Thanks in part to support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Collaborative is conducting the third phase of its STEAM teacher professional development effective practices study. In its two previous studies conducted during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years, it discovered some important effective practices in STEAM professional development. In the 2019-20 study, it is investigating the best forms of disseminating these effective practices.
To do that, it is comparing a hybrid professional development consisting of in-person and virtual training versus completely virtual training. It also is examining the most effective practices in each of these modes of delivery.
Helping lead this project are the Collaborative’s researcher, Bess Wilson, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Foundations and Secondary Education, University of North Florida; Lucinda Presley, Collaborative Executive Director; the Collaborative’s Innovation Fellows, the top 10 teachers identified in the first round of research; and a number of their school administrators. They represent K-12 from the following states: Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Texas.
These Collaborative staff, Fellows, and administrators met virtually and then in person in Houston, Texas in November 2019. There, the Fellows helped Dr. Wilson and Ms. Presley train the administrators in STEAM intersections using discussions, in addition to hands-on and creating activities. The group then planned the teacher and administration professional development dissemination models and methods for implementation in spring semester, 2020.
During this semester, there has been success in the hybrid training. Additionally, an online teacher professional development platform was developed and select teachers and administrators were invited to participate. While a limited request was sent out, the response was overwhelming. Due to limited capacity, 67 of the teachers and administrators who applied were accepted. They hail from various states, all grade levels, and a wide variety of disciplines. These disciplines include: all visual and performing arts, science, technology, engineering, math, social studies, special education, and English as a second language.
These teachers and administrators have learned about the Collaborative, what STEAM is, the Collaborative’s thinking skills and its continuum of STEAM integration. After learning about the Collaborative’s rubrics and assessment, the plan was for the teachers to implement and use the rubrics to assess one the Collaborative’s top 10 lessons and a STEAM experience they created. To adapt to the wide variety of schools’ responses to the coronavirus, adjustments were made that allowed teachers and administrators to accomplish this choosing from a variety of options from the Collaborative. They also worked together to develop further creative means of implementation.
Highest praise goes to the teachers and administrators who persisted, in spite of overwhelming odds, and are completing the course. They also were given resources, learned how to extend their learning, and received STEAM credentialing as a STEAM professional.