum or a STEM classroom may be spot on or a little off.
Depending on what subject you teach, any of the above scenarios may be true, but they’re likely only one snapshot of what a day is like in the classroom. While teaching involves coming up with creative ways to engage students and explain difficult concepts, it also involves a lot of additional work.
In addition to teaching, your day may involve creating lesson plans, individually working with students, tracking students’ progress, managing conflicts among students, communicating with parents and preparing students for tests. Talking with educators can help offer an accurate look at what your day may look like as a STEM teacher.
3. How Do You Handle Disruptive Students?
Although there is a lot of research available that offers solutions to managing disruptive students in the classroom, nothing can be as valuable as experience. As a STEM teacher, you’ll likely have students in your classroom that will disrupt the learning environment for other students.
There are many factors that can lead to disruptions, whether it’s something as simple as classroom temperatures or as complex as stress, situations happening in a child’s home or behavioral disorders in children.
When it comes time to be interviewed for a teaching position, this may even be a question that is asked of you. Asking experienced teachers how they have successfully managed disruptive students and any tips they learned in the process can offer valuable insight into an issue you will likely face as an educator.
4. What Technology Is Used In A STEM Classroom?
Gone are the days of only relying on calculators, beakers and microscopes to explain STEM concepts. Many of today’s STEM classrooms are a lot more technology-driven, using the latest tools and equipment to engage students.
Robotic toys, virtual reality, 3D printers and scanners, and smart boards are all used today to provide interactive experiences for today’s youth.
Even in school districts where funds are limited for these types of tools, there are many opportunities where STEM teachers can apply for grants to help pay for this equipment. Researching this ahead of time and exploring ways you can bring innovative ideas to your classroom can also look impressive during a Texas teacher interview.
5. Where Do You Find STEM Teaching Tools?
Whether you’re considering becoming a STEM teacher or are working toward your teaching certificate, it’s a good idea to begin compiling a list of resources that help you develop lesson plans and come up with creative ways to engage students.
There is a wealth of STEM teaching tools and websites that offer ideas in areas like scientific modeling, exploring space as a class and taking a closer look at how mathematics is used in the everyday world. Many teachers have likely discovered a lot of these resources and can share which ones have been valuable in their experience.
6. How Did You Become Certified?
There are a handful of paths you can take to become certified to teach in Texas. One of the most popular is through an educator preparation program (EPP). In fact, there’s a good chance that the STEM teacher you are speaking with became certified through an EPP.
That’s because 49% of all new teachers are prepared through alternative programs like ECAP.
There are a lot of factors to consider if you’re still trying to decide what certification path is best for you, from the amount of flexibility you need to whether you want to take courses online, in-person or a combination of both.
There are many advantages and disadvantages to the different credential programs available, which can be found in our article, Pros And Cons Of Teaching Credential Programs. One of the best ways to learn more about these types of certification programs is to reach out to the STEM educators who have gone through them.
The best certification programs will also put you in contact with interns who have been through their programs. This offers the opportunity to learn not only about the certification process, but any valuable resources and unique features of the program that helped these interns achieve their certification.
Micah is the Director of Curriculum & Technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in British Literature, from the University of North Texas and a Master of Arts in Teaching, from Louisiana College. In his previous career, Micah served for 14 years as a banker and bank manager. For the majority of this period, Micah managed the Downtown Fort Worth location of Frost Bank.
In 2005, Micah finally surrendered to his true calling to be an educator. After a brief, but fulfilling term teaching high school English at Flower Mound High School in Lewisville ISD, Micah went to work for the family business, training teachers.
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