25 Years of Impact: How TGR Foundation transforms classrooms worldwide through educator professional learning
As educators come through the TGR Learning Lab for the very first time, they often hear the excited chatter from students busy tinkering and creating. From the mechanical sounds of gears rotating within the 3D printers to EV3 robots zipping up and down the hallways, there is a palpable energy throughout the building.
These educators quickly catch onto the enthusiasm coming from the students who are given the unique opportunity to move beyond textbooks and truly take charge of their learning. Having worked with both students and educators, what I’ve come to recognize is that regardless of our age or life experiences, we all have a natural curiosity and a desire to be life-long learners. Teachers love to be just as engaged as their students. It reminds them firsthand of what their students will be challenged with when they learn new concepts.
Built from a belief that learning is a lifelong pursuit, our professional learning program was designed to empower and equip educators to transform students’ learning experience and unlock their full potential. Since 2006, we’ve helped more than 8,000 educators from around the world reimagine their teaching practice to provide students with classroom experiences that better mirror the working world of today and tomorrow.
Our early years of professional learning supported 5th grade teachers in specific content areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) while their students were participating in our week-long program at the TGR Learning Lab. During this training, teachers learned about shifts in content standards, accessed lessons from our lending library and took in our experiential approach to teaching by observing their students with our TGR Learning Lab facilitators.
While these 5th grade teachers left with a plethora of skills and fresh content ideas, we felt it was important to take another step by extending the training to a broader range of grade levels and aligning it to practices that would prepare students for the future STEM workforce. We also welcomed educators from out-of-school time organizations such as Boys & Girls Club, YMCA and youth enrichment programs to learn and have access to emerging educational technologies including Spheros, Cubelets and Raspberry Pi computers.
As we re-examined our approach to professional learning through educator feedback and by diving deeper into quality professional learning standards, we came to two important questions:
- How can we develop trainings that build and transform educator mindsets versus simply increasing content knowledge?
- What opportunities can we provide our educator community in sustained professional learning and growth?
This led to the development of STEM Studio, our multi-day professional learning experience for educators of all backgrounds and disciplines.
Through STEM Studio, educators from around the world have had the opportunity to collaborate on inquiry-based learning and build creative projects in their classrooms. One such project involved science teacher Phyllis Fukumoto, from Dale Jr. High School in Anaheim, CA and international teacher Rosalie Rozema from Vienna, Austria who collaborated on an engineering project known as the “Potato Chip Challenge.” Their respective students connected digitally to work together, articulated their designs and provided authentic feedback to their new peers across the globe.
To date, the professional learning team has been able to reach educators from more than 70 countries.
COVID-19 flipped our world upside down and more importantly it threw educators worldwide for a loop. We quickly adapted our in-person trainings to a digital format and launched Virtual STEM Studio. With the transition, we supported even more educators through one of the most challenging academic years on record while being reminded why our work with educators is vital.
Even when the world shut down to fight a global pandemic, learning never stopped. Learning remains constant and the need for quality education is as important as ever.
Building students success for 25 years.
This summer TGR EDU: Create launched the Professional Learning Pathway, a series of trainings leading to micro-credentials and certification for educators from all disciplines. TGR Foundation’s professional learning programs are supported by TGR Live events and our generous community of donors, partners and volunteers. To join us in building accessible pathways to success for underserved youth visit TGRFoundation.org/PathwaysForward.
This story is part of a series highlighting 25 years of impact through TGR Foundation programs.