25 Years of Impact: How TGR Foundation’s Professional Learning Program Created a Paradigm Shift in my Teaching
TGR Foundation’s professional learning workshops have been a revelation. Prior to attending the workshops, I heard about many of the concepts I’ve now adopted including student-centered instruction and project-based learning. What makes TGR Foundation’s teacher training program unique is that you experience the pedagogy from the perspective of both the teacher and the student.
It began with my initial glimpse of the TGR Learning Lab. A futuristic and modern facility, the entry heralds the promise of an exciting, eye-opening experience. Soaring glass windows and an open-air feeling pervades the space. Appropriately located next to a golf course, the TGR Learning Lab, Tiger Woods’ ode to STEM education, is both inviting and inspirational.
I attended my first educator training workshop in 2017, and I was blown away by the diversity of the teachers in attendance. Looking back, I don’t know why I was under the assumption the training was only for science teachers. I was wrong. There were math teachers, resource specialists, art teachers, English teachers, elementary teachers and, like myself, science teachers from all over Southern California.
In the workshop, we coalesced into a professional learning community through team building exercises, logic problem-solving, inquiry-based learning and even some programming and robotics. It was collaborative and cross-curricular. The training embedded the three dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards, and lessons seamlessly integrated an inquiry mindset, collaboration and self-reflection. It was an amazing experience that left me wanting more.
I realized early on that TGR Foundation’s educator training program was more than just a workshop; it was a paradigm shift. As a teacher I went from being the “Sage on the Stage to the “Guide on the Side.” The techniques I gained have become infused into my instruction. My students use the Engineering Design Process to solve authentic real-world problems and I am constantly amazed at my students’ ingenuity and imagination in problem solving. They’ve built mouse-trap powered cars to demonstrate the benefits of driving alternative energy vehicles, changed seawater into drinkable water, highlighting sustainability, created self-sustaining bottle biospheres teaching the importance of effective ecosystems and so much more.
Since March of 2020, teachers have been challenged like never before. The pandemic has made us rethink how we accomplish every aspect of teaching and we have had to learn to facilitate learning from a distance. TGR Foundation has met this challenge with virtual workshops. The workshops have the same emphasis on student-centered learning and inquiry mindset but have adapted to our current times. The teaching methods and strategies we’ve learned help us to empower students and encourage them to use materials readily available at home to engineer solutions much like they would in class.
Last year, I was pleased and honored to be invited to join the inaugural Master Trainer program. I learned how to facilitate TGR Foundation’s educator training workshops alongside other dedicated teachers from across the nation and around the world including education professionals from Philadelphia, Florida, Washington, D.C., Senegal, Ghana and many other regions. The Master Trainer program is challenging and rewarding, continually pushing me to be a better classroom teacher.
TGR Foundation’s educator training program has been invaluable for my growth as a teacher. I have built lasting relationships with educators and my students have benefited from student-centered and project-based learning. TGR Foundation brings the best practices for my students while allowing me to continue to flourish and grow in my profession.
Building student success for 25 years.
Stanley Abe is a seventh-grade science teacher at Newhart Middle School in Mission Viejo, California in the Capistrano Unified School District. This is his 32nd year teaching science. TGR EDU: Create is supported through the generosity of our donors and partners including Southern California Edison, in addition to TGR Live Events.