April 06, 2016

Three effective components of STEM professional development

At the Tiger Woods Foundation, we believe in the importance of providing educators with effective professional development in order to be well-equipped and comfortable in delivering high-quality STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) experiences to their students. The approach we’ve found most effective is allowing them to explore content through the student’s perspective. Educators partake in hands-on, project-based activities designed for them to learn, understand and, in turn, teach their students in the classroom.

The professional development offerings we’ve developed take many forms, such as half-day workshops, one-day seminars and half-day, week-long trainings for fifth-grade teachers. And for the first time, TWF will offer two week-long trainings for fourth through ninth-grade teachers through our STEM Studio this summer. 

Our staff believes in differentiating professional development by allowing teachers to choose the topics that best meet the needs of their classrooms. Educators can select from topics such as the engineering design process, common core mathematics, hands-on science, coding, nutrition and fitness and a number of Web 2.0 tools. 

Three effective components of our STEM professional development offerings are:

  1. Building content knowledge: Educators gain content expertise and confidence with STEM. Our trainings provide them with the important background knowledge of STEM concepts while increasing their comfort level when instructing their students. 
  2. Lending library: We have created a lending library where educators can check out comprehensive kits that include hands-on lessons and the necessary materials to implement the STEM activity at their school sites.
  3. Ongoing support: Our trainers are available to support classroom teachers through a system of continuous communication that includes classroom visitations, observations, team teaching and/or the modeling of lessons.

TWF staff builds a safe learning environment for educators to ask questions and take risks to reach a higher level of understanding content. In addition, TWF professional development promotes academic discourse that requires inquiry-based learning through the exploration of real world applications. The continuous support and communication between STEM educators and TWF staff provides educators with the comfort level and confidence necessary to implement lessons in their own classrooms.  

We believe it is critical for teachers to have ongoing and regular opportunities to learn from each other. Through our professional development, educators are kept up to date on best practices, effective instructional strategies, emerging technology tools and new resources, and are allowed time to collaborate with other colleagues. Providing effective professional development and supporting educators is the key to unlocking experiences that give students the training, knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in future careers. 

Champions of the unexpected for 20 years.