By Jacie Maslyk
By 2018, 1.2 million STEM jobs will go unfilled. That’s a pretty staggering number. It’s evidence that school leaders should consider ways to prepare students for the changing future after graduation. Strong STEM and STEAM education is essential.
In their #naesp16 session, “STEAM: Celebrate Good Times, Come On!” Jennifer Kloczko and Brandon Blom explored STEAM and the importance of the 4 C’s: creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. They stressed the incorporation of music, dance and the arts, to the other subject areas in science, technology, engineering, and math. Their high-energy session drew in conference attendees with loud music, a disco ball, and a group dance with Go Noodle.
A key mantra from their session: as educators, let’s use STEAM education to flip the phrase, “I don’t know” to “I don’t know where to start.” Principals should ask their teachers to consider whether our students are consuming or creating with technology. From there, Kloczko and Blom shared three specific examples of how schools can strengthen STEAM education.
Focus on the Cs. Blom spoke about the ways that he focuses his faculty meetings around the 4 C’s. As teachers reflect on their lessons, the 4 Cs offer a powerful lens to consider best practices and how to engage students. This is something that can transform faculty meetings and department meetings, and I’m thinking about ways that I might use this with my administrative team.
Incorporate movement. Kloczko discussed Workout Wednesdays at her school: everyone dresses in comfortable clothes and they infuse various fitness activities into the school day, from dancing at lunch or in the mornings getting off the bus. She is doing some cool things to keep kids active and healthy! It’s amazing what music does for people at school.
Student-driven after-school programs. I also enjoyed hearing about Kloczko’s after-school programs that are proposed by students. For instance, a third grader proposed a Lego club that is now co-taught with a faculty sponsor. I’d love for my teachers to consider the possibilities for enrichment with the help of our students. Get messy with science in your schools—students love this opportunity!
Ultimately, I will look for ways to infuse music, art, and dance into the professional development that I plan for teachers and principals. While at first this may take educators out of their comfort zones, the smiles on their faces as they dance and sing will be undeniable.
Jacie Maslyk is Assistant Superintendent of Hopewell Area School District in Pennsylvania.